Various thoughts on current events with an emphasis on politics, legal issues, sports, and whatever is on my mind. Emails can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org; please put "blog comments" in the subject line.
Another Shooting. Another Attack On Planned Parenthood.
Update: Credit to Gov. Mike Huckabe for calling [on Twitter etc.] this domestic terrorism that he opposes as a "pro-life" individual. To be careful, as some will want, his recognition of the dangerous nature of the rhetoric used etc. is limited. But, as noted below, there is a basic floor here and it must be upheld. Others had somewhat less compelling first impressions.
This shooting is at least the fifth high-profile crime at a Planned Parenthood clinic since the release of the Center for Medical Progress’s undercover sting videos this July. In early September, a fire at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Pullman, Washington, was ruled to be an arson. A second arson at a clinic in Thousand Oaks, California, came one month later. Two other attempted arsons have taken place at a clinic in Aurora, Illinois, and at one under construction in New Orleans.
The events are still raw, thus I woke up today with reports of an additional death, but to assume it is related to abortion is not exactly a reach. As Irin Carmon notes, Colorado is both pretty pro-choice in respect to laws and a major focal point of battles. The divisions in that state was also seen in the Romer v. Evans case, where local pro-gay policies were attacked by means of a state-wide referendum. The battle over Planned Parenthood isn't new either as seen by this four year story that easily could have mostly been simply republished after the latest controversies.
Abortion along with other things for which it is but a part (e.g., women's equality) has long been a major political football, the book Linda Greenhouse co-authored arguing that it is wrong to blame Roe v. Wade in particular, especially since the effort started before the opinion was handed down. Put aside that abortion is not the only area where rights are enforced by the courts, rightly so, and it results into political controversy. Abortion has gone national yet again, the latest the let's be blunt, asinine controversy over fetal tissue. Again, nothing really new, as Lepore's piece noted in 2011:
The fury over Planned Parenthood is two political passions—opposition to abortion and opposition to government programs for the poor—acting as one. So far, it has nearly led to the shutdown of the federal government, required Republican Presidential nominees to swear their fealty to the pro-life lobby, tied up legislatures and courts in more than half a dozen states, launched a congressional investigation, and helped cripple the Democratic Party. What’s next?
And, the issue has gone down to f-ing birth control. In the past, multiple Presidents, including Republicans, supported birth control. Michelle Goldberg wrote a good book, The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, and the Future of the World, which covered some of the history here. George Bush (41) was a major supporter too. This was in the age where being a pro-choice Republican wasn't such a courageous act. Again, Lepore, who is one of the best popular historians of the day:
Before the mid-nineteen-sixties, birth control had largely been privately funded; clinics affiliated with Planned Parenthood ran on donations, grants, and fees for service. “I cannot imagine anything more emphatically a subject that is not a proper political or governmental activity or function or responsibility,” Dwight Eisenhower said in 1959. “That’s not our business.” But by 1965, as concerns about overpopulation, worldwide, began to dominate policy debates, Eisenhower had reversed his position on family planning, serving with Harry Truman as co-chairman of a Planned Parenthood committee.
There is and must be some common ground here. There are ways to deal with women's health, unwanted pregnancies and other matters for which a strongly anti-abortion individual (use that term advisedly, since some might accept the choice) can find room for agreement with a pro-choice individual who accepts abortion as moral in various instances or simply thinks it is a woman's choice. There is also a more minimal line in the fucking sand. The line that opposes use of violence. A co-pastor died here. That is just a blatant fu to religious people, akin to the doctor murdered in the vestibule of a church. Is there no shame here? No room to voice the horror of tactics even if abortion horrifies you? Simply saying you are against violence isn't enough. We are for/against various things and blandly say that. It's easy. It is something else to firmly, strongly say something and show you mean it by act and deed. At some point, ENOUGH.
Those who support abortion rights can and must do more. For instance, when so much time is spent/wasted on fake controversies, even a special committee set up to let's admit it -- death makes one take the gloves off -- troll (some honest opposition is involved here too, but as the heroine in that Nigerian novel noted, even "good" motives doesn't cover the bad sometimes), what about some effort to deal with clinic violence and related issues? Equal time at least would seem warranted. To show some that anti-abortion isn't just -- and I don't think it is though it's infected by it -- anti-women hypocritical actions infused with a retrogressive religious belief.
We will never totally stop the unhinged in this country but there are things we can do. Each incident like this also brings to the fore the issue of guns. What more regulation can do here will be a matter of seeing all the details, but as in other areas, there is an overall effect here. Each action, like each action of our lives, need not directly do something. But, in some fashion they can matter. Careful responses (see, e.g., the House bill after the Paris bombings regarding Syrian refugees) should be the name of the game in the promotion of all policies, even ones "we" think good ones. Nonetheless, enough with this lame need for specificity, as if unless something clearly would have stopped "x," it is pointless.
The below is part of the whole thing here, since I think it is representative of a wider issue, but tack it on at the end here since it might seem personal. The personal provides our direct reactions to things that touch upon wider issues and should not be unduly belittled. I do remain a bit wary about such things and try to not cite personal examples in my discussions. This is partially out of privacy, but also since it is somewhat limiting.
I recently noted (in response to this article) that in the battle of two anti-choice candidates in Louisianan, a lesser evil might be the end result. For instance, noted (as did Mother Jones, after he won) how Edwards supports Medicaid expansion. He also is better than Vitter (yeah that guy) in other ways. Ann Northrup on Gay USA, after her co-host Andy Humm noted he won and noted the Medicaid issue, simply noted in an "of course" tone agreeing he would be better. Someone was upset though -- she seemed to think I selectively wanted women to settle here though I over and over again tried to show (1) as I do loads of times at the blog, support abortion rights (2) the basic concept of lesser evil and how it applies to everyone.
Not listening, it was a lost cause, even when I tried (but for some reason why I was asking was apparently mysterious) to suggest a hypo pre-Roe v. Wade where both candidates often were against abortion. Someone who is usually supportive of me argued that I was somehow selectively using examples that burdened women (multiple cites to gay men, e.g., or how Medicaid expansion helps women to no avail) particularly since abortion only "affected women." At some point, a tad pissed off, I added that when a man's daughter is denied rights here being argued to be the most important of them all ("bodily autonomy" in general now not as core as women's autonomy, I guess). The person did not apologize or say "I understand what you are saying but" ... she is left wondering how I can say gays might themselves suffer in ways lesbians do not. IOW, this is the only case where women particularly are harmed at this level.
One of the articles cited above noted: "Alan Guttmacher had watched a woman die of a botched abortion, and had never forgotten it." It deeply affected him and he felt it was his life's work to address such issues. Men died yesterday. When a girl or women doesn't have an abortion she might otherwise choose to have, men are affected. They for one thing become fathers of children who are born and out in the world. It is patently obvious that abortion specifically affects females and some other matter affects some other group. But, doesn't just affect them.
Among other things, this mind-set is tragic, in part since it helps promote what the people hate -- an idea that something is really important to only "them," and "them" might be a bigger group than some might wish to think. RBG, for instance, has noted that abortion rights are particularly a class issue. Limits particularly harm those without the means. So, even those who might need an abortion at some point (not covering all women) might belittle the importance of this issue. Fill in the blank there too.
This goes back to the lesser evil thing. Anti-choice rhetoric, for instance, is threatening in various respects. But, there are degrees there, just as there are in anything of great importance. Sometimes, the best we can do is limit the damage. So, when anti-choice individuals and group in some serious way strongly oppose violence, it matters. Some will sneer. They will (rightly) think these people are still doing a lot of harm. But, we do not live in utopia. Limited advancements are still advancements and some strange bedfellows will be in place.