On the website for Planned Parenthood's new action fund, the answer to "Why We're Watching" reads: "This past year, we have been witnessing the most aggressive legislative attacks on women’s health and rights in a generation." Year. It's been a year. I remember blogging about the beginnings of the right-wing attack on Planned Parenthood a year ago. I remember going to the rally that was the first response to those attacks a year ago. It seemed like (most) women were fighting too hard to let Republicans in Congress be successful in efforts to cripple women's access to reproductive health care a year ago. But this is still just as big of an issue, if not a bigger one, as it was a year ago.
Since I found out that Planned Parenthood launched "Women Are Watching"--which aims to educate women about the rights they have today, but may not have tomorrow unless they get involved politically--I think it really just hit me how serious the onslaught against women's rights is growing. Not to suggest that my view was something like, "it ain't no thang!" last February; I just don't think I imagined I'd be writing about the same injustices a year later.
A year ago, Vanessa at Feministing wrote, "It's time to fucking rally." It's still time. And it looks like it's not going to stop being time, until Republicans stop spending so much time undoing so much of the progress women have made.
PP's new action fund encourages women to work to elect pro-women's health candidates and fight back against politicians who are working tirelessly to rid women of their reproductive rights. Last February, it was the ability to have an elective abortion that was being threatened--a right we secured almost forty years ago. And we were outraged. Now, it's not just abortion; inconceivably, Republicans are currently working on passing "personhood" laws that would define life as beginning at conception, not birth. This would put birth control under the category of abortion, which they are continuing to try and outlaw. And while it's still not illegal, it's slowly becoming much less accessible and much more condemned.
Women have understood the necessity of birth control since the first birth control organization, the National Birth Control League, was founded in 1915 by followers of Margaret Sanger: five years before women were even granted the right to vote. That was almost 100 years ago. But the more politicians attempt to chip away at our rights, the less shocking it is--which is why "Women Are Watching" has arrived at a most opportune time.
"It's getting harder for Republicans to run on the economy issue. The stock market’s doing well, so they're shifting gears to social issues," said David Schultz, a political scientist professor at Hamline University. It's the nasty, manipulative side of politics that's driving this reversal of rights.
In a blog post for the Sexy Feminist, I quoted Gloria Steinem on Margaret Sanger a year ago:
“One can imagine Sanger’s response to the current anti-choice lobby and congressional leadership that opposes abortion, sex education in schools, and federally funded contraceptive programs that would make abortion less necessary…As in her day, the question seems to be less about what gets decided than who has the power to make the decision.”
Steinem wrote that in 1998. It was true then, it was true in Sanger's time, it was true last year, and it's especially true now. Somehow, people who will not be affected by the outcome of a war on Planned Parenthood and women's health are presently the ones calling the shots. So it's time for every woman who will (or potentially could be) affected to know that, and most importantly, react to it.