Pro-“life” activists are like cancer: they’re ubiquitous, often go undetected until their damage is irreversible, and heartbreakingly detrimental to women’s health.
Which is why it’s so mind-blowing that one of the country’s most powerful and well-known cancer charities has teamed up with pro-life activists to deny women lifesaving breast cancer screenings.
I would be irate if I wasn’t so used to this bullshit.
When news first broke that the Susan G Koman foundation yanked breast cancer screening funding from Planned Parenthood, people were dumbfounded. Huh/What/Why/How? What were they thinking? Why would they do that? How could anyone have a problem with Planned Parenthood providing breast cancer screenings? But to understand how something like this could happen, you have to understand the pro-life movement, which is at the heart of the split.
I’ve worked in the reproductive rights field for over ten years and I know more about pro-life activists than they know about themselves. I have spent hundreds of thousands of hours studying their materials, debating them, dodging their attacks, and, yes, secretly helping them get abortions and birth control behind their community’s back (it happens more than you think). I know a thing or two about the true motive of the anti-choice movement, and I promise you this:
It has absolutely nothing to do with saving babies or helping women. Nothing.
The core of the anti-choice movement’s mission is to maintain and increase the negative consequences of sex, mostly for women. Let me repeat that: they want sex to have as many repercussions as possible. Their main enemy isn’t abortion, it’s any type of sexuality that doesn’t conform to their impossibly narrow standards of acceptability (within the confines of heterosexual, Christian marriage, and only for the sake of procreation). It’s the fact that scientific advancements and increasingly progressive social policies have made it more difficult to control women’s sexuality through the fear of STDs, HIV, or unwanted pregnancies. They view those natural by-products of sex as punishments that sluts deserve for daring to feel entitled to sexual pleasure (like real human beings, with rights and everything!). They long for the days where the consequences of sex were totally unavoidable and used to oppress and constrain women, confine them to the home, keep them financially and socially dependent on men, enforce chastity and compliance to gender norms, and rob them of their sexuality, and therefore, humanity.
If pro-life activists really cared about public health and stopping abortion and saving the precious widdle babies, if they were truly pro-life, then they would support policies and scientific advancements that prevent abortion and, you know, actually save lives. They would promote the use of contraceptives, and fight to make them as cheap and accessible as possible. They would support evidence-based sex education that includes medically-accurate information on birth control and STD prevention. They would support the widespread distribution of condoms. They would support HIV/AIDS research. They would support the HPV vaccine, which guards against an STD that causes cancer. They would support financial assistance for women who cannot afford pre and postnatal care. They would support organizations like Planned Parenthood. But they don’t. They virulently oppose all of these things with a vicious, fiery passion because it’s not about the babies and it’s not about health - it’s about the sex and the women who have it. They hate sex more than they love mankind. They hate sex more than they care about stopping abortion. They are terrible, horrible, no good, very bad people with disturbingly uncalibrated moral compasses, and the Komen/Planned Parenthood breakup is just another typical, calculated step in their war on women.
So how did it all happen? Well obviously, for reasons detailed above, anti-choice activists despise Planned Parenthood, because it represents everything they oppose: it’s an organization dedicated to providing low-to-no cost reproductive health care and education which enables typically marginalized people to live sexually free and healthy lives. Eliminating Planned Parenthood is the main goal of the pro-life movement, and one of their primary tactics is to mercilessly terrorize any company, person, or organization who supports, helps, works for, or collaborates with Planned Parenthood. Enter Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Komen has been coordinating with Planned Parenthood to bring breast exams, cancer screening, and education and awareness to low-income women since 2005, and as long as this partnership has existed, anti-choice groups have been bullying Komen to sever it (though Komen enthusiastically defended its work with Planned Parenthood as recently as 2011). You would hope that even the most pro-life organization would support a Planned Parenthood/Komen partnership that does nothing but expand access to breast cancer screening for the most at-risk women, but that’s simply too logical and too compassionate for those spiteful little shits.
The truth is anti-choice organizations want to prevent Planned Parenthood from providing breast exams not only because they hate women, but because doing so removes a universally defensible and morally unambiguous service from Planned Parenthood’s list of other more controversial offerings, therefore helping to validate the asinine anti-choice lie that Planned Parenthood is all about Teh Abortionz. As it stands, abortion only accounts for THREE PERCENT of Planned Parenthood’s total services, and many Planned Parenthood medical centers (and some entire affiliates) don’t even offer abortion, but these people have never been big fans of the truth. Pro-lifers hate Planned Parenthood so much they want it to exclusively provide abortions, because that would make its detractors legitimate baby-saving angels, rather than hysterical shitstorms of crazy, anti-sex, anti-woman, anti-science tamponheads.
Basically, they hate Planned Parenthood more than they hate cancer. And they care about being a pain in Planned Parenthood’s ass more than saving people’s lives.
So what we have here is the very expected result of an extended, relentless, calculated attack on Komen and Planned Parenthood’s partnership, not to mention the infiltration of the organization’s upper-management by anti-choice activists and politicians. The split isn’t new or sudden: this is Komen finally caving to anti-choice bullies, some of whom actually hold influential positions on its senior staff and board.
(I’m also not entirely surprised about Komen’s decision because I’ve never considered them to be a shining example of responsible philanthropy to begin with. Considering that, even after years of frantic donation-seeking and walk-for-the-curing and pink-ribboning everything in sight, cancer rates have risen, only 24% of Komen funds actually go to research, they spend more than a million dollars in donor money each year suing small charities who use the phrase “For the Cure,” and frequently partner with companies who don’t exactly prioritize health, one has to wonder if Komen is more committed to their own pocketbooks than they are to actually stomping out breast cancer. And Komen’s CEO earns a salary that is nearly double that of the average oncologist. But I digress.)
Komen, of course, is denying what is almost offensively obvious to everyone else, claiming that Planned Parenthood’s funding elimination is merely the result of a recently adapted policy which prohibits administering grants to organizations that are under investigation by local, state, or federal authorities. And because Planned Parenthood is currently the victim of a baseless “Congressional inquiry” by Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), a conservative republican who’s being enthusiastically fellated by powerful anti-choice extremists, it’s now conveniently ineligible for Komen funds under this new protocol. However, Stearns’ investigation has been widely discredited as a wasteful, retaliatory, politically-motivated witch hunt inspired by yet another failed attempt at defunding Planned Parenthood earlier last year, and is expected to yield no evidence of wrongdoing. And it’s important to distinguish that this inquiry is not equivalent to a legal or criminal investigation - any Congressperson can up and launch such an investigation, no matter how unfounded their suspicions or dubious their motives may be.
One can hope that once Stearn’s inquiry is dismissed, funds to Planned Parenthood would be restored. But if Komen maintains this new policy, I expect they’ll continue to encounter the same roadblock. As we know all too well, the next political attack on Planned Parenthood is likely around the corner. Not because Planned Parenthood actually does anything that legitimately warrants these investigations, mind you, but because there is no shortage of politicians eager to waste taxpayer dollars by pandering to anti-choice terrorists and making a big, dick-swinging show out of waging a frivolous, ideological war against an organization that affords poor and underserved women the same ability to manage the consequences of sex that rich women have always had.
The silver lining in all of this, thin as it may be, is that hopefully people will grow more skeptical of “pinkwashing” and the Breast Cancer Industrial Complex, which folks have historically been frustratingly hesitant to scrutinize. This whole clusterfuck has also significantly increased awareness of Planned Parenthood’s lesser-known services, and maybe women will be reminded to stay on top of their breast health, whether they go to a Planned Parenthood medical center or not.
Final analysis: everyone involved in the removal of Planned Parenthood’s breast exam funding should be ashamed of yourselves. Anti-choice activists, we expect this from you. You have never cared about women’s health. In fact, you actively campaign against it. You’re ridiculous, Megratron2000 assholes, we’ve covered that, we know it, shut up and go home. But for a organization that claims their entire purpose is saving women’s lives to not only side with such decidedly anti-women, anti-life forces, but actually yank critical services from the hands of the most vulnerable women in America is abhorrent. Susan G. Komen for the
CurePolitically Motivated Witholding of Funds for Lifesaving Breast Exams, you thought this was a minor, defensible decision that would fly under the radar without much of a sniffle. You thought you’d get a nice pat on the back from anti-choice organizations and maybe a few more donations, and nobody else would really care. But you’re already finding out how devastatingly wrong you were.
Because here’s the bottom line:
When you fuck with Planned Parenthood, you fuck with a passionate and dedicated and MASSIVE family. You fuck with the 1 in 4 American women who have depended on Planned Parenthood for medical care in their lifetime. You fuck with the five million women, men, and teens who receive healthcare and education from 800 Planned Parenthood medical centers every year. You fuck with the doctors, nurses, sex educators, cancer educators, nutrition counselors, midwives, teen advocates, patients, donors, supporters, politicians, activists, clinic escorts, and volunteers who work for, go to, and defend Planned Parenthood, and know exactly how critical and amazing it is.
When you fuck with Planned Parenthood, you fuck with all of us.
And you’ve made a huge mistake.
As an OB/GYN who delivered over 4,000 babies, Ron Paul knows firsthand how precious, fragile, and in need of protection life is.
Dr. Paul’s experience in science and medicine only reinforced his belief that life begins at conception, and he believes it would be inconsistent for him to champion personal liberty and a free society if he didn’t also advocate respecting the God-given right to life—for those born and unborn.
After being forced to witness an abortion being performed during his time in medical school, he knew from that moment on that his practice would focus on protecting life. And during his years in medicine, never once did he find an abortion necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman.
As a physician, Ron Paul consistently put his beliefs into practice and saved lives by helping women seek options other than abortion, including adoption. And as President, Ron Paul will continue to fight for the same pro-life solutions he has upheld in Congress, including:
* Immediately saving lives by effectively repealing Roe v. Wade and preventing activist judges from interfering with state decisions on life by removing abortion from federal court jurisdiction through legislation modeled after his “We the People Act.”
* Defining life as beginning at conception by passing a “Sanctity of Life Act.”
Because he agrees with Thomas Jefferson that it is “sinful and tyrannical” to “compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors,” Ron Paul will also protect the American people’s freedom of conscience by working to prohibit taxpayer funds from being used for abortions, Planned Parenthood, or any other so-called “family planning” program.
The strength of love for liberty in our society can be judged by how we treat the most innocent among us. It’s time to elect a President with the courage and conviction to stand up for every American’s right to life.
* Yeah, too bad repealing Roe v Wade won’t really save lives, and actually destroy more.
* Yeah, too bad defining life as beginning at conception will create a whole slew of human rights problems/violations.
* Yeah, too bad taxpayer funds are already barred from being used for abortions, how is this even still a thing? The Hyde Amendment is pretty much common knowledge for anyone even dipping their toes into the abortion debate and yet they still peddle this whole “no taxpayer funded abortions!” bullshit. How is it people can be so infuriated by the thought of their tax dollars going towards “killing babies” here in the states but a-okay with their tax dollars being used to kill actual babies as well as children and adults in our wars? Why is it Ron Paul only wants people to be able to pull their tax dollars from contributing to family planning? Is he going to give this option for everything people don’t agree with? Will I be able to opt out of funding American wars? Will I be able to choose to put all my tax dollars into family planning if I want? If not, why not? Oh my god, the irony here is about to blow my brain out of my skull.
Whereas, I had a safe, legal abortion in 1981, a simple D&C to remove what I considered to be a benign cyst — no fuss no muss, back to work the next day. It was the smartest choice I ever made as I was much too young (and broke) to be saddled with a child. I rarely think about it and when I do, I’m grateful it was so easy and painless.
I am of an age now where I will never have to make that choice again, but I am all in with the fight so that young women do not have to endure the attrocities listed below, just because Christian Dominionists like Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Teahadist legislators believe it’s Constitutional to inflict their stone age religious beliefs on American women.
I’ve written about the methods of legal abortion: procedures performed by licensed medical professionals in a clean, sterile environment, with clean, sterile tools. But what about illegal abortions?
Those who push for more restrictions on abortion access - really, those who push for abortion to be made illegal - seem unwilling to acknowledge the disastrous alternatives. Many who are anti-choice have no memories of what life was like before Roe v. Wade in 1973. We know abortion rates stay fairly steady, regardless of legality. How are these illegal abortions procured? What options are there for those without the money or connections to a discrete physician?
To answer these questions, I’ve compiled a list of methods of illegal, or “back-alley” abortions.
Waldo L. Fielding, M.D. wrote an article for the New York Times in 2008, describing what he saw while working as a gynecologist in New York City from 1948 to 1953.
The familiar symbol of illegal abortion is the infamous “coat hanger” — which may be the symbol, but is in no way a myth. In my years in New York, several women arrived with a hanger still in place. Whoever put it in — perhaps the patient herself — found it trapped in the cervix and could not remove it.
Almost any implement you can imagine had been and was used to start an abortion — darning needles, crochet hooks, cut-glass salt shakers, soda bottles, sometimes intact, sometimes with the top broken off.
Another method that I did not encounter, but heard about from colleagues in other hospitals, was a soap solution forced through the cervical canal with a syringe. This could cause almost immediate death if a bubble in the solution entered a blood vessel and was transported to the heart.
The worst case I saw, and one I hope no one else will ever have to face, was that of a nurse who was admitted with what looked like a partly delivered umbilical cord. Yet as soon as we examined her, we realized that what we thought was the cord was in fact part of her intestine, which had been hooked and torn by whatever implement had been used in the abortion. It took six hours of surgery to remove the infected uterus and ovaries and repair the part of the bowel that was still functional.
A case report from 1911 describes a self-induced abortion using a knitting needle.
In the afternoon the day before her admission she had attempted to pass into the uterus a bone knitting needle…During the attempt the needle broke off short, leaving about half of it inside her body…During the next four days the temperature gradually rose, until on the fifth day after admission it was 102.2 F, and the pulse rate 100. On the evening of this day uterine hemorrhage occurred…and at 6:30 next morning the patient aborted, a fetus some 4 in. in length…The needle had just missed the right border of the rectum, the wall of the bowel being slightly torn superficially…
A case study from 1972 goes into greater detail about the use of a soap solution.
A case report from 1964 describes a woman’s attempt to self-abort with turpentine.
Believing herself to be pregnant she had, on the afternoon preceding admission, injected into her uterus the contents of a rectal syringe filled with turpentine and water. Immediately thereafter, she experienced a sharp burning sensation which “went all through me up to my chest.” This was followed by a convulsive seizure. Two hours later she began to have paroxysms of coughing productive of a bloody sputum.
A case history from 1961 describes two women’s attempts to self-abort with Lysol. One woman survived. The other did not.
The second patient was a 26-year-old French Canadian woman, married, but separated from her husband. She was…3 1/2 months pregnant. She had used a vaginal douche of concentrated Lysol solution 25 hours before admission…On examination there was erythema of the thighs and vulva. Pieces of placental tissue were passed but the abortion remained incomplete. The day after admission renal shut-down became apparent…A full-blown picture of lower nephron nephrosis [acute renal failure] developed rapidly in this case…The patient’s condition deteriorated rapidly and she died on the sixth day in acute pulmonary edema [fluid in the lungs].
Those who got them done by others didn’t fare much better (PDF). (1964)
…this 21-year-old single girl…went to an abortionist who inserted a catheter and wire into her cervix. The wire was removed after four days when chills, fever, crampy lower abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting developed. Symptoms persisted until she came to the emergency ward with a temperature of 103 F (39.4 C) and a shaking chill…Her abdomen was rigid, with diffuse tenderness and absence of bowel sounds. There was tenderness, also, on pelvic and rectal palpation, the uterus was enlarged with necrotic [dead] tissue extruding from the cervix…She was discharged to her home after 17 days, only to return 10 days later with a temperature of 105 F (40.6 C)…Two days later…a laporotomy was done…and total hysterectomy [removal of the uterus]…She was…sterile at the age of 21.
…this 25-year-old married woman was given a soap-and-bleach douche by an abortionist. Following the douche, fever and chills developed with vaginal bleeding and crampy lower abdominal pain. On admission she had a temperature of 103 F (39.4 C), which rose to 106 F (41.4 C)…an emergency hysterectomy was done, following which she had a cardiac arrest. She was resuscitated, but arrested a second time and did not respond to resuscitation.
Some women attempted to induce miscarriage by drinking poisons such as aloe, ergot of rye, savin oil(derived from a juniper plant), teas made from tansy, pennyroyal, rue, and nightshade, high doses of vitamin C, and other natural “remedies.”
The first time I started to think about abortion was in 1960, when I was in second year medical school. I was assigned the case of a young woman who had died of a septic abortion. She had aborted herself using slippery elm bark…The young woman in our case developed an overwhelming infection. At autopsy she had multiple abscesses throughout her body, in her brain, lungs, liver and abdomen.
I have never forgotten that case.
I will never forget the 17-year-old girl lying on a stretcher with 6 feet of small bowel protruding from her vagina. She survived.
I will never forget the jaundiced woman in liver and kidney failure, in septic shock, with very severe anemia, whose life we were unable to save.
Some women were also told that they could induce miscarriage by undergoing physical stress, such as vigorous exercise, jumping off tables, bellyflopping onto a hard surface, receiving punches, kicks or other blows to their stomachs, or throwing themselves down the stairs.
None of these methods were guaranteed to work. Women would be left injured, ill, sterile, or dead.
Was that hard to read? It should be. That was the reality of pre-Roe America, and for some, it is still their reality. Those who can’t afford abortions, can’t get to clinics, or can’t tell anyone about their situation, turn to these methods, and worse. In countries where abortion is illegal, this is what people are offered.
Lysol, carbonic acid, coat hangers, stairs, and fists are not surgical instruments. Back alleys, kitchens, and motel rooms are not operating rooms.
Regardless of your opinion on abortion, this is what happens when abortion is no longer available. Keeping abortion legal is the only moral option.
This made me cry; I never realized how real it was until I read this. Every time I try and explain to people why abortion isn’t bad, they just don’t understand. And what makes me angry is when they say the women should die for killing a ‘baby’. Seriously.