The fight against misinformation
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A few days ago, I drove across the plains of North Texas. Smooth flat lines of the winter yellow grass met the blue horizon for miles without interruption. I was so far from much of anything that my radio had slowly been taken over by static. I found only able to find a few islands of sound out there. The clearest voices came from the local Christian talk radio station. Sounding like a good-natured grandfather, the host of the show dispensed advice and news. Underneath the friendly veneer, however, was a campaign of lies meant to convince the flocks to join in a demonization abortion, contraception, and even information.
Among the many screeds against abortion, contraception, and safe sex, this particular radio show was railing against Planned Parenthood. The charge was that Planned Parenthood is not actually a women's health organization. No, according to the Christians who dominant airwaves in anywhere, Texas (and anywhere, USA), Planned Parenthood is an evil, baby-hating organization dedicated to killing human beings and brainwashing young women.
Hearing this, I sighed and turned of the radio. Like a lot of folks, I'm sick of screaming at each other from different sides of the aisle as the rising voices grow more insane in their rage. But more than anything, I am sick of the lies. I'm disgusted with the shrewd campaign of misinformation by the Christian Right.
I bring this up on this anniversary of Roe v. Wade because I think it is hugely important for us to stand up not only for our right to choose abortion, but also for the rights of the organizations that provide us with choices. Organizations like Planned Parenthood give us the tools to be able choose our destinies by providing an education that is so vehemently withheld in many schools and churches. It aids women in making smart contraceptive choices, and supports us when we choose to correct the life-altering mistake of an unplanned pregnancy. Yet, the Christian Right declares Planned Parenthood -- which offers prenatal care, low-cost exams to test for ovarian and breast cancer, infertility screening, testing and treatment for STDs -- to be unconcerned with health?
Five million people receive health services from Planned Parenthood per year, actually helping prevent abortions by giving women access to contraception and knowledge. Yet the Bush administration and his Christian cronies have fought to kill this institution for years. Without organizations like this, we would go back to days when women killed themselves along with their unwanted fetuses. Days when women would mutilate and harm themselves because the only other option was forced childbirth.
The fight about abortion has been framed in a variety of ways -- it is about choice, about control over women's bodies, about religion and secularism, contraception and education, children and the effects of forcing unwanted children into existence. But it has also turned into a more basic struggle about simple information. So on this day of protecting the right to have control over our own bodies, we also have to make it a day of protecting the truth and the organizations that give us reproductive choices.
Posted in conjunction with Blog for Choice Day.
Maria Luisa Tucker is a staff writer at AlterNet and associate editor of the Columbia Journal of American Studies.