{divergence} The Supreme Court got it WRONG about abortion clinic buffer zones

I usually try to keep my politics off my blog, although lord knows that as someone with a degree in Political Science, it’s not like I don’t have opinions. There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to offend, and there’s another part of me that doesn’t give any thought to what other people think. If they choose to disagree, that’s their right.

So here’s where things get murky.

In the Supreme Court decision yesterday on the matter of McCullen et al. v. Coakley, the Supremes decided that the 35 foot buffer zone around clinics providing abortions in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was a “burden” on free speech. The law was intended to provide a safe space, a bubble – if you will – around clinics so that patients and employees of the same would be able to enter and exit without undue disruption. You know, like people screaming bloody murder in their face. Or, perhaps, people actually murdering someone, which is what was the impetus for the buffer zone in the first damn place.

Here’s the thing: I don’t trust that the pro-lifers will be respectful now that the bubble has been burst, and I can only hope that Governor Deval Patrick, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Attorney General Martha Coakley make the effort to put more protections in place while the State House finds some other way – perhaps following New York’s lead of a 15-foot buffer zone – to rebuild a safe space.

Not all women who go to Planned Parenthood or other reproductive services clinics are there for abortions. And even if they are, abortion isn’t illegal. Harassment and intimidation, if not illegal, are really fricking tacky. Murder: definitely illegal. So, if we’re going to go on record as to who seems to like committing the crimes, I’m willing to point the pen squarely at the pro-lifers.

Operation Rescue leadership and long-time clinic protestors praised the Court’s decision, salivating at the opportunity to “educate” women about their choices. Strangely, their “education” only involves one choice…which, if you’ve ever learned how to count, means a complete LACK of choice. Choice implies more than one option. And if you have to educate by screaming, foaming at the mouth, intimidating, and frightening people, then you need to re-evaluate your curriculum. Do you want to know what goes on inside these clinics? Healthcare. Women interacting one-on-one with a clinician about their bodies and their health. Those conversations and anything that takes place inside those four walls are for no one else’s ears and eyes; HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) is supposed to take care of that.

What would be great is if all of those people who choose to spend their time harassing the patients and staff of these clinics would refocus their efforts on helping the children who are already in this mortal coil and left behind by all sorts of circumstances, including parents completely incapable of taking care of them. There are kids in need of safe homes, clothing, food, education, and nurturing. Why aren’t they helping those kids?

And if we want to talk about freedom, how come “freedom” only gets to apply to taxes and guns but my uterus is up for grabs?

In the interest of full disclosure, I will say quite truthfully that – as of this point in my life – I’ve never had an abortion. I’m a mother of two children that I love more than my own life, and it was my choice to have them. And it was my choice to become a parent. And it was MY CHOICE to do what I did such that I have two wonderful kiddos. I would never in a million years want someone to have their CHOICE revoked by someone else, and – as I’ve already said – CHOICE necessitates more than one option. We don’t live in the world of “The Handmaid’s Tale” yet, and I hope we never do.

Women aren’t things. We’re people. We have brains and thoughts and feelings, and we are more than breasts, a vagina and a uterus.

To Operation Rescue: why don’t you rescue people who are really in need of saving? Put that effort towards fully funding Pre-K, donating money and time to The Greater Boston Food Bank, or shoring up finances for the tangled web of homeless shelters and soup kitchens around the Commonwealth.

To the leaders of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: I trust you to set this right and to fix the mess the Supreme Court has made. Please act swiftly, before something terrible and totally preventable happens thanks to some whack-job being emboldened by a misguided Court decision.

To the Supreme Court: shame on you for showing a complete lack of support for women and their right not only to “free speech” but to freedom from intimidation, harassment, and violations of personal space.

And finally, to everyone else: you don’t have to agree with me, and I respect your right to have a different opinion. That’s the joy of choice and the societal burden that comes with free speech. Choice requires more than one option, and no amount of bullshit “free speech” arguments will change that the people who challenged this law did so with the motivation and intent to do harm to these clinic patients and staffers, to limit these women and their freedom. And that, my dear readers, is just NOT okay.

It’s just not okay.

How Komen isn’t “for the cure” anymore

So, this is one of those posts where I’m going to rant a little. My apologies in advance. It’s just that I’m really ticked off now, and I feel the need to get some of this off my chest.

Since about 1996 (excepting only 2 years), I’ve done the Race for the Cure down in my hometown of Washington, DC. When I couldn’t make it down, and even in some of the years when I did, I also tried to do the Boston Race for the Cure, although that’s been less frequent due to all kinds of other things cropping up on my schedule. The RFTC at home is my chance to pull together a bunch of friends – plus my family – and do the Race in a crowd. I’ve even pulled together a team with one of my BFFs, and we’ve raised thousands of dollars for Komen over the years.

But not anymore.

I was thrown off a little by seeing things bathed in pink and wondering whether Komen was taking it a little too far to have Kitchenaid stand mixers that had “a portion” of the sale going “to the cure”. Anything that could be painted pink, short of a poodle, seemed to be – and there was always that “portion” going “to the cure”. It seemed a little opportunistic, perhaps a lot whorish, but I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt because it was all going to the right cause: to raise funds in support of research to stop breast cancer and to provide services to men and women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. When you have friends and family touched by this awful disease, it seems like low-hanging fruit in terms of fundraisers. Everybody knows SOMEBODY who’s had it.

I was peeved when I heard that Komen had started to sue other charities and fundraisers that used the term “for the cure” because they deemed it infringement on their brand. I could understand some of why this could be an issue, since I’ve seen things that look dodgy that have “for the cure” that are certainly not going to Komen…and people who aren’t familiar with the organization may just assume that anything with “for the cure” is going to them, even when it’s not. But still, you don’t see the Minute Maid people using bulldozers to take out kids’ lemonade stands.

But then I saw a story from the Washington Post that said Komen was cutting off further grants to Planned Parenthood, under the guise of a new internal regulation that barred grants to organizations under investigation by Congress. Since some of the more conservative members of Congress are hellbent-for-leather on driving Planned Parenthood out of business, OF COURSE it’s under investigation. Thus, Komen cuts off grants. That means that life-saving breast cancer-related services (like, say, mammograms) provided for free or at a discount via local Planned Parenthoods just got defunded. In other words, the pro-life agenda is actually turning pro-death: by turning womens health issues into some kind of moronic political hockey match, poor, uninsured and underinsured women will no longer be able to get the services they need from Planned Parenthood and will risk having cancer go undetected or untreated.

WAY TO GO PRO-LIFERS IN CONGRESS: you just got Komen to do some of your dirty work for you.

And WAY TO GO KOMEN: you were stupid enough to think that playing politics with womens health is an okay thing to do.

So, here’s what I plan to do about it: I’m not going to raise one red cent for Komen until they fix this mess.

I will continue to do the walk with my family (although the money that goes into my registration basically covers the cost of my participation and the event itself; they rely on the fundraising to help get them in the black). I will raise money BUT that money will be directed to Planned Parenthood. I will set up a site via FirstGiving that allows me to accept donations online (securely) that will go straight to Planned Parenthood with a minimum of fuss. I’ve already checked out the site, and I’ll be setting up my page in a few weeks, as my plans for the Race start to come together.

I’m so angry I can’t even describe it in words that will make sense. When someone says that it’s okay to defund medical services to women – especially poorer women – they’re saying that those women are acceptable losses. I’m here to say that’s not the case. This isn’t about abortion. These grants weren’t going to pay for abortions. These grants went to help detect and treat breast cancer. And I’m offended that it got politicized by people who apparently only pay lip service to the notion that they’re trying to be “for the cure”. What the hell can you cure if you cut off services? Nancy Brinker et al, should hang their heads in shame. Komen was supposed to broaden access, not choke it off.

It blows my mind.

And I’m done. Until Komen removes its head from its rear-end, I refuse to raise money for the organization. I will encourage my friends and family to donate to Planned Parenthood to keep those services available for women in need. Somebody has to. Because, honestly, that’s “for the cure” so much more than any pink ANYTHING in the world.

Consider this Race this year the Race for Access. The Race for Non-Stupidity. The Race for Non-Assholishness by Organizations That Should Know Better. The Race to Keep Medical Facilities Open For Medical Needs.

In the meantime, if you want to donate to your nearby Planned Parenthood, you can donate to a regional PP via the Planned Parenthood web site.