Saturday, December 11, 2004

Don't complain if someone says "told ya so"

We were told. We were warned, all of us, but too many didn't want to listen. It was alarmist, it would never happen, it was paranoid to even think about it. Even they would know they couldn't go that far. So the warnings that the right wing was not only out to ban abortion, they were after family planning and birth control, too, went unheeded. (Well, not by all of us, they weren't.)

And now?
Not since Margaret Sanger's crusade to legalize birth control in the 1920s has family planning come under such assault,
writes Eleanor Clift in Newsweek.
Pharmacists around the country are refusing to fill prescriptions for birth-control pills, exercising their right to "refuse and refer" under the industry's code of ethics. These self-styled refuseniks are so ardent they generally don't offer a referral, and in small-town America there is often only one pharmacy in town anyway.

On Capitol Hill, conservative Republicans inserted a provision in the budget to extend conscience clauses throughout the health-care industry. Democrats cried foul, and GOP leaders pulled the measure for now. But 13 states are considering 22 pieces of similar legislation that would curtail access to family-planning services, including contraceptives. ...

The Planned Parenthood building on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington is under tight security. A guard answers the door, which is locked.
There works Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood, who says "anti-choice zealots" are working to "chip away at reproductive rights." In his very first budget, Shrub took contraceptive coverage away from federal employees. Congress put it back in, but the new, more reactionary Congress beginning in January may be much more willing to go along. The present Congress, meanwhile, has already passed the grossly mis-named Abortion Non-Discrimination Act, which allows any health care provider or institution, including not only such as hospitals and HMOs but even insurance plans, to refuse to provide abortion services or coverage. No claim of religious or conscientious objection is required.

Meanwhile, family planning and contraceptive programs are being turned into abstinence programs full of misinformation and money is being moved from more traditional, more centrist providers such as PP to conservative "faith-based" groups.

Ultimately, Feldt believes, contraception is such an accepted, even everyday, matter that Bush will stumble over it.
The big showdown will come when Bush names his first Supreme Court justice. Either he will overreact in a way that will now be public, and he won't have any more hiding places, or he'll read the polls and nominate somebody who can pass the mainstream test. "Either case we win," says Feldt.
I hope she's right; my concern is that the Shrub team will do an end run, much in the same way as was done with Clarence Thomas: Find someone you can rely on to be faithfully conservative but who doesn't have a lot of case history for opponents to take aim at, a lesson they learned from the Robert Bork fiasco.

By the way, Feldt also slaps the Dums for suggesting they might be more selective in opposing Bush. They've got nothing to lose by being a real opposition, she says, noting that the reactionary wing among the GOPpers got control of the abortion debate because "they weren't afraid to be troublemakers." I like her attitude.

Footnote: Interesting enough, someone who was apparently a real friend to family planning was George H. W. Bush, who talked about it so much he got the nickname "Rubbers." Remember the story about how Shrub supposedly came home drunk and challenged his father to go "mano y mano?" I think Bush Sr. should have just punched his lights out and sent him back to the ranch where he wouldn't do any more damage.

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