It’s nice to already know the Republicans’ strategy as they lurch toward the long and bumpy road to someone else’s presidency. Removes the mystery.
Their new mantra, in GOP-speak: So long, ladies.
I’ll give them this: They’re no longer pretending to care about us. Yay for them for ending that charade. They don’t want us, and apparently they’ve decided they don’t need us. Or, as Jeb Bush put it on Tuesday: “I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues.”
Later, he said he misspoke — into the microphone, I took that to mean.
Last month, a fake group with a fake name released hidden-camera video it claimed showed Planned Parenthood illegally selling tissue from aborted fetuses. This was a lie. Nonetheless, Republicans heralded it as their version of proof that (a) women cannot be trusted to make decisions about their own health care, (b) Planned Parenthood — cue Star Wars‘ “Imperial March” — is the Evil Empire and (c) this is what happens when you give women the vote.
Nobody has said the last one — yet — but just remember you heard it here first when they do.
When I say Republicans, by the way, I don’t mean all you sensible conservatives out there who are shaking your heads at this latest round of right-wing extremism. I mean the right-wing extremists who claim they’re speaking for you. That must get so old.
This week, Senate Republicans tried and failed to defund Planned Parenthood, but their tent is still standing. As the Washington Post‘s Mike DeBonis reported, the show will go on:
“Defunding Planned Parenthood is now a centerpiece of the Republican agenda going into the summer congressional recess, and some hardliners have said they are willing to force a government shutdown in October if federal support for the group is not curtailed.”
Federal law already prevents Planned Parenthood from using federal money for abortions, which constitute a slim 3 percent of all that it does to help families. Most of its federal money is reimbursement for medical services to low-income women. There’s a tried and true tactic: Let’s target those least likely to fight for themselves.
In May, Gallup asked Americans to respond with either “morally acceptable” or “morally unacceptable” to this question: “How about medical research using stem cells obtained from human embryos?”
Sixty-four percent said it was morally acceptable. Every year since 2002, the majority of Americans have said the same thing.
Not coincidentally, Republicans aren’t talking about the research with fetal tissue collected with patients’ permission at Planned Parenthood. It’s saving lives, including those of babies, and giving hope to millions of people with devastating diseases.
Most of us, regardless of our politics, are grateful for this research that helped produce vaccines against chickenpox, rubella, shingles, rabies and hepatitis A.
We’re also keen on the Harvard Stem Cell Institute’s report last year that researchers “found that fetal dopamine cells transplanted into the brains of patients with Parkinson’s Disease were able to remain healthy and functional for up to 14 years.”
Think of the last 14 years of your life, or of someone you love. That was a whole lot of living, wasn’t it?
Republicans don’t talk about any of this because connecting the dots between Planned Parenthood and this medical research is definitely not a chapter that fits into their fiction. Nor do they mention that research on fetuses from miscarriages and abortions has been going on since the 1930s.
I can hear it from here: “What? Abortions in the 1930s?”
Or to quote from Sandra Boynton’s “Moo Baa La La La,” my baby granddaughter’s favorite cardboard book (this week), “‘No, no,’ you say, ‘that isn’t right.'”
Well, yes it is, but Republicans lie about it both day and night.
Katha Pollitt, in her well-researched book titled Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, explains that, for the longest time, politicians didn’t care about abortion. Then women started to matter, politically and economically. For this, we had to pay.
“As long as women were firmly ensconced in the family as wives and mothers with few rights and little social power,” she writes, “abortion was legal or tolerated as a way to save unmarried daughters from shame, limit family size, and protect exhausted mothers from the rigors of yet more pregnancies and births. … But once middle-class white women began to emancipate themselves and get involved in public and political life … abortion took on its modern meaning of self-determination and independence and active decision making.”
Here’s a question: Why do we keep casting women’s health care as a “women’s issue”?
Don’t all the men who love women also want them to be healthy? Don’t most children benefit if their mothers are, you know, alive? Isn’t the entire country better off if our womenfolk are strong and sturdy?
So many questions, so little interest.
Or so they hope.
Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and an essayist for Parade magazine. She is the author of two books, including …and His Lovely Wife, which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. To find out more about Connie Schultz ([email protected]) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Photo: Protesters gather outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Vista, California August 3, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Blake