The War On Women

Earlier this month, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a Planned Parenthood request to delay implementation of a new Trump administration rule forbidding Title X recipients from making abortion referrals. The ruling allowed the policy to take effect while lawsuits from states, medical groups and reproductive rights advocates continue.

The following Monday, Planned Parenthood exited Title X, forfeiting millions of dollars in federal grants. Planned Parenthood serves nearly half of the approximately 4 million low-income women covered by Title X, providing free and subsidized birth control, STD  and breast cancer screenings and other health services.

There has rarely been a better illustration of why “pro life” people are anything but pro-life.

Numerous observers have pointed to the disconnect between the movement’s obsessive concern for zygotes and fetuses, on the one hand, and its utter lack of interest in the health and welfare of poor children who are already born on the other. Others have noted that activists’ zealous efforts to ban abortion aren’t accompanied by even tepid efforts to ban assault weapons. But this attack on the health of over two million poor women is an even more compelling example of the movement’s deep hypocrisy.

In order to impose a gag order on medical personnel working at family planning clinics–in order to ensure that they don’t utter the word “abortion” or tell women where they might obtain one–these “pro-lifers” are perfectly willing to deny women access to lifesaving breast cancer screenings, STD treatments and other medical services totally unconnected to abortion.

In addition, it’s hard not to notice that the “pro life” movement has moved beyond its purported emphasis on preventing abortion to an all-out effort to limit access to birth control. (Logic tells us that increased access to birth control reduces the incidence of abortion. If reducing the number of abortions was really the focus of “pro-life” efforts, you would expect these activists to be dispensing birth control pills on street corners.)

To be fair, there are undoubtedly some among these single-issue zealots who genuinely believe that a fertilized egg is equivalent to a human being, and that the rights of that fertilized egg take precedence over the rights of the human woman who carries it. I have trouble with that viewpoint, but some people–for whatever reason–really do hold it, and they are obviously entitled to do so.

However, it has become abundantly clear that a far greater percentage of those who label themselves “pro life” are actually “anti choice.” These are people (mostly men, but some women) who would deny women the personal autonomy that men in our society have always enjoyed. They fear the loss of “traditional values,” by which they mean the continued dominance of White Christian males.  If a few thousand women need to die from an undetected cancer in order to preserve their privileged status, they consider that a perfectly reasonable tradeoff.

I still recall a conversation with a partner in the law firm I joined immediately after graduation from law school. I was the first woman hired by that firm–which had over 50 lawyers at the time. The partner attributed the growing number of female law students to the (then-relatively-new) birth control pill; thanks to that pill, women were no longer hostages to reproduction. They could plan their pregnancies. Consequently, they were better able to enter and thrive in the workforce, and less dependent upon a man to support them and their (often-unplanned) children.

Both he and I thought that was a good thing.

Obviously, there are a lot of people who disagree, and who find a woman’s ability to control her own reproduction existentially threatening. If denying them access to healthcare is the only way to prevent women from exercising autonomy and controlling their own destinies, they’re more than willing to make that trade.

You can call such people many things, but “pro-life” isn’t one of them.


  1. As oft repeated by liberated women during the late 70s and early 80s the phrase “You take their money, you take their shit” seems to still apply. The current young generation of women needs to learn that truism and join all efforts to make up that deficit at PP.

  2. THE DEBATE OF THE CENTURY could be between President Trump and Senator Elizabeth Warren on this pivotal issue for 2020. It will turn the election and national narrative. There will be more Sheila’s prosecuting the case in every city and state. You can count this straight white male as one of many wing men.

  3. The function of Planned Parenthood Clinics is to provide safe health care in many forms of testing, treatment and affordable medication for low income – men and women. It does no good to continue repeating that the abortion service is approximately 3% of its service and that the PATIENT pays for the surgery prior to receiving it. Patients are counseled regarding options and other assistance; not just rushed to the operating table. The current government funding cuts to PP has caused deaths due to opioid and HIV epidemics in the southern part of the state of Indiana…a totally and staunchly Republican state. You can thank Rev. Pence for that epidemic. Their harm is effecting men as well as women and Republicans as well as Democrats. Why is their goal, which they consider a “win” by cutting funds to this one organization; when there are other medical service organizations for women only which provide abortions (also paid for by the patient) and the hospitals which provide this surgery?

    Is “The War On Women” simply old white men wielding their power in an attempt to keep us “barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen” to prevent competition in the workplace and boost their masculine egos? Is this also part of the movement of too many men supporting the issue that women do not need higher education.

    “…the growing number of female law students to the (then-relatively-new) birth control pill; thanks to that pill, women were no longer hostages to reproduction. They could plan their pregnancies. Consequently, they were better able to enter and thrive in the workforce, and less dependent upon a man to support them and their (often-unplanned) children.”

    They are not only NOT pro-life; they are also NOT pro-better-life for all concerned.

  4. Ironically, those same people who don’t want PP to tell women where they might go to get an abortion, want laws guaranteeing “religious” freedom not to offer services to women who seek things like birth control. It seems only certain people can have freedom in their America.

  5. I will repeat the concern in my comment on yesterday’s blog.

    Trump’s campaign managers will most likely make abortion a huge issue next year. He could win with just this one issue. Very frightening.

  6. Let’s not forget the hypocritical members of Congress who have been some of the loudest “Pro-lifers” as they paid for abortions for their mistresses.

    I have no doubt that Congressional members and Catholic and Evangelical church leadership religious leaders are still keeping mistresses on the side and arranging and paying for abortions in secret.

  7. This is more than just a “war on women”. This is the continuing Republican initiative attacking the poor. They’ve been doing this since the 19th century. Since Planned Parenthood uses about 92% of their services for women’s overall reproductive health, picking the abortion issue is basically bullshit for political purposes.

    I have a relative (GAH!) in Texas who voted for Trump for the strict reason of him appointing anti-abortion justices and judges. Now, she regrets her vote because of the horror show accompanying Trump’s every day. It will be, as it currently is, an astonishing issue that may determine which way our country goes in the future. I say astonishing, because the actual number of women being denied a legal abortion is a tiny sliver of the population. Moreover, these backward-thinking Republicans tell these same women they must have their babies and then deny them the necessary means to support it.

    This is beyond hypocrisy. It’s criminal.

  8. Now is the perfect time to make a donation to Planned Parenthood in honor of Donald Trump and Mike Pence, or any of these other zealots you’re referring to. Given last week’s move, Planned Parenthood is going to have to be aggressive with fundraising to make up for what they’re losing. That’s not even counting all the legal fees it’s going to take to challenge things.

  9. The current generation of young women need to learn more than the truism referred to by Theresa Bowers. (Thank you for that, Theresa.) Young women also need to learn some history (and some older women need a refresher course) regarding rights that women have so recently acquired. As Ms. Kennedy implies, the birth control pill is a relatively recent development, the first being approved by the FDA in 1960. Women also need to be aware that is was as recently as 1965 that the Supreme Court established the right of married couples to use contraception. And it wasn’t until 1972 that the Supreme Court ruled that unmarried couples could use birth control. And just as the Supreme Court can reverse Roe vs Wade, they can also reverse the ruling that allows women to use birth control pills. I think young women also forget that it was virtually impossible for a single woman to get a credit card before 1974. Not to mention the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution ensuring women’s right to vote was not ratified until 1920–less than 100 years ago. I think that there are a lot of people who would like to see these and other rights of women removed.

  10. I will say this as many times as it needs to be said: a government that can force a woman to keep a pregnancy can also force her to end one. If the short-fingered vulgarian and his toady Pence get re-elected, I would not be surprised, and would almost expect, a zero-birth policy for immigrants, engineered by that sniveling little Nazi Stephen Miller and blessed by the vulgarian. And you can bet that no small number of the raging anti-choice faction will go right there with him on that policy.

    If you oppose abortion, work to eliminate the need for a woman to consider it by expanding access to contraceptives and education on birth control, and not just for women.

  11. I have commented on this before, more than once; my granddaughter suddenly developed a seizure problem at age 19, the type seizures which could be fatal. She became pregnant at age 24 and opted to try to carry her baby to term knowing it further endangered her life. She died at 5 months pregnant having seizures; of course her baby daughter died with her. This was her choice but, as I have said before, those who are forced to continue a pregnancy which endangers their life who have died, are just as dead as my granddaughter and their babies are just as dead as my great-granddaughter. What have the pro-lifers accomplished with these young women? We will never see those statistics; here in Indiana we have Rev. Pence’s anti-abortion laws in effect and we will not see the statistics regarding those who may have died from a botched abortion or were injured severely and will never have the babies they do want to give birth to.

  12. Why aren’t we talking about what happens to the children of women are forced to be mothers? It will be very difficult to look at, but child abuse at the hands of parents should have a place in this discussion. The law that forces a woman to give birth does not also make that woman a nurturing mother. We need to get this on the table for all of the pro-lifers who assume a happily-ever-after outcome beyond giving birth. Bring out the statistics (and maybe the photographs) of injury and death of children by parents who aren’t equipped to cope with parenthood. Our society needs to represent them as much, if not more, than the unborn. What kind of “life” is it when a child cannot trust that he/she will be safe in the hands of his/her parent? We need to go there . . . to this ugly, scary, devastating place where far too many children reside by default with mothers who never wanted to be a parent. Will someone please ask Elizabeth Warren to include this in her talking points?

  13. Four million women.

    “She was always just a woman in pain, sitting right in front of you. Sometimes a person needs help because she needs it, not because her story is compelling or noble or strange enough to earn it, and sometime you just do what you can. It doesn’t make you better or worse. It doesn’t change you at all, except for that split second you imagine the day when you will be the one who has to ask for it.”

    Leslie Jamison in “Layover Story”

  14. With all that is transpiring in our day and age, I keep asking myself a question: WHY? Why is it that Women haven’t risen in voice? In positions of power – or CREATED positions of power? They have a lot more power than they think – I mean who does most of the organizational work in this world? Think about that. Hell I don’t mind a Woman in charge as long as it is equitable for all and she knows what she is doing!… no problem. And it isn’t based on ‘looks’ – it is based on humanity and co-equal respect.

  15. title 10 the next adventure into sharia law,via our white,,house….to whore the evangelical vote,you must submit. carry on great christians!! as i fleese your pockets!
    Fargo,North Dakota is our only women clinic. funny how the rightious will condem on the streets for all to see,as women with personal needs have to pay the brunt of thier crusade to show the world,how we would rule it,,, get a life,theres people in town who are hungry and live on shit wages,maybe a hand there would generate a greater outcome…

  16. I keep asking myself, “Why haven’t the Bambis of the forest risen up with voice against their oppressors with AK 10s?”

  17. Pro lifers would add dead mothers to aborted fetuses, and there will be many more mothers die with the increased exposure to pregnancy if their no birth control view becomes black letter law or a contorted regulation ostensibly based on present law. It’s back to the back alley, coat hangers and Grand pianos in this 21st century. Result? Peritonitis, death to mother and child, and in increasing numbers. That’s pro life – or pro death?

  18. While the nuances are infinite the grounds are very basic. It’s our government by means of our power to hire and fire those who govern based on how well we think that they enhance our collective lives. That’s what our freedom stems from way more than the rights we talk about endlessly.

    2016 was an anomaly based on a rigged election that benefitted the few at the expense of the many in so many ways. It’s bullshit based on the ability to buy minds by funding advertising/fake news/propaganda/brainwashing people over entertainment media taking advantage of the people who are both/either civically and/or scientifically illiterate.

    While four years of this crime spree are only unaffordable more could lead to the end of liberal democracy’s great experiment and experience for ever.

    It really is now or never.

    These basic grounds are all that are needed to vote next year and will only be successful if we unite behind them instead of the divisive trivia that those who profit from the current dysfunction sponsor to finish their harvesting of America.

  19. It is the Male Authoritarians that are determined to keep woman in their place. There is the culture – Neo-Confederates, plus reinforcement from the Evangelical bible thumper’s and the Catholic church. Woman are second class within these institutions and they accept it.

    This Male Authoritarian Model would discourage and forbid any critical thinking. Thus, what the kiddies are exposed to, must be controlled. They can learn to read, write and preform math problems. Beyond that lies danger, exposure to philosophy which questions existence, or Science that contradicts the “holy books” is a hazardous territory which must be avoided.

    Once the bible thumper’s force a woman to have a baby, they could care less about the quality of life. Here the prosperity gospel comes to the bible thumper’s rescue. If someone is poor, it must be they are living sin.

  20. Thank you Sheila, and others who support equal choice for women and men. Also for supporting alleviation of the often singular burden hoisted upon the shoulders, bodies, and lives of women for pregnancies; conceptions which required male produced sperm, often donated without the woman’s consent.

  21. As a man, I don’t think I should even have a say in women’s reproductive rights. But, from my point of view, the pro-life movement should really be called the “forced to birth” movement. It seems like there is no support for the children that might be born, and a total hostility for supporting any birth control. It does not make sense to me.

    I think if you are really part of the pro-life movement, you should be ardently lobbying for federal regulations that make ALL healthcare plans provide no cost contraceptives measures for women AND men.

  22. Anti-abortion activists are not pro-life for anyone but fetuses. They are only pro-life until birth. After that, babies and other human beings (especially women) are on their own.

  23. Although I have known some sincere anti-abortion people, including an otherwise very liberal, Catholic woman (that was the ’70s), what saddens me is the total oblivion of the women’s movement, liberals in general, and the Democrats.

    Ever since Roe v. Wade (maybe going back to Griswold v. Connecticut) there has been a strong backlash. The anti-choice people have steadily attacked these decisions in any and every way that they could. The rest of us lived in the blissful belief that the battle was won and the war was over. Balderdash. We (Democrats, liberals, women) should have understood the importance of our courts in protecting these hard-fought rights. Courts took a back seat. When Obama was elected, he should have slammed through appointments while there was sort of a majority. Once McConnell was in, Obama should have stuck it to Kentucky until McConnell quit his obstruction and gone on the air frequently accusing McConnell taking money while not doing his job and violating his oath of office.

    The votes of pro-choice people who voted for Republican Presidents over these past 40 years has come home to roost. These Republicans all wanted to roll back if not outright repeal Roe and it could happen now. Trump will continue the damage, but the courts will be the ones to finish the job.

    I am fairly confident that, abortion and immigration not withstanding, Trump will be gone. I only hope that the Democrats take the Senate and find the backbone to re-stack the courts. A quasi-legal and highly immoral team of McConnell and Trump have distorted the courts, even adding completely unqualified people. The new Democratic administration has to understand this and not pretend that these are normal times and go back to the old ways. The Republicans have stacked the courts in a low-visibility mode, but stacking they have done. I hope the pro-choice voters begin to recognize this.

  24. There is no war on women.
    Abortion has NOTHING to do with health “care” for anyone.
    A woman has the right to reproduce , but NEVER end the life that chose her to be born through.
    If a woman has the right to end a life than that right should be extended to all males as well, and as Dave Chappell said , ” No child support from the male if he so desires.
    It seems as though the age of Aquarius is an age of everyone wanting to be persecuted.
    WHY do people ENJOY and desire to be persecuted ?
    Because it makes them more – HOLY.

    Remember the 11th Commandment – ” Thou Shalt Not Snivel.”

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