Tag Archives | planned parenthood

Elizabeth Warren, Planned Parenthood, and Me…Redux

Six years ago, I wrote a post about Dr George Tiller, who was murdered by someone who called himself “pro-life.”

I’ll leave you a minute to savor the horrific ironies in that statement.

And now, six years later, it’s not only the body of a doctor that is on the line but all of Planned Parenthood, as the wackadoodles in the US Senate attempt to defund the entire organization.

Elizabeth Warren, bless her, gave a fiery speech on the Senate floor in which she asked the Republican Senators “Did you fall down, hit your head and think you woke up in the 1950s or the 1890s? Should we call for a doctor?”

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 10.57.23 PM

By this point, I have to say that those don’t seem like rhetorical questions. It seems as if yes, in fact, a large segment of this country is living–or would like to live– in some putative golden age when the only people in the United States with rights are white people who can’t get pregnant, ever.

Welcome to the age of Not Mattering. Non-white bodies don’t seem to matter that much; bodies of people who can get pregnant don’t seem to matter that much; bodies of anyone outside a very narrow demographic swath don’t seem to matter that much.

When my friends and I joined marches for reproductive rights decades ago–decades–we never imagined that now, well into middle age (dear god, how did we get to middle age?),  we would be fighting the same fight, helping our (much wanted) sons and daughters fight the same fight, wondering why on earth people are still so afraid of women controlling their own reproductive choices.

The marvelous Katha Pollitt writes “the whole society benefits when motherhood is voluntary,” and she’s right.

Six years ago, watching the vigil for Dr Tiller, I thought “surely things can’t get any worse.” And while for the Tiller family, that’s probably the truth, I’m wondering how much worse things are going to get for the rest of us.




My column about Dr. Tiller was collected in a volume edited by the marvelous Joanne Bamberger, called Mothers of Intention

Continue Reading · on August 6, 2015 in Children, family, Feminism, Gender, Kids, Parenting, Politics, ranting


so. vaginas.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “oh good lord, here comes a post about the idiot in Michigan …”

But this post is not that post. You can write that post in your head: just say “vaginavaginavaginavaginavagina” and then make a donation to Planned Parenthood or your friendly local women’s health clinic (although of course “local,” at this point, might mean anywhere in a three hundred mile radius) or to the Michigan legislator who thought it would be all right to talk like an adult in the company of other adults. Silly woman. She should have just talked about “her lady bits” and then everything would be fine.

No. I’m not writing that post. But I am thinking a lot about vaginas. Which is actually unusual for me, because although I own a vagina, I don’t really think about it that much.

I’m thinking about all the ways in which vaginas have been in the news lately – and that the impetuses (impetusii?) of these news stories are seldom, themselves, the owners of a hoochie.

The battle over Planned Parenthood funding? Started by non-vagina owning persons.

The constant fight to erode (or erase) access to safe, professional abortions? Championed by vagina-less people.

The endless iterations of mommy wars, which look on the surface to be all about vaginas? Fostered and publicized by vaginas absentas.

What is it about “down there” that causes vagina-less folk to want to police it, regulate it, tell it how to behave (and how not to)?

Is it that you can’t really see a vagina? Is it that most of it is all, you know, mysterious and tucked in, and thus needs constant vigilance lest it – what – run away? Have vagina owners, unbeknownst to me, been clamoring for help at the local sheriff’s office: “help! help! my vagina ran away and I can’t find it anywhere! she’s off somewhere, gambling away the rent money!”

I mean, is that what we’re dealing with?  Vagina-less people are so concerned about what an untrammeled vagina might do that they want to put up a veritable thicket of laws and policies to prevent vaginas from vagina-ing all about the town? Is the idea to create a sort of legislative chastity belt for vaginas?

What’s the worst thing that could happen, do you think, if vaginas were left alone, to sort of vagina around in their natural habitat? Would they breed wildly, out of control, like what happened when people stopped shooting deer in New Jersey and now you can’t even grow a goddamn tomato in the backyard without all the deer for forty miles doing the tomato happy dance and bam there go your hopes for a nice little red sauce?

Is that it? Are the vagina-less attempting to erect these pieces of vagina-repellent legislation to keep herds of vaginas away from the tomato gardens of privilege and power?

What would happen if all the vaginas got together? Would they have a vaginabellion? Are we talking hoochie biker gangs rampaging through the halls of power, terrorizing the non-vagina’ed?

Think about it. Have we ever seen what a vagina can do when she puts her mind to it? I’m thinking that after about Elizabeth I, the answer is pretty much…no. And of course Liz I kept her vagina firmly on the throne by claiming that her hoochie was virgin territory, which is not a game that the hoochies I know are willing to play.

Word on the street these days is that vaginas are getting really irritated by all this scratchy legislative underwear. And an aggravated hoochie makes Liz I look like June Cleaver.

If I were vagina-less, I’d be spending less time thinking about how to legislate that which I don’t have and start paying attention to what I do have, so that when the vaginalution comes, I don’t lose it all.

File:Elizabeth I (Armada Portrait).jpg

 image source



i’m linking up with all the people at yeah write – some vagina’d, some not – and you should probably go over there and visit. you never can tell what will happen on the grid: you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll maybe even get to look at some cartoons. click over to the challenge grid, and then the hangout grid, and then come back to the challenge grid and vote for your five faves.

read to be read at yeahwrite.me

Continue Reading · on June 25, 2012 in Feminism, Gender, health, Politics, ranting

Monday Listicles: Perry. Men.

This Monday’s listicle topic is chosen by Jen, over here at Just Jennifer. She wants people to write about reasons to have (or not have) children. Or if you have kids, to write about whether you do (or don’t) want any more.

Well. I have two boys. That’s the equivalent of a houseful of meerkats.  When I feel overwhelmed, I think about my next-door neighbor here, who has FIVE. Boys, not meerkats.  She’s the calmest human I know. My head could explode in flames while we’re in the elevator together and she would dump her water bottle on the fire, wrap a bandage around the worst injury, take my pulse, and feed me an aspirin before we reach our floor.

Let’s just say the baby-making factories are closed in my house. I would love to have a daughter—in fact, I always assumed I would have a daughter—but instead, boys. My sister has two daughters. I have considered swapsies, so we each could have a matched set, boy & girl, but for some reason she wants to raise her own kids.  Can you imagine? Selfish, selfish, selfish.

But this list offers me a chance to write on a marginally related topic: the problem with men named Perry. Or Peri, as the case may be.

Oh yes, you heard me. We’re talking about the fabulous Presidential Perry, Rick O’Texas, and that other Peri, Peri Men O’Paws.  Both are a nuisance, but only one will be gone (hope, pray) for sure in 2012.

Bad memories:
1. The governor of Texas would like to abolish several key Federal agencies. He just can’t remember which ones, exactly. Click here to watch him fumble. Hardest I’ve laughed in a week.

2. Peri Men O’Paws can’t remember when you’ve had your last period and doesn’t care. He just shows up, willy-nilly.


3. Rick O’Texas thinks abstinence is the only form of “sex ed” that should be taught in schools, even though statistics show that Texas (which mandates abstinence education) has the third-highest rate of teen pregnancies in the U.S.  Despite these statistics, however, he is sure that abstinence works.  Click here to be convinced.

4. Men O’Paws maintains an irregular schedule (known perhaps only to the moon) which makes abstinence frequently necessary, rarely convenient, and difficult to teach.

5. At public appearances, Texas Perry sometimes seems comatose, and then sometimes he’s aggressive (as when he crowded Ron Paul’s personal space during a September 2011 debate):

photo via AP on Huffington Post

Sometimes, though, O’Texas is just downright loopy, as he was during a campaign appearance in New Hampshire recently, when he told the audience bring their gold into his campaign manager.  Having a moody Texan with his thumb hovering over the nuclear button just can’t be a good thing.

6. Peri Men brings hormonal joyrides the likes of which I haven’t experienced since high school, when I regularly spent at least one day a month sobbing in my bedroom because the world was just TOO AWFUL.  Now those joyrides include snapping at my children, wishing Husband should take up residence on a houseboat in Lake Winnipesaukee (in the winter), loathing my late-mid-forties wrinkles, popping Advil as if they’re candy corn, and thinking that writing a blog is the stupidest goddamn thing I’ve ever done.

Bad hair:

7. Rick O’Texas has hair like a Ken doll. It manages to be both fluffy and immobile, just like Ken’s hair helmet.  I hope for his sake that Rick doesn’t smoke, because you just know that entire helmet is coated in flammable material.

8. Peri brings the gift of gray. Gray hair that refuses to play nicely with what’s left of the curly tresses from my youth.  The gray coils up out of my head like antenna, as if Peri is trying to talk to compatriots on the moon to make plans for pushing my body even further out of whack.

9. Texas Rick thinks that floods and other natural disasters are acts of God. Actually, he thought the British Petroleum explosion was an act of God, too. In other words, human actions ain’t got nothing to do with the environment and the science of climate change is “shaky.” His Texas agencies so deeply censored edited a scientific study of Galveston Bay that all the scientists who contributed to the study asked to have their names taken off the report.

10. Peri Men brings on floodwaters so profound that endless trips to the pharmacy are required for reinforcements against sartorial damage. And you don’t know what fun is until you’ve gone into a pharmacy filled with customers in abayas and headscarves, staffed only with men, and dumped your boxes of super tampons at the cash register where they practically scream out HELLO I AM A MENSTRUATING WOMAN AND PROBABLY UNCLEAN STAY AWAY.

11. O’Texas thinks that while abstinence is best for teen-agers, married folks should have babies galore. He wants to strip all funding from Planned Parenthood and promises to appoint only pro-life appointees to the Justice Department, the Attorney General’s Office, and the National Institutes of Health.  The fact abortions only count for about 3% of what Planned Parenthood actually does (as opposed to, say, things like blood-pressure screenings, cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, or prenatal care)—well, that’s just a pesky detail.

12. Peri O’Paws seems to be suggesting that this old late-mid-forties married lady will have to stop at two babies.  The married lady in question thinks that probably this is a good idea, as a third child would only complete the fund-stripping process begun by first two children and then render the mother incapable of remembering any details about anything.

There you have it folks, a point-by-point analysis of why Perrys are to be avoided. I can take comfort in knowing that by November of 2012, the entire GOP sideshow will be over, one way or another.  Unfortunately, however, Peri Men O’Paws doesn’t operate by any calendar that I can deduce.   But you know what? I’d still rather be governed by O’Paws than O’Texas.


hey…yes, double-dipping again. This post linked to Monday’s Listicles and now I’m linking up over at Lovelinks, where you will find lots of funny smart writers. You should read around on the lovelinks page and then come back Thursday (after your turkey or your lentil loaf or your baloney sandwich, whatever) and VOTE for your top three. Probably you, unlike Rick O’Texas, can remember three things.

Continue Reading · on November 21, 2011 in Children, environment, family, Feminism, Kids, Monday Listicle, Politics, ranting

Balancing the Federal Checkbook: Planes, yes; Plans, no.

There was a great chart in Sunday’s New York Times that listed the problems facing various Pentagon building projects: boats with aluminum superstructures that will burn like kleenex if they’re bombed; big ships that would be sitting ducks to flying attacks; the list goes on and on.  And the price tags? On this chart, which is far from exhaustive, the lowest price tag is $30 billion dollars. Billion, not million. (Notice me not saying anything about how most of these egregiously over-budget and under-thought projects were initiated during Dubya’s tenure. See? Not saying it.)

Should we even think–even dabble our toes for a minute in the water of “what if”–about what thirty billion dollars could do to the federal budget? The budget for the Head Start program, for example, is 8 billion dollars. And the Republicans want to trim $2 billion from that amount. One of the budget-cutting champions is Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, a state that’s really against federal funding, most of the time (but that’s a bridge we’ll cross later). Alaska’s Head Start program praised Murkowski a while back as a long-time supporter of Head Start. I guess Murkowski has changed her definition of “support” to mean something closer to “gut.”

And then today, in a report about the approaching budget stand-off in Congress, Representative Jim Jordon, a whippersnapper from Ohio who is going to snap that budget into shape yessiree, is quoted as saying that “we need to stop sending taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood and we need to defund Obamacare.”

Hmm. Planned Parenthood gets about $75 million from the federal government. In Pentagon terms, $75 million is not quite enough to buy a windshield for one airplane.

I’m not the first one to make this point, god knows, but it seems like a point worth repeating: why is it that the budget needs to be “balanced” on the backs of the poor? Eric Cantor, House Majority Leader, and one of the leaders in the “take no prisoners” school of budget cuts, makes an estimated salary of almost $200,000. In New York City, that’s almost four teacher salaries.

Now, it’s true, I’m an English professor by training and math is not my forte, god knows.  But even I know that if we’re dealing with a budget deficit of $1.4 trillion, trimming $75 million ain’t gonna get you much. A proverbial drop in the proverbial leaky bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza.  But what would cutting the Ballistic Missile Defense program get you?

$135 billion dollars. That, my friends, is some coin.

Congress just approved a three-week spending stopgap measure that sidesteps a government shutdown, but one of those Hard Right newbies in Congress, who congratulates himself on being “independent minded,” says that he can’t in good conscience approve a budget with monies in it for Planned Parenthood. He says his job is to “vote for America’s best interest” and “to protect America from bankruptcy.”

$75 million will bankrupt a budget but $135 billion won’t?

That’s the kind of addition that earned me a D in high school math.

Continue Reading · on March 15, 2011 in Education, NaBloPoMo, Politics

Even Stanley Was At the Rally

Remember the book Flat Stanley? About the kid who gets flattened when a bulletin board falls on him? He goes on adventures, traveling inside an envelope (which I imagine to be quite a bit like flying coach).

Elementary school teachers have taken Flat Stanley quite to heart and now kids make their own flat avatars and send them off to relatives in far-flung places for adventures (woe to the unsuspecting aunts and uncles who open their mail to discover that they’re now responsible for a four-inch high piece of cardboard).

Sometimes, however, the adventures are more local.  My friends Tom and Suzie (and their kids) showed Stanley life in the activist lane yesterday, at the Walk For Choice in Manhattan:

Stanley thinks that anyone who believes that stripping funding from Planned Parenthood will help the budget deficit must have had something heavy dropped on his head. And he should know.

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Continue Reading · on February 27, 2011 in Children, Feminism, Politics

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