News & Politics

Why the Right-Wing's Insane Attacks on Women's Health May be Backfiring

This grisly ad, and the war on Planned Parenthood, is just another example of conservative overreach. And it may just backfire.

The grisly advertisement from the virulently anti-choice American Life League is an odd one: a bunny rabbit is placed in a blender, the blender is turned on--fade to black. What is the advertisement--using that poor bunny's imagined demise as a metaphor for abortion--specifically advocating? Gutting Title X funding, as we've reported here at AlterNet, would decimate family planning programs in the U.S., and most likely increase the abortion rate. So there would actually be more bunnies in blenders, if they're really hell-bent on using that metaphor.

Here's the transcript (courtesy of Maya at Feministing):

Imagine the government giving hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars every year to a company that does this. [Rabbit placed in blender. Sound of blender being turned on.]

It does. Only they’re not bunnies.

Receiving over $300 million of your tax dollars every year, Planned Parenthood does this nearly a thousand times a day.

Tell Congress: It’s time to stop Planned Parenthood’s tax funding. 

There's just one problem with the ad (beyond the obvious fact that there's no clear symbolic correlation between safe, legal abortions and a bunny smoothie): there's currently no funding for PPFA for abortions, thanks to the Hyde Amendment. And again, getting rid of PPFA's funding would probably make abortions more common.

The ad is so bizarre that it has to be said: it makes the American Life League resemble the famous bunny-boiling Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, except these anti-choicers are turning their psychotic gaze at women's health in general rather than one person specifically.

It's not only anti-choice groups that are overreaching though. The GOP has also been letting its true extremist colors show.

As Amie Newman, who brought attention to the ad, writes at RH Reality Check:

I almost thought the "Bunnies in a blender" ad was a joke when I viewed it. It's actually more of a riddle, though...How can a group which calls itself "pro-life" actually be opposed to any and all measures which help women and infants stay healthy, and prevent death? This actually isn't about abortion at all. It's about contraception and planning ones' family. It's about our mothers' and babies' health and lives. 

It seems that most Americans agree with Newman's bafflement at this anti-Planned Parenthood, anti-Title X vendetta from extreme right-wing groups like ALL and its pals in congress. A new series of polls shows Americans oppose cutting that funding. 

And Politico ran a story this morning describing Planned Parenthood's flurry of activity in the senate, essentially warning lawmakers of electoral repercussions if they vote to defund Title X. The piece describes the unprecedented outpouring of support for PPFA and groups like NARAL, and quotes women's leaders as saying this assault into previously neutral territory is awakening a "sleeping giant" of concerned citizens furious at the GOP's overreach.

“Going after the strongest brand in women’s health in America is one of the stupidest things the Republican Party could have done,” Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards told Politico

PPFA is even using polling--conducted in states that have senate swing votes--to show that the public stands behind PPFA, no matter what the stance on abortion. The message that PPFA is about health care, and that attacks on Planned Parenthood are attacks on women's health is being heard and understood, loud and clear. The American public gets what ALL can't comprehend. Writes Politico:

The survey suggests, though, that Americans don’t automatically identify a fight over the group’s funding with abortions. It found that, for instance, 64 percent of voters oppose efforts to bar funding for the organization’s screenings for breast cancer.

In Massachusetts, from where swing voter Scott Brown hails, only 27 percent of voters approved of gutting PPFA's funding. Hopefully those numbers will influence his vote. 

It may be that the bunny-blending, women-hating behavior of conservatives is finally turning middle-of-the-road Americans on to what the anti-choice movement is all about: punishing women for their sexuality, not saving babies. As Melissa Harris-Perry writes at the Nation, the combination of extreme anti-abortion measures, defunding Planned Parenthood, union-busting and getting rid of subsidized childcare are all designed to get women out of the workplace and back into the domestic sphere.

Indeed, the bunny in the blender is just one whiff of the GOP's prurient interest in women's health. Representative Steve King got on the floor of the House to say that Planned Parenthood was "invested in promiscuity." Jessica Wakeman at the Frisky was appalled:

Promiscuity?! That’s what you think sexual health care is about?! Planned Parenthood provides pelvic exams. It provides HPV testing. It provides breast exams. It prescribes birth control, which, yes, stops you from getting knocked up, but also regulates crazy periods and helps your skin. Why, even virgins can go to Planned Parenthood!

As the thousands of young women who gathered together to walk for choice last weekend demonstrate, Cecile Richards may be right. Provided this reprehensible measure fails in the senate, attacking Planned Parenthood and Title X might be the stupidest thing the right-wing ever did in the area of women's rights, and may serve to galvanize the feminist movement. 

 

Sarah Seltzer is an associate editor at AlterNet, a staff writer at RH Reality Check and a freelance writer based in New York City. Her work has been published in Jezebel.com and on the websites of the Nation, the Christian Science Monitor and the Wall Street Journal. Find her at sarahmseltzer.com.
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