Most recently Marty has called attention to the closing of clinics that provide basic women's health services, including contraception, to women whose financial resources are limited. As we have seen all too much of in the past couple of years, the attacks on clinics touch all the bases—cutting off funding, setting up special rules, applying existing rules nonsensically, requiring unnecessary remodeling, mucking around with licensing. If, despite every machination, a clinic meets all the rules, then some new measure will be attempted. The basic philosophy behind these attacks? Whatever works.
The woman-haters running this effort to undermine reproductive rights like to claim it's all about making sure no taxpayer money goes to clinics that perform abortions or refer clients to doctors who perform abortions or even mention the word "abortion" to women seeking their help. Tax money, they say, should not fund anything such clinics do even if zero of the dollars go for abortions. The Texas Observer reports:
In the year since deep cuts to family planning funding took effect, the impact has become apparent. An Observer review of state records has found that 146 clinics have lost state funds, clumped mainly in the Panhandle, Central Texas and on the border with Mexico. More than 60 of those clinics have closed their doors forever. The number of organizations that help poor women plan pregnancy has shrunk by almost half. As in San Saba, low-income women in many areas of Texas now face a long drive, or worse, lack of access to birth control and health screenings.[...]But where the so-called "pro-life" groups haven't succeeded as well as they have in Texas, they are ever on the look-out for other means of closing clinic doors.
In fact, of the more than 60 clinics that have closed across Texas, only 12 were run by Planned Parenthood. Dozens of other clinics unconnected to Planned Parenthood nonetheless lost state funds and have closed, leaving low-income women in wide swaths of the state without access to contraception.
In New Hampshire, for example, where the Republican Executive Council refused to renew a family planning contract last year with Planned Parenthood, a new tactic is now under way, Marty reports. Since Planned Parenthood no longer has a contract with the state, it's being argued that it no longer should be issued a state license to dispense birth control, emergency contraception (the "morning after" pill) or RU-486 (the abortion drug). Among those working on undermining the mission of Planned Parenthood in New Hampshire is the Cornerstone Action group. Chairwoman Shannon McGinley gives away the agenda in an op-ed she wrote:
"Furthermore, fertility is not a disease that needs to be managed with medical treatment, and we know the exact behavioral cause of pregnancy. With the price of birth control so low, no rational person would involve government in this situation where men and women should bear the full responsibility."In other words, pay for it yourself. Any rational person knows that, contrary to McGinley's claims, everyone cannot afford birth control and, since we do know the exact behavioral cause of pregnancy, we also know full well what will happen if it's not made available to those who can't afford it.
What these examples and the latest round of fighting over reproductive rights has shown over the past few years is how essential it is to take the progressive political agenda to the state level in a big way. That's where most policies are currently being made to women's detriment. Battling in the courts, battling in traditional protests, battling in the media and raising money for clinics are all crucial endeavors. But the electoral struggle to replace backwards state legislators and executives with liberal or at least more moderate officials should not be considered tangential to these other methods, nor is it tangental to the national fight. We can't expect to be effective without engaging in all arenas. That is what those who take our freedoms away do every day. It's a key reason they have been so successful.
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2007:
Republicans. Can't live with 'em. Can't live near 'em, either.
On Wednesday, I pointed to the insane Death Cult video that Republicans are trying to sell to the FBI for counter-terrorism training.
And there was the Baptist pastor calling on his flock to pray for the deaths of church/state separation activists.
Today, it's Minutemen, videotaping [Warning: family unfriendly audio. Oh, and murder, too.] their own
snuff pornvigilante execution of, well... nobody really knows who. And they might not really know who they say they shot, either. But the point for them is, they got to kill somebody.