The Reaction To Stupak: What’s Really Pissing Me Off

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The Reaction To Stupak: What’s Really Pissing Me Off

Meteor Blades

"Irrational." "Hypersensitive." "Hysterical." The tone of comments on Daily Kos around the abomination known as the Stupak-Pitts Amendment is: "Calm down, little lady. Get real. Be adults. Doncha know how politics really works?"

This article was originally published on Daily Kos.

"Irrational." "Hypersensitive." "Overreacting." "Hysterical."

Women recognize these words all too well. They’re put-downs many of
them have had thrown at them all their lives anytime they raise issues
about their treatment in relationships, school, the workplace or
society at large.

These words and others of similar ilk have found their way into
diaries and comments here at Daily Kos yesterday and today around the
abomination known as the Stupak-Pitts Amendment. Calm down, little lady, is the tone. Get real. Be adults. Doncha know how politics really works?

Roe has collapsed and Texas is in chaos.

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Pffffffft.

Many of these sexist critiques are then followed up by a distortion
of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment itself, all of which amounts to the view
that this is no big deal, that it does nothing more than the Hyde
Amendment, the sexist, classist abomination that has been on the books
in one form or another since 1976. In fact, as mcjoan pointed out earlier today, the Stupak-Pitts coathanger amendment goes a good deal further than Hyde.

So besides engaging in put-downs, the patronizers have it dead
wrong. This isn’t a tempest in a teapot. It matters. And it matters big
time, as at least 40 members of Congress led by Colorado Rep. Diana
DeGette have made pretty damn clear.
If the Democratic leadership doesn’t come to grips with this, they’re
heading the party for big trouble next November, an election month that
already may be a difficult time for the party given the state of an
economy that may be getting better on paper but is, at best, many
months away from even beginning to trickle down to where people
actually live their lives.

Even those who aren’t willing to back off from their cries of
"irrational" and "too much emo" ought to recognize the anti-utilitarian
nature of their views that Stupak-Pitts is a no-consequence blip.
Money, organizing time, phone bank participation, precinct walking and,
on election day, votes are going to be in much shorter supply in
November than would otherwise be the case unless something is done to
strip this amendment in the Senate-House conference. Right now, the
prospects for that are dicey.

About five minutes after the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade,
the anti-abortion forces began a war on the rights confirmed by that
decision. But their molester-enabling, coathanger-selling,
health-shattering, woman-hating, forced-pregnancy campaign was
two-pronged, a direct assault but also an asymmetrical war, a nibble
here, a nibble there.

And at every step of the way, some people who claimed they were
pro-choice said that this little nibble or that little nibble wasn’t
such a big deal. It only affected a small group of people or it was
only the case rarely, we were told. The activists who challenged these
nibbles were characterized as "hypersensitive," "irrational," and
"over-reacting." Not by their enemies. But by their supposed allies.

Over the decades, while engaging in a campaign of intimidation,
harassment and murder, the anti-abortion movement has managed, nibble
by nibble, to get ever-more restrictive legislation into place.
Ultimately, the right of affluent women to obtain an abortion hasn’t
been much affected – except in the case of late-term procedures. But
affluent women always had options even when abortion was illegal in
every state. They could fly to Puerto Rico or Japan and get a safe
abortion there without having to risk potentially lethal chemicals or
abortions at the hands of unlicensed doctors or other providers
operating on somebody’s kitchen table in less than sterile conditions.

Thanks to Hyde, low-income women in most states are still at a
disadvantage when it comes to getting an abortion. Stupak-Pitts, if it
survives the conference process, will not only reinforce this classist
attack on women, it will also broaden it.

Being ferociously opposed to it is, therefore, not irrational or
hypersensitive or over-reactive. It’s called standing up for
progressive values.

Thirty-six years ago, just a couple of months after Roe v. Wade
was decided, Dr. Bob MacFarland and 14 more of us got together in
Boulder County, Colorado, to set up the Boulder Valley Clinic, now the
Boulder Valley Women’s Health Clinic. It was the state’s first
standalone abortion clinic, and one of the first nonprofit abortion
clinics in the United States.

We came from various walks of life – physicians, a nurse, two
lawyers, a journalist, a professor, a librarian, a minister, two
graduate students. Three of us were Republican women, veteran
volunteers of Planned Parenthood. Our common goal: to provide women
with a place to obtain the safe abortions the Supreme Court had ruled
was their constitutional right.

Abortion foes attacked us immediately, incessantly, from the Op-Ed
pages of the local newspapers to the halls of the state legislature.
Some legislators and city councilmembers, numerous doctors, and, of
course, fanatics of the not-yet-named "right-to-life" community did
their worst to shut us down.

We were slandered and libeled repeatedly. Aborted fetuses, it was
ridiculously claimed, were being dumped in cans in the alley behind the
clinic, to be hauled away once a week by garbage trucks. Every member
of the board received phoned and written death threats. Tires were
slashed. Rocks were thrown through windows. Graffiti was sprayed. In
early 1975, the clinic was the first of scores in the nation to be
fire-bombed, with a Molotov cocktail. The terrorists struck at night,
and either through bad aim or some other miscalculation in the
darkness, set our garage on fire, which was quickly extinguished.

Many a day one or more of us stood sentinel while sometimes
aggressive foes of the clinic picketed, shouted Bible verses or
epithets at patients and staff, or jostled and grabbed women in an
attempt to persuade or intimidate them not to follow through on the
choice they had made. We filled out dozens of police-incident reports.

Across the nation, similar tactics were adopted. And far worse, of
course, as abortion providers were gunned down, just as Dr. George
Tiller was last May. The only doctor who openly does late-term
abortions now won’t sit in a window with the shades open because he’s
been threatened by some fanatic who told him a bulletproof vest won’t
do any good because his killer will aim for a head shot.

Over time the number of America’s hospitals that perform abortions
has dropped to less than 10% and the percentage of counties with
abortion providers has dropped to 13%.

In the past decade, nearly 500 state laws have been enacted to
restrict choice. Every state has passed at least one such law. More
than 2800 abortion-restricting bills have been introduced at the state
level, and more than 200 have passed.

For those who might suggest this is one of those damned "social
issues" that gets the Democrats in trouble on election day, let’s not
forget that it’s at its core a class war, as Stupak-Pitts makes quite
clear. Affluent women will always find a way to find a safe and legal
abortion. Insurance or no insurance.

Stupak-Pitts may only be another nibble, but it is the cumulative
effect that matters. Eventually, lots of little nibbles equal the
entire pie. Those who say our vigorous, uncompromising opposition to it
is an irrational overreaction ought to be ashamed of themselves.