Be Careful What You Wish For

It really is hard to keep up with all of the Trump Administration’s assaults on modernity–its disavowal of science, its attacks on public education, immigrants and poor people, and of course, its persistent efforts to turn back the social clock to “times gone by,” when straight white Protestant men were kings.

One aspect of that relentless attack on equality–what you might call the “Mike Pencification” of policy–is the administration’s current determination to de-fund Planned Parenthood. After all, women who have access to birth control and Pap smears are free to enter the workforce and even the political arena. Their ability to plan their pregnancies even allows them to engage in lustful sex without incurring God’s disapproval in the form of an unplanned child.

Shades of Margaret Atwood. As Michelle Goldberg recently opined in the New York Times, 

Donald Trump’s administration turns the Gilead model upside down. Its public image is louche and decadent, with tabloid scandal swirling around the president and many of his associates. This can make it hard to focus on the unprecedented lengths the administration is going to curtail American women’s reproductive rights and enrich the anti-abortion movement.

On Friday, the Trump administration escalated its war on Planned Parenthood and the women who use it. It released a rule prohibiting Title X, a federal family-planning program that serves around four million low-income women, from funding organizations that also provide abortions. Further, the administration instituted an American version of the global gag rule, barring doctors and nurses receiving Title X funds from making abortion referrals to their patients except in certain emergency situations.

The new approach mirrors what Pence did in Indiana–it diverts funding from organizations operating on the basis of sound medical science and sends the monies instead to religious groups, many of which are not just anti-choice, but anti-contraception.

The administration appears to think that religious anti-abortion groups, including those opposed to contraception, will fill some of the gaps. The new regulation jettisons a requirement that Title X clinics provide “medically approved” family planning services. That means that funds that once went to Planned Parenthood could flow instead to anti-abortion groups that promote so-called natural family planning. Unless the courts halt the new policy, struggling women who need refills on their birth control pills could get federally funded lectures on the rhythm method instead.

Goldberg calls this a “move to turn a lifesaving women’s health program into pork for the religious right.” (She’s right on the money; that was also Pence’s motive for Indiana’s voucher program, which takes millions of dollars from the state’s public school system in order to prop up the religious schools that make up 95% of the institutions accepting vouchers.)

The assault on Planned Parenthood joins the successful effort to pack the federal courts–including the Supreme Court– with anti-choice judges, and it doesn’t bode well for the continued viability of Roe v. Wade.

Ironically, sending the legality of abortion back to the states, as a decision to overturn Roe would do, would fall into the “be careful what you wish for” category. Republicans have benefitted greatly from the one-issue voters they cynically created. Should Roe be overturned, the zealots in states that continue to allow abortions  would turn their attention to those legislatures, but those would mostly be deep blue states where they would be unlikely to prevail. Anti-choice activists in red states with compliant legislatures would mostly cease to be activists; they would consider their “job” accomplished.

The majority of Americans who support a woman’s right to make her own decisions about reproduction, however, would be highly likely to take their outrage to their polling places. Most of them have been complacent until now, assuming the courts would continue to protect women’s autonomy.

A “victory” for opponents of reproductive rights would be likely to do two things: tamp down the passions of the anti-choice warriors, and “activate” millions of Americans who would rightly see that victory as a theocratic threat. If survey research is to be believed, the latter group is much larger than the former.

Those people vote. And they sure  won’t be voting Republican.


  1. I find it hard to believed that Republicans would ever overturn Roe v Wade. It is the one sure issue for keeping the religious right voting for them. They know it. We know it. Too bad that the Catholics and Evangelicals, blinded as they are by fundamentalist thinking, cannot see it.

    Perhaps the solution to the de-funding of PP is for the women of this country to totally fund their life line to choice completely by themselves. Even on a fixed income I would help with that.

  2. The greatest crime is that one woman’s private dilemma became a national issue and was taken before SCOTUS and that all roads for millions of women since then lead to Rove vs. Wade. There is no way to count the number of lost lives, lost lives of girls and women at the hands of illegal abortionists in back-alley situations, or the future number of lost lives if this government continues to “have its way” with all women regarding birth control and health care. The “good old boys” of today still “have their way” with girls and women and “boys will be boys” is the Rule of Law here in Indiana thanks to Pence. And he is close to keeping his promise to take his RFRA even further at the federal level. And Trump’s accepted “grab them by the pussy” locker room talk makes a joke of all girl’s and women’s lives.

    Pence’s destruction of the Planned Parenthood system in southern Indiana resulted in an epidemic of HIV cases and drug addictions and overdoses. We have never seen an accounting of the number of cases of unwanted and/or life-threatening pregnancies, undiagnosed cancers, STDs and drug addictions due to the lack of test sites and treatment centers in Indiana which is duplicated in all red states. Thanks to Trump and Pence we are facing a new, 21st Century version of “The Killing Fields” if they continue to “have their way” with girls and women.

  3. I think it is high time that we women start demanding that men who are unable to pass a civics test that covers the Bill of Rights and our Constitution should be immediately castrated to ensure that they can never procreate.

    When it comes to men believing that they have the right to make decisions about women’s bodies we need to start fighting fire with fire. Can you imagine how demanding that men be castrated ‘for reasons that we decide’ might shut down a lot of screaming Pro-birthers?

    Okay, it’s just a dream, but I can think of many men I have met who’s fathers should have been castrated before they procreated. Let’s start with vp pence and his evangelical bedfellows.

  4. Theresa, I would also be willing to help! I am not as sanguine about repeal of Roe as you- this is the gang that can’t shoot straight. Long term thinking isn;t one of their strong suits.

  5. Jane M. OK Today I will try to contact someone at PP and see if a donation can be made to them that goes exclusively toward the operations of the clinics, and not to legal matters. That needs to first be made clear. I don’t mind donating for legal actions, but it would be nice to keep as many clinics open as possible as we move forward.
    I’ll report back tomorrow.

  6. Ladies, I’m not sure we need to go so far as castration, but we might consider outlawing the use of Viagra and other “treatments” for ED. There’s a Facebook meme that says, “Your inability to get an erection is as much the will of God as my pregnancy.” If the number of ads for these miracle treatments is an indication of how widespread the disorder is, we’ll soon see men demanding choice. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, or at least it should be.

  7. What is it about Republicans and sex? What is it about gender? What is it about Republicans and people thinking for themselves?

    Republicans have argued that liberals are intrusive by limiting soft drink sizes to reasonable. They say that is equivalent to them deciding for others the outcome of sex.

    It seems that it all has to do with entitlement. Certain Americans are entitled to government and others are not. Mostly the more white, Christian, heterosexual, wealthy, male and armed one is the more they deserve government to protect their way of life.

    What happened to “we” the people? What happened to progress? What happened to the American dream?

  8. Michelle’s observations are 100 percent correct. Neither male nor female legislators should have the right to tell women what to do with their bodies, and in this connection I am especially disturbed by Trump’s rule change which amounts to legislation sans a public stance and vote. If legislators even have the pretense of power to legislate on what women may do with their bodies, which I doubt, then they should at the very least be called upon to take the heat via their public vote one way or the other, and not sit idly by while a president legislates for them. I presume this rule change will be litigated and am hopeful judges will approach this invasion of women’s rights through the separation of powers lens and never reach the merits.

    If presidents can make law through such a rule-making process, then why have a Congress? Members of the House and Senate should just go home, ignore the Constitution,and make Trump’s dictatorship official.

  9. Read something recently about “we, the people” – that there is a subtle difference between interpretations…Libertarians and Conservatives read it as individual rights trump all. However, based on the Founder’s ideas of a Republic, that phrase means “the public” whose rights should be first in line…

  10. Viewing the posts on face book of the followers of President Agent Orange and Pastor Pence they have a few issues any one of which would prevent them from voting for an alternative, being pro-choice is one of those issues.

    The cult followers of President Agent Orange and Pastor Pence are not going to be swayed. President Agent Orange has conducted himself as con man and he is very comfortable conning the bible thumper’s. No matter how personally repellent President Agent Orange is, Pastor Pence takes the stance of the ends (theocracy) justifies the means.

  11. Republican white men continue to think they are the arbiters of truth and fact. They are not. Worse, religious Republican white men think they are the arbiters of women’s bodies and sexual behavior. They are not that either. They use their religion/churches to justify their insecurity as males. It’s been that way for millennia. Humans simply haven’t evolved that much with regard to their preoccupation with power and control over others. Thinking that this “thinking” can be regulated or legislated by Republican white men is a fool’s errand. According to George Lakoff’s Republican model in “Don’t Think of an Elephant”, these folks are imprisoned by their dogma. It’s one of the reasons they are considered conservative. They don’t believe in progress.

  12. seems pence is getting alot of attention from the media,maybe trumps problems are becoming a issue? change? before fallout?

  13. You are SOOOO going to want to read Garrison Keillor today. It’s the piece entitled “I’m Only Going to Say This Once,” and you’ll be glad you did. It’s not “The Writer’s Almanac” by Keillor, which I also love. This is just the guy from Lake Wobegon being himself. and click on ‘Writing’.

  14. Dear Ms. Kennedy I would really like you to answer my question. If the government can tell you that you cannot have an abortion, is the flip side of that coin that the government can tell you that you MUST get an abortion? The government of China did.

  15. Joseph Hannon: Yes. Government that has the power to determine how a woman uses her body can tell her she cannot abort or that she must.

  16. From a Catholic Family of 9 kids I was steeped in the sanctity of life ideal for years. Conception to me still means beginning of human life. That being said I think it’s egregious for politicians to make birth-control a wedge issue. They’re being as intrusive as the Church is in a personal matter. It’s a power grab, if they can control people at such a fundamental level, then they’ve really got them! The disrespect that these institutions are wielding needs to be curtailed! How about “Respect Life” including the life that’s already here!

  17. I started a standing monthly to PP when tRump got elected. The political side & the medical side are different. Check out PPINK (PP of IN & KY).

  18. I am with you Peggy!!!!!

    It just goes to show you that there seems to be gender bias in coverage of prescription drugs. Men, if unwilling to stop inflating their sexual ability and not adopt out-of-wedlock children with full lifetime support, should have no say in the choices women make regarding their bodies.
    And Planned Parenthood addresses so many other health concerns for low income men and women, while abortions are one of the lesser services their clinics perform.
    As I am older than many, I was “young” prior to Roe, and there was “no wall” which could stop pregnant women and girls from going to Mexico for abortions. There was also the fact of many deaths and botched operations occurring due to “back alley” abortions performed in the US.
    Do we go back to “back room illegal” clinics once again, or do we reach maturity and continue to allow women, and men, to have the choice and responsibility for their own decisions.
    I have often wondered if the anti-abortionists have adopted children born out of wedlock, or do they just spend their time picketing clinics which are secular, mostly non-judgemental, and which provide medical services for the less fortunate?

  19. I have never understood how scripture infers any government in the world has the power or is desirable as an arbiter of creed enforcement. A government with power to ban abortion is a government with power to require one. Instead of coercive assertion of your interpretation moral status by government. Why does one not persuade gently?Perhaps it is too obvious. There are many occasions when persuasion will fail.

  20. The GOP is pro-life until birth only. After that, infants, children, and adults are on their own.

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