The GOP And Its Inability To Grasp The Concept

Well, there’s a wide-open subject . . . but let’s narrow it, shall we, to
what the GOP doesn’t seem to understand about the financial efficacy, not to mention the moral necessity (something they seem not to consider) of providing health care to underserved women.

The following information comes from the current issue of Ms. Magazine, which I hadn’t read for probably 25 years. But I picked it up yesterday and found that virtually every article resonated with me — the cover story on the current, all-too-narrow legal definition of rape to the mass murders of poor women outside of Albuquerque, the role of women in the “Arab Spring” rebellions, to an interview with bell hooks (she doesn’t capitalize), a feminist scholar and poet who roundly and rightly condemns the rampant societal pornography represented by, say, Lady Gaga. I immediately bought a subscription, and no, I’m not worried that it’ll, like, “infect” me. I’m much more afraid the Religious Right will.

The House Republicans’ H.R. 1, its attempt in February to keep funding the government through the October fiscal year budget impasse, thankfully has no chance, at least not this side of Armageddon, of passing. It’s telling, though, in what it would accomplish. Or demolish.

It would defund Title X, which offers comprehensive contraceptive and preventive health-care services to low income women. It would gut more than 4,000 clinics serving women with birth control, HIV screens, Pap smears, and other women’s care; estimates indicate that every buck spent on providing contraception SAVES the country $4 in eventual expenses. The GOP insisted that Planned Parenthood, which operates fewer than one-sixth of those clinics, provides abortion as only 3 percent of its activity, and already currently cannot receive federal funds for abortions it provides, lose all federal funding — even though the services it provides, including for the Medicare-receiving elderly, save millions of dollars and many thousands of lives.

And because all bad things come in threes, the GOP also decided to cut off any federal funding for the international agency that performs NO abortions but offers reproductive health care to women in developing nations. Not even its irrational fear of “other” babies — Muslim, brown, etc. — could trump its even more irrational desire to demonstrate the proverb “penny-wise, pound-foolish” over the corpses of poor women.

Emboldened by testosterone, they continued, with H.R. 1, to try to stanch (stop! it’s “stanch,” not “staunch”!) federal funding for “Obamacare,” putting women at risk for non-coverage for doubtful “pre-existing” conditions. It set its sight on WIC, which even the Reagan administration approved, and cut $747 million from 2010 levels — this, from a program that enables poor women to obtain nutritional food for themselves and their children under the age of 5. Providing milk, vegetables, fruit, and healthy cereals for poor women and their kids is not nearly as affirming of “family values,” I realize, as killing Afghan and Iraqi women and children, but it seems as though it would be a tad easier to defend.

But I’m probably just ovulating and getting all hysterical because of it.

The reality that H.R. 1 is un-passable offers no comfort, because the GOP’s 2011 budget is hardly better. The Guttmacher Institute, which, admittedly, probably doesn’t have any CREC or Baptists on its board, estimates that the Republicans’ budget plan would result in the loss of contraceptive services — not abortion — to roughly one-quarter of women now receiving federally-funded birth control services. In the event that these women fail to continually keep an aspirin between their knees, particularly in patriarchal relationships or rape when they might have no say against a man’s desire to have sex, the Institute estimates that some 973,000 more unplanned pregnancies, ending in just over 400,000 more elective abortions and 433,000 unplanned births, totaling $3.4 BILLION in tax dollars spent on medical care for the women and their babies.

Isn’t birth control more fiscally prudent? Aren’t children who are planned more likely to be raised in a way that ultimately costs society less? Does our patriarchal natalism require that we discard the children of Women Not Like Us?

Hatred of abortion, not unlike hatred of communism in decades past, isn’t a bad thing. But reality has a way of intruding on ideology, and ideology too often responds with hysterical, mean-spirited, short-sighted and ultimately dangerous “solutions” that either perpetuate the original problem, or make the so-called solution infinitely worse than the initial problem. In the name of anti-Communism, men like Joe McCarthy ruined the lives of countless innocent men and women, degraded the Constitution, and, it turns out, did nothing to actually end Communism. Now, in the name of anti-abortion or “pro-life” activism, lawmakers and the churches that frolic with them demonize poor women, place their lives at risk, harm their children, and assume their deaths to be little more than collateral damage in the battle — or maybe just what they deserved for being poor, which, as some teach, is a moral condition caused by failure to observe Proverbs and its condemnation of laziness.

Poverty IS a moral condition, to be sure, and abortion IS a horror. The morality of poverty is far more defensibly placed on a sinful world and economic climate and the Christians who defend it and prosper from it. And a little perspective, please. No woman I know who’s had an abortion did so cavalierly, and many women had one that saved their lives. It is right to privilege the life of an adult woman — a wife, a mother, a daughter — over the life of a fetus. Likewise, no feminist I know wants an increase in abortions. They accept, as do I, that abortions will happen, and that it’s better to reduce the number and make them less necessary and more safe. And it’s definitely not good to enact legislation against first-trimester abortions illegal, making spontaneous miscarriage a potential crime requiring police investigation, or to have lawmakers or any other human being interfere in a doctor’s treatment of her or his patient. If we push women out of clinics that help them to prevent pregnancy, we bear a responsibility for helping them raise the children that result. If we push them out of safe or life-saving abortions, we lead them into a back alley and to the very likely loss of not just the unborn, but the desperate and already-born woman.

Of course, I’m mindful that that just might be the point the GOP is trying to make — women are expendable if they don’t follow the rules. The tricky thing here is that if we insist that “the rules” are the commands of Scripture, we need to figure out how to reconcile “the rules” from the Savior whose person and message is the entire reason we have them to follow.

Again, I want to acknowledge the Spring 2011 edition of Ms. Magazine for the information it provided.

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