David Edwards here at Raw Story caught what might be one of the most unhinged rants ever about Planned Parenthood on Fox News, with Alison Howard of Concerned Women for America accusing the family planning organization of murdering “millions of young women” and “committing” sex trafficking.The host chimed in with “teaching promiscuity”. (“Promiscuity” being a deliciously vague word that is meant to be heard as “anyone who has sex more than you”.) I was impressed by the level of paranoia here. I went to Planned Parenthood frequently for medical care and just to pick up my prescriptions for years, and I never got murdered or sex trafficked. That I know of. I suppose I got taught “promiscuity” in that they acted like it’s normal to have sex while female (due to the fact that it is). It is objectively true that if you go into Planned Parenthood and you tell the nurses and doctors there that you have sex, they do not throw holy water on you and try to exorcise the demons of sexuality from you. Which is the real objection here, with the murder and sex trafficking accusations thrown in for good measure, because anti-choicers tend to believe if you’re evil enough to think sex is okay, you’re evil enough to do anything.
Of course, since the murdering women thing is kind of easy to disprove, Howard had a weird caveat to justify how she could say they’re just murdering women away like some kind of Ted Bundy operation there: “Little women in the womb that never got a chance like they did.”
This is what an obsessive hatred of human sexuality does to a person: It permanently corrupts their ability to make even a modicum of sense when they talk. Are embryos, by any normal accounting of human biology, rightfully called “women”? No, that is ridiculous. No one has sincerely equated an embryo and a woman throughout the entirety of human history. The bizarre implication here is that in order to justify an embryo’s right to life, she has to equate it not with a baby or even a child, but a grown woman. The bizarre implication is that it’s not enough to falsely equate it with a baby but you have to pretend the damn thing can vote and drink liquor and is over 5 feet tall now. Why? Does Howard think that the laws on murder only cover people who have reached voting age now? It’s already a stretch to call it a “baby”. You get the impression with this rhetoric that they think mindless embryos are up in there reading books and texting on their miniature cellphones.
Of course, what she’s doing here is that flailing attempt at a “gotcha” against the “war on women” meme, like, “We believe that women have a right to control uteruses. The ones they live in!” I wonder what the uterus bachelorette pads look like in her imagination. Are the mini-women that she imagines live inside pregnant women good decorators? Are mini-women the sort that have big shoe closets or are they more minimalist sorts, sticking with one pair of wee sneakers and dressing from Embryonic Old Navy?
But the fantasy of mini-women aside, what really fascinated me about Howard’s rant was how it was delusional on all levels. This accusation is less tawdry than the murder-and-pimping stuff, but it’s equally false and, I hope, self-evidently false:
“I hope that young voters take notice that Planned Parenthood is not looking to help you in your real future with jobs, the economy, getting married, having kids one day, and living the American dream,” she insisted. “They’re trying to retake the American dreams in pink T-shirts that advocate abortion.”
Does access to birth control and abortion have any impact on whether or not one achieves one’s goals in terms of career, marriage, and having children when you want to? Uh, fucking duh. Howard can tie her shoes and speak on TV, so I assume she’s not so stupid as to realize that women use birth control and yes, abortion, precisely because they want things like careers, marriage, and kids—on their own terms. Unwanted childbirth is a known factor in derailing many a woman’s education and career plans, but it actually derails your marriage and childbirth plans, as well. If your plan is to date around so that you meet Mr. Right and being married to him for awhile before you have kids, then absolutely, you need birth control and abortion. Single moms absolutely do date and get married, of course, but let’s not pretend it isn’t harder to pull that off while managing your life as a parent than it is for a single woman who has more time and energy to devote to dating.
I realize that Howard’s implication here is that women who want to get married can and should only achieve that through being a virgin until your wedding night. That, of course, runs counter to everything that you can see if you leave your house on occasion. Nearly all married people have sex before marriage, and there’s no evidence that it hurts your ability to get married. On the contrary, if you do decide to abstain, it’s going to be a lot harder of a slog in the dating world for you unless you belong to a narrow group of hyper-conservative Christians, because most of the rest of understandably don’t want to risk a lifelong commitment to someone without verifying something as basic to happiness as sexual compatibility. The implication, therefore, is that basic health care shouldn’t be available to the 95% of us who go with the sex-before-marriage option. That’s where Fox News is these days. And that’s just as nutty as the murder-and-pimping accusations.