You may have heard that yesterday, the House of Representatives voted 240-184 to cut funding to Planned Parenthood, on the argument that taxpayer money shouldn't pay for abortions (the Hyde Amendment put a stop to that in the mid 1970s), but on the conviction that taxpayer money should not go to organizations that provide abortion services, regardless of what else they might do.
This would mean the end of federal support for an organization that each year provides more than 800,000 women with breast exams, more than 4 million Americans with testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, and 2.5 million people with contraception - which, in case you, like Rep. Mike Pence, the Indiana Republican who sponsored the bill, failed Reproduction 101 - is the stuff that prevents unintended pregnancy, and thus abortion, to begin with.
I know. I know. The bill will most likely stall in the Senate and, if it does find its way to Obama's desk, will never be signed into law. In that way, the vote is "symbolic" - much like the like the repeal of the Health Care Reform Act which they also passed a few weeks ago. Or, the reading of the ENTIRE Constitution of the United States which they read on the opening day of Congress.
Still, I'm outraged. And, angry.
Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican had taken to the floor to read aloud a description of a second-trimester abortion procedure he'd found in a book. You might remember that Smith is the "genius" behind another bill that would limit federal funding only for abortions that were the result of "forcible rape", leading one to ask for a definition of "non-forcible rape".
But, I digress.
In response, Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier of California described a second-trimester abortion procedure she'd had in her life. Speier told of a procedure she'd had at 17 weeks pregnant, when something went wrong with her pregnancy. "For you to stand on this floor and suggest that somehow this is a procedure that is either welcomed or done cavalierly or done without any thought, is preposterous," Speier said, directing her comments at Smith.
She also said, "The last time I checked, abortions were legal in this country ... I would suggest to you that it would serve us all very well if we moved on with this process and started focusing on creating jobs for the Americans who desperately want them."
Here is Rep. Speier's full statement
Well, I suggest to you that the present majority of the House can't get off the dime, as it were, and work on creating new jobs or work on reducing the deficit because they are weighed down by the "new old misogyny".
Make no mistake. This is an ancient evil. It's been around since The Garden. Indeed, I believe it to be the Original Sin. And, guess what?
If you had any doubt in your mind, MoveOn.Org has provided a list they call "Top 10 Shocking Attacks from the GOP's War on Women", which includes:
1) Republicans not only want to reduce women's access to abortion care, they're actually trying to redefine rape ("forcible" vs. "non-forcible"). After a major backlash, they promised to stop. But they haven't yet. Shocker.Did I mention that I'm outraged? And, angry. Yes, well then you'll excuse me if I don't think it's hyperbole to say that this legislative agenda is prima facia evidence of the 'forcible rape' of justice for women.
2) A state legislator in Georgia wants to change the legal term for victims of rape, stalking, and domestic violence to "accuser." But victims of other less gendered crimes, like burglary, would remain "victims."
3) In South Dakota, Republicans proposed a bill that could make it legal to murder a doctor who provides abortion care. (Yep, for real.)
4) Republicans want to cut nearly a billion dollars of food and other aid to low-income pregnant women, mothers, babies, and kids.
5) In Congress, Republicans have a bill that would let hospitals allow a woman to die rather than perform an abortion necessary to save her life.
6) Maryland Republicans ended all county money for a low-income kids' preschool program. Why? No need, they said. Women should really be home with the kids, not out working.
7) And at the federal level, Republicans want to cut that same program, Head Start, by $1 billion. That means over 200,000 kids could lose their spots in preschool.
8) Two-thirds of the elderly poor are women, and Republicans are taking aim at them too. A spending bill would cut funding for employment services, meals, and housing for senior citizens.
9) Congress just voted for a Republican amendment to cut all federal funding from Planned Parenthood health centers, one of the most trusted providers of basic health care and family planning in our country.
10) And if that wasn't enough, Republicans are pushing to eliminate all funds for the only federal family planning program. (For humans. But Republican Dan Burton has a bill to provide contraception for wild horses. You can't make this stuff up).
Are you feeling outraged yet? How about some good old fashioned anger? Yes?
Here's one thing you can do. Head over to MoveOn.org and sign their petition. You'll find it here.
That's one step. It's a first and it's important. But, there's more.
You can call and/or write your Representative and Senator. Personally. Let them know what you think. You voted for them - or not. Either way, let them know that they represent you, too. And, your voice - and your vote - matters.
Me? I'm thinking we need a Million Woman March on Washington. It would be an opportunity for women to show the boys and girls in The House that we know. We see. And, we expect them to "respect the dignity of every human being" - and that includes women.
I also know that anger, turned inward, leads to depression. And depression can lead to complacency. And complacency allows injustice to flourish.
Anger can also be healthy. Indeed, there is biblical precedence for holy, righteous indignation. As Abraham Heschel once said, “Patience, a quality of holiness, may be sloth in the soul when associated with the lack of righteous indignation.”
Anger can be transformed into passion. And, passion is a vehicle of justice.
Here's what I know about outrage. If you look around and see what's going on, and you aren't outraged, you aren't paying attention.
Remember the words of Pastor Martin Niemoller (1892–1984)
First they came for the communists,Pay attention.
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
The new old misogyny is on the rise.
And, it's coming soon to a legislative session, Planned Parenthood Center, low income preschool, Head Start Program and low income Health Clinic near you.
What are YOU going to do about it?