Robert Lewis Dear, Republicans, & the war against my body.
Yo, did you know it’s easily accessible public knowledge that Planned Parenthood does not use federal funding for abortion services? Did you know that the federal funding is instead used for tests to stop the transmission of diseases, medications to allow for comprehensive family planning, and simple procedures for the detection of cancer? And did you know that Planned Parenthood provides this wonderful array of vital services centered on the core belief that women’s access to health and bodily autonomy are two fundamental human rights?
And yet I get this kind of feeling. This strange sense, this ‘women’s intuition’, this vibe, that for some reason, literally no one gives two shits.
“Why do you think no one gives two shits about quantitative, substantive evidence that a national organisation is saving women’s lives, Laura?”
Because on Friday last week, a fucking moron called Robert Lewis Dear walked into a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs with a gun and opened fire. Three people were killed. He used the phrase “no more baby parts” to justify his actions.
And because yesterday, the group of fucking morons that is the US senate approved legislation that will halt all federal payments to Planned Parenthood. Death toll is yet unconfirmed. There were probably some people sitting in their plush leather seats also muttering “no more baby parts.”
And because today I sit on social media and news websites, watching the country’s unfolding reaction. And because today I see that an overwhelmingly large portion of that reaction is entirely positive. People are happy about it.
I’m so tired. I don’t want to do any of this anymore.
In the days after Robert Lewis Dear sprayed a room with bullets, I had to sit and watch members of government refuse to call him a terrorist. I had to watch the media scramble to create a nuanced story of the “troubled white man.” I had to watch people verbally attack Planned Parenthood literally minutes after a man walked into one of their buildings and started shooting at them. I had to watch a congressman on CNN refer to Dear’s alleged issues with Planned Parenthood as an “evil response” to a “legitimate disagreement.”
Fancy that. In this day and age, there’s still a “legitimate disagreement” over women accessing healthcare.
Imagine if in the minutes after the planes flew into the twin towers, people started attacking the American Government for the damage they continued to cause in the Middle East. Imagine if in the hours after the towers fell, a congressman fronted the media and said that what happened on September 11th 2001 was the “evil response” of a “legitimate disagreement.”
The only difference between Middle Eastern (read: non-white) men committing the the terrorist act of flying planes into skyscrapers, and a white (read: white) man committing the terrorist act of of shooting up a Planned Parenthood clinic, is that a large chunk of the federal government wholeheartedly supports the terrorist movement that the white man subscribes to. And that was evidenced in the way they stripped Planned Parenthood of a third of its funding yesterday.
Congratulations America, the terrorists have won. The terrorists have won the war against STI tests, contraception and pap smears.
For now, Obama will veto the bill. For a few more months at least, Planned Parenthood will continue receiving the federal dollars they need to continue providing women with bodily autonomy. But the fact that a bill that strips Planned Parenthood of its capacity to provide women healthcare reached Obama’s desk in the first place is a huge win for the radical extremists and a huge loss for women. If the Republicans/radical extremists win the next presidential election, the losses women will face then are going to be monumental.
I wonder if these men get it.
I wonder if these men understand the idea of the physical pain that we feel while we sit in our beds on a Saturday morning reading story after story after story about how the people that we democratically elected prefer to side with a violent extremist rather than with us. Us — their mothers, their wives, their daughters, their sisters, their nieces, their girlfriends, their mistresses. I wonder if these men understand the overwhelming sense of hopelessness that we feel while we sit at our desks on a Friday morning not even a week later reading story after story after story about how the people that we democratically elected gave the terrorists exactly what they wanted.
I wonder if these men know what it feels like to be definitively told by the most powerful country in the world that your body is not your own, it is theirs, to do as they please with it.
I wonder if these men know that there are other men who pass on HIV to their partner and don’t tell them, and that it’s a Planned Parenthood employee who has to give her the news instead. I wonder if these men know there are other men who control every aspect of his partner’s life, including when they have sex and whether or not he’ll wear a condom; and that it’s a Planned Parenthood employee who has to provide her with a contraceptive that will stop her from getting pregnant [‘why doesn’t a woman in that situation leave?’ I can hear you ask. Sometimes it’s not that simple. And that decision is made even harder when you have a baby]. I wonder if these men know there are other men who go out at night and prey on women, and that it’s a Planned Parenthood employee who has to give that woman the Plan B pill after the rape kit confirms that he ejaculated inside of her. I wonder if these men know that there are other men who impregnate women and then refuse to support that woman in any capacity when she decides to keep the baby, and that it’s a Planned Parenthood employee who will hold her hand through all her prenatal check-ups.
I wonder if these men understand the feeling of betrayal when they, as congress, strip Planned Parenthood of their funding; effectively telling us “no, you can’t have any of it.”
Men taketh away, and then men taketh away again.
I wonder if these men understand the exhaustion we all feel as we stave off attack after attack against our bodies. We barely have time to fight our own battles in the advancement of women’s rights because we’re too busy defending any small wins we have made, that are at threat of being dismantled. It’s endless. It’s actually endless. It becomes so much sometimes that I wonder if it would just be easier to put down my weapons, open up my arms and go “fine. fine. this body is yours.”
I’m so tired. I’m so tired that I wondered if finishing this blog post would even be worth it. What good will it do, anyway?
But then I think of the fact that Planned Parenthood employees were shot at, and still returned to work the next day. Not even the threat of death could get them to close their doors.
Planned Parenthood checks for STIs, HIV, cancer. Planned Parenthood alerts us of pregnancy complications and potential birth complications. Planned Parenthood is there while we struggle with our sexuality and our gender, and is there for us when the confusion and backlash seems too hard to live with. Planned Parenthood connects us to the necessary services that will enable us to leave our partners when they’ve hit us so hard this time, that we thought we were going to die.
Planned Parenthood saves women’s lives.
U.S. congress does not want our lives saved.
It’s ironic; Robert Lewis Dear claiming to be pro-life as he walks into a room to shoot people dead. He’s not pro-life. He’s anti-women. So is U.S. congress. And together they have declared war against my body, a war in which no matter how hard I fight back, I know that eventually, one day, I will lose.
But then I think of everyone at Planned Parenthood that make the daily commute to work despite knowing that they’ll probably lose too. Because they believe that women are remarkable humans who deserve access to health, that women are remarkable humans who should have control of their own bodies. In the face of so much, they live every day with heart.
And I figure the least I can do is finish a fucking blog post.
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
This Saturday, 5th December 2015, is the National Day of #Solidarity with Planned Parenthood. All around the country, events are being held to show support for all of the incredible men and women who work every day to provide comprehensive, accessible healthcare. Please join me in New York to learn about how we can be advocates for healthcare, use social media for activism and write thank you cards for health center staff.