Stop Slogan-Voting. Stop Hate-Voting. Stop Being Manipulated. Part 5. Women’s Health = Slogan Voting

I am a Jesus-loving, Catechism-following, pro-life feminist. 

It appears that by simply being my own contrary self, I have done something most people regard as impossible. I have brought the polar opposites of our cultural divide together.

The polar righties see pro-life feminists in much the same way bumper stickers describe pro-choice Catholics: as Vegans for Meat. The polar lefties agree with them. To polar lefties, feminism is abortion. In their myopic view, abortion equals human rights for women in an exact and all-encompassing equation that admits no exceptions.

I am a feminist, and I am pro-life. I believe what my Church teaches. I love God and Jesus and I have yet to find anything in that which requires me to hate myself because I was born female.

It would follow that I must, by definition, be in favor of “Women’s Health.” What kind of feminist would not favor women’s health? In fact, what kind of Christian would oppose women’s health?

The truth is, I do favor women’s health care. It took me two years to pass a bill requiring insurance companies to cover pap smears for women. I spent five years passing another bill to make it a crime to beat up a pregnant woman. I got yelled at by members of both parties for advocating prenatal care for illegal immigrants.

I could go on. And on.

However, none of these things qualifies as “Women’s Health” according to those who have taken this noble concern and co-opted it for their own purposes. I believe their misuse of the term is deliberate.

It took decades for “I Vote Pro Life” to become just another way for party power brokers to encourage blind allegiance to a political party, even when that party killed pro-life legislation. Most pro-life people side-stepped into it because they felt morally blackmailed; unable to see any alternative. I think that the people who push for “Women’s Health” knew what they were doing from the get-go and actively chose it.

“Women’s Health,” as they use the phrase, never meant women’s health. It never pretended except in the most obvious we-don’t-care-if-you-see-what-we’re-doing way to be anything more than what it is: A synonym for abortion on demand and a funding slogan for Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood has become one of the most avaricious of the big-money Welfare Queens. Any attempt to reduce funding for Planned Parenthood is met with wild and inaccurate claims that these moves are, in fact, an attack on women and “Women’s Health.”

This article from Huffington Post is an example. It describes a vote in the United States House of Representatives to cut funding for Planned Parenthood. Rhetoric similar to this is routinely used against those who try to de-fund Planned Parenthood. It says in part:

House Republicans voted on Friday to strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood, cutting money for contraceptives, HIV tests, cancer screenings and reproductive health services as part of an attempt to weaken the abortion provider. Planned Parenthood does not currently spend federal money on abortion services.

… In a statement, Planned Parenthood called the amendment “radically out of step with mainstream American values” and called on the Senate to restore their subsidies “Ensuring that millions of women can obtain health care from their trusted provider … (emphasis added)

I will write other posts talking about whether or not I think the claims concerning Planned Parenthood’s services are accurate. The point here is that the article equates government funding for Planned Parenthood with preserving “Women’s Health,” and that it implies that the only possible way that the government can make contraception, cancer screening and HIV tests available to the public is by funding Planned Parenthood. I believe that both these claims are untrue on their face.

“Women’s Health” as a slogan rather than a concern for actual women’s health took a major step forward with the Affordable Health Care Act (i.e., Obamacare) and the HHS Mandate attacking religious freedom that came from it.

In my opinion, the Affordable Health Care Act could be re-named the Planned Parenthood Government Dole Act. The only flaw in that name is that the word dole brings to mind the caricature of a welfare recipient; someone living in government housing, watching tv all day and eating junk food. Planned Parenthood, on the other hand, is a powerful organization whose board members are usually drawn from among the most wealthy and powerful members of our communities. The “dole” that it’s on amounts to 100s of millions of dollars, all flowing into coffers that are linked to abortion on demand.

The Affordable Health Care Act provides funding for Planned Parenthood in many ways. One of the most lucrative for the organization will almost certainly be the provision for grants of government monies to “health care providers,” including grants for health care education. I believe it is inevitable that this will funnel hundreds of millions of tax-payer dollars into Planned Parenthood coffers. This greed for more and more government money on the part of Planned Parenthood appears to be one of the driving forces behind the HHS Mandate.

Many people do not understand that the HHS Mandate which attacks our religious freedom in this country is not a law. It was not passed by any legislative body. I do not believe that a majority of elected officials in any legislative body in this country could have been persuaded to vote for this mandate.

The HHS Mandate is an agency rule which was promulgated by the members of a committee of the Health and Human Services Department. The members of this committee were appointed, not elected, and as such were not answerable to the people of this country. Many of the members of the Health and Human Services committee that gave us the HHS Mandate are supporters of Planned Parenthood. It is, as most things in politics ultimately are, about money.

If this mandate succeeds in forcing the Catholic Church to close its hospitals, universities and social welfare clinics, that will inevitably lead to a huge rise in “need” for money-hungry organizations to target and then demand funds for. It is standard practice for corporate welfare queens to go to legislative bodies and demand “reforms” that will force their small business competitors to shut down. I view this mandate as something akin to that. The only snag in the plan is the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

As usual, the organizations and the politicians who are backing the HHS Mandate claim that all they care about is “women’s health.” How shutting down hospitals, forcing the closure of many of our finest institutions of higher learning and closing the doors to social welfare agencies who aid women will accomplish this, they do not say. After all, in their narrow lexicon, “Women’s Health” is Planned Parenthood, and little else.

Planned Parenthood and their allies in the media and politics have so warped the issue of women’s health that they have cast the debate entirely around what is good for Planned Parenthood. Anything that is deemed bad for Planned Parenthood is immediately characterized as an “attack on Women’s Health.” In fact, in the current presidential election, this has been broadened to mean that anything that is bad for Planned Parenthood or that even disagrees with one of their objectives, is part of a “War on Women.”

I am not a Republican. I emphatically do not agree with the way that the Republican Party has sold out to corporate interests. In fact, I think Republican corporatism is a danger to our Republic. But I think the so-called “War on Women” is a bogus accusation. I am starting my 17th year as a pro-woman legislator and I can tell you that both parties are indifferent to women’s concerns. However, if anybody is waging war on women, it’s the group of people who have decided that anything that is done to women in the name of funding for Planned Parenthood and the preservation of the “right to choose” is, in fact, “women’s rights.”

When you have people who claim that they own the whole question of “women’s health” but who don’t report sexual abuse and rape of minor children or human trafficking, you know you are dealing with a callous and deliberate lie. When you see people who won’t “judge” attempts to buy an abortion to kill a baby simply because she is a girl, then saying that anyone who wants to reduce their government funding is “waging war on women,” you should be able to see that the real issue is not women and their well-being but government money.

I know that there are good people who support “the right to chose” out of a humanitarian concern for the welfare of women. I believe that many of the issues they raise, such as the horror of rape, legal discriminations against pregnant women, and the health and security of children in our society are actually well-taken. Where I disagree with them is in their assumption that abortion is the best, and maybe even the only, solution for these problems. The answer to legal and social discrimination and violence against women is NOT to give women the right to kill their own child. The answer is to address those problems as the evils that they are and do something about them.

However, an approach like that would also shine the light of reality on the argument that organizations that make huge amounts of money from abortion are in fact the guardians of “Women’s Health.”

The truth of the matter is that Planned Parenthood has become the sole voice for “Women’s Rights” within the Democratic Party, despite the fact that it was never a women’s rights organization. From its founding to the present day, Planned Parenthood has focused on issues of population control to the exclusion of what is in the best interests of women.

While the ability to limit family size clearly can benefit women, Planned Parenthood has focused on methods of contraception that are often dangerous or, in the case of abortion, dehumanizing to women. Dangerous birth control includes drastic chemical interventions in women’s normal body processes such as depo provera, dangerous contraceptive devices such as IUDs and the mass marketing of large-dose hormone interventions such as the so-called morning after pill.

Here in Oklahoma, some of the most vociferous supporters of Planned Parenthood’s so-called “Women’s Health” are former Planned Parenthood board members who also engage in making money by farming women’s bodies for eggs. The fact that these are prominent people is, in my opinion, why the Chamber of Commerce in Oklahoma has played a large part in killing pro-life legislation in the Republican-held legislature.

Real women’s health issues are subverted and essentially buried in a focus on funding things that can destroy a woman’s reproductive health in real life. I have a cousin (now deceased) who suffered repeated blood clots as a result of taking birth control pills. I have personally talked to women who forfeited their own fertility to egg harvesters, and I know women whose menstrual periods ceased and did not re-start after taking depo provera.

Where in any of this is women’s health? And why is the government required to spend hundreds of millions of dollars funding a single organization in order to provide for “Women’s Health?”

I think one of the reasons why is that if they don’t, they will be accused of waging “war” on half the electorate.

I am a feminist. But I believe that “Women’s Health” as it is being used in today’s electioneering is nothing more than slogan-voting. As slogan-voting, it not only doesn’t make women healthier, it endangers their welfare.

The equation is:

Women’s Health = Slogan Voting

 

 

  • Arkenaten

    Phew, a long and complicated argument, covering several topics, Rebecca.
    Bottom line for you,(and every pro-life, I guess) is no abortion and ideally, legislate against it and, ultimately change consciousness regarding termination.
    But how are you (and others) planning to alleviate this problem to achieve a win-win scenario?
    Also, I stand under correction, but I have not heard you offer alternatives for rape victims for example or taken into account how many of these women must feel about carrying to term a foetus from a rapist? Even more so if the rapist is HIV positive?
    I also note that you skirt around certain contraceptive issues, focussing primarily on female contraception.
    I understand the Catholic Church appears to have tempered its stance somewhat in recent years but I was under the impression that Catholic Doctrine still adheres to the belief that anything which interferes with the natural function for procreation is regarded as a sin.
    How much ‘rule bending ‘ is allowed? And where does one draw the line between religious conviction
    and adherence to Church Law and common sense regarding prevention?

  • Laura

    Arkenaten, surely you don’t believe that abortion prevents HIV transmission. Both Rebecca and the Catholic Church are in favor of giving rape victims the anti-retroviral drugs that will reduce their risk of contracting the disease from their assailants. These drugs have nothing to do with abortion at all.
    Her point is rather this: there have been repeated, documented cases of child rape victims and trafficked women being brought in to Planned Parenthood clinics BY THEIR RAPISTS for abortions, and PP took the money and kept their mouths shut. PP and its supporters have ZERO moral authority to claim to be defending the well-being of rape victims against pro-lifers.

    • Arkenaten

      Of course I don’t believe abortion prevents HIV. Good grief, I live in South Africa, which has the highest rate of HIV in the world. Credit me with a modicum of intelligence, for goodness’ sake.
      What I am saying is the victim may be even less inclined to keep the child if her rapist is a carrier.
      I am not disputing the arguments against the clinics. What they are covering up I consider criminal. What I am trying to get to the bottom of is simply this: the Catholic Church’s stance on contraception. No mention of condoms has been raised in these articles.
      If the argument is to seek a ban on abortion, or make it illegal, and if Catholic Doctrine is against contraception what alternatives are pro lifers offering?
      In fact, what alternatives are there?
      If Catholic dogma is to be followed, that of any interference with the natural function of procreation, irrespective under what conditions sexual intercourse occurs, then the answer is none, and believe me, this answer will be unacceptable to the majority.

      • Rebecca Hamilton

        Douglas, this post is not about Church teaching. It is about the use of sloganeering to manipulate the electorate.

      • Ted Seeber

        “What I am saying is the victim may be even less inclined to keep the child if her rapist is a carrier.”

        Which is a ridiculous idea, because if she is pregnant, then she has *already been exposed*.

      • Ted Seeber

        2nd reply- why do you believe alternatives are necessary? Attack the criminal, not the victim(s).

  • snowygreen

    Thank you for this post. I am also a pro-life, Catholic feminist. My issue with your post is the lack of sources, and I’m speaking partially as an academic. I think your argument can be strengthened by having sources, and I would love to read more about each, as then your claims could not be simply dismissed as empty rhetoric. For example, I want to know more about PP Board members profiting from egg harvesting, and thus, need that claim substantiated.

    I appreciate all that you are doing and thank you for your service as a Public Catholic and for standing up for the “unpopular” (ie not white ,western women’s) feminism, such as prenatal care for immigrants. I hope my asking you to support your claims with sources will not be taken as criticism, but rather, as a desire for more conversations like the ones you are beginning on your blog.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      The former Planned Parenthood board member I am referring to is Dr Eli Reshef. It takes several links to source what I said and that’s why I didn’t do it; the page looks so cluttered it creates a bad reading experience. But I think you’re right. I’ll go back and link to the things I’m saying. I may not have time to do it all until later this evening. Thanks for your comment.

      • Rebecca Hamilton

        I’ve added sources for everything but Dr Reshef. I don’t have the sources for that on my laptop. I’ll have to wait until later today when I have access to my home office to add those. Thanks again for your suggestion.

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          I want to add that there are many other sources for each of these same things. I just grabbed the ones closest to hand because I’m in a hurry.

          • snowygreen

            Rebecca, thank you for adding sources for some of your claims. I was looking for an email for you so as not to inundate your combox with links, but I wanted to send you some regarding your claims on DepoProvera. You are right that there are many problems with that form of BC, as there are with all forms, from even a simply medical perspective. What is interesting to note is that these “long-acting” drugs are pushed on women of color and those in poverty. Here is but one on DP: http://cwpe.org/files/criticallook.pdf. There are a host of academic, peer-reviewed journal articles and books that deal with the ways that brown and poor women’s bodies have been the sites of unwanted sterilization, birth control, etc., which can bolster your argument. While organizations which oppose these practices are not always anti-abortion or all forms of BC, I think they can be valuable allies.

            Regarding your sources for the planned parenthood aiding and abetting sex trafficking, I think you need to tread carefully. For example, this Washington Post article states that reports were made (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/01/AR2011020106135.html?hpid=moreheadlines). As someone who has researched and worked with sex trafficking victims internationally, the place to start is with the trafficked person. One of the transcripts I read had the PP person stating that minors would have to come in and be seen in order to get “services”. This is the moment where law enforcement and advocates are called in, not for the supposed “pimp.” Now what PP does if they are faced with real trafficked girls and women is another story, but I do think that making the often culturally dismissed arguments that we make as Catholics, we need to be very careful in the kind of evidence and sources we rely upon in order to a) be taken seriously and b) be effective in our argumentation.

            Thank you again for this conversation.

      • Ted Seeber

        http://www.eggdonor.com/blog/2010/03/26/oklahoma-egg-donor-bill-tabled-for-this-session/

        Seems to be an article from the other side against Rebecca’s bill, and Dr Reshef is quoted as being for egg harvesting for profit.

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          That’s the guy Ted. Thanks.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I added another link the one of the videos re Planned Parenthood and human trafficking. I think the video speaks for itself. As for the Washington Post article, I believe it is an attempt to white wash Planned Parenthood rather than serious journalism.
      That’s an excellent article on Depo Provera. Thanks for the link.

  • http://heartonthejourney.wordpress.com Paul Bradford

    I’ve been saying this for quite some time and, truthfully, I come to believe it more and more every day: “The true sign of faith isn’t a belief in the existence of God, it’s a belief in the existence of other human beings.”

    Rebecca, I shall confess that I have wasted a phenomenal number of hours over the past few years attempting to engage Pro-Choice advocates in conversation about life issues via the ‘net. Try this: type “Paul Bradford Catholic” into your search engine and see what you get. I can’t bear to look at it anymore! I only succeeded in making an ass of myself.

    I suppose I had to go through that experience in order to get it through my stone head that the issue isn’t going to be resolved by rational and respectful dialogue. The problem isn’t a lack of education — the problem is a lack of repentance. “They will look and never see, listen and never hear — unless they turn their hearts to the LORD.”

    If you’re talking to somebody who sincerely has trouble figuring out what the ethical responsibilities of a pregnant woman are, you’re talking to someone who’s taken a wrong turn at the very foundation of spirituality. Set the abortion question aside and roll it back to the BIG questions. Talk about the purpose of life. The person who believes that the purpose of life is to make ‘choices’ with the idea of gaining personal satisfaction is a person who lives in spiritual darkness. To repent is to accept the fact that we’re on earth for each other. My faith that other people exist, my faith that YOU exist, is a manifestation of spiritual sight — and I’m blind until Jesus opens my eyes.

    If I can’t ‘see’ you, I don’t actually believe you exist — not as a human being. Without sight, without spiritual sight, you will either be a resource for me to exploit as I attempt to fulfill the dream I have ‘chosen’ or you will be an obstacle I’ve got to remove in order to reach the goal of ‘happiness’ I’ve chosen for myself.

    On the other hand, if I do ‘see’ you I also see my own obligation to support your well being. I understand that my personal satisfaction isn’t a bit more important than your personal satisfaction. I understand that I’m here for you and you’re here for me. Your dependence is my responsibility. To whatever degree self-support isn’t viable in your life — and none of us is actually viable — your welfare is my concern.

    Until the person you’re talking to embraces that truth, a discussion about abortion is a tragic waste of time.

    That’s what I’ve concluded out of painful personal experience.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Paul, I did as you suggested and googled you. I think your comments that I found were intelligent, thoughtful and on point. You went to sites where you were bound to encounter people who feel a deep commitment to legal abortion and who were bound to rebuff you.

      The thing you may be missing is that we are called to be a faithful witness to Christ. We are not called to succeed in changing people’s hearts. That is the work of the Holy Spirit, not us. All any one has to do is their part. A faithful witness can be engaging in discussion about a public issue such as the sanctity of human life from a Christian viewpoint. A faithful witness might also be driving in from a camping trip to go to mass while your non-Christian friends sleep in; not, mind you, making a big deal about it; just doing it. Faithful living is always a faithful witness and often the most powerful kind.

      One important thing to remember is that it’s more important for people to find Christ than it is for them to change their politics on a issue. For instance, I had a powerful conversion experience and did not at the time know that I was doing anything wrong by being pro choice. To the contrary, I thought what I was doing by advocating for legal abortion was a positive good. God accepted me as I was, without conditions. It took a while, but He changed me. He’s changing me still. Conversion is not a one-shot deal. It’s on-going and life-long. We grow in Christ as we live in Christ.

      Just trust God and do what He calls you to do. Do your best. Give it all your thought and ability. Then trust Him with the result and don’t worry about it.

      These people you witnessed to are in His hands. He loves them as much as He does you or me or anyone else. You never know when something you said that seemed to have been utterly rejected has stayed in their heart and bears fruit. It can happen a long time later and you may never know about it in this life.

      As I said, do your part, say your prayers and trust God. That’s all there is to it.

      Blessing, dear brother.

  • Bill S

    “I know that there are good people who support “the right to chose” out of a humanitarian concern for the welfare of women.”

    I think everyone should have that kind of humanitatian concern. It seems unthinkable that anyone would want to deny a woman the right to terminate a pregnancy, especially at an early stage. The fact that it has been legal for 40 years is a testament to the freedom that this country provides for its citizens.

    • http://fpb.livejournal.com/ Fabio P.Barbieri

      No, it is a testament to the tyranny of nine guys in black. That their tyranny also flatters your selfish attitudes is not an argument in its favour. And that you cannot even understand opposing arguments does not speak on behalf either of your intelligence or of your understanding.

      Let me explain something to you. To come to a blog like this with your kind of blunt, unargued, barely articulated assertion that abortion is great and that is all there is to is to prove that you have never entertained a thought about it. You don’t even understand that you might have to ARGUE on behalf of your viewpoint. You have not prepared yourself to meet people who disagree with you. And so you waste your time and ours. There is no purpose to be served by your blunt assertion; you have wasted your time.

  • FW Ken

    It’s a side point, but please accept my admiration for fighting for immigrant children. I won’t hijack the thread, but it’s a concern of mine.

  • Indy

    Beautiful post Rebecca. God bless you and thank you for so eloquently articulating the intersection between faith, feminism and abortion. It does exist contrary to the denial of both political parties.


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