Why Planned Parenthood matters

The Tea Party tried to turn the group into the New Black Panther Party, and instead inspired an ongoing backlash

Topics: Planned Parenthood, ,

Why Planned Parenthood matters (Credit: Reuters)

On Thursday I’ll be speaking at Planned Parenthood of Illinois’ annual gala, and I’m honored. (Tickets are available here.) I’ve always supported Planned Parenthood, but I think the group has helped change the political debate in this country in tangible ways over the last year or so, and I’m excited to talk about where we go from here.

We also have to thank the Tea Party, of course. My MSNBC colleague Chris Hayes joked on Monday that Tea Party extremists “thought they could turn Planned Parenthood into the New Black Panthers” – that Fox News boogeyman – but they were wrong. When they pushed to defund Planned Parenthood, they touched off a grass-roots uprising to defend not only the organization, but women’s health and freedom. It flared up again when Susan G. Komen defunded Planned Parenthood, and Komen had to reverse itself.

I think the attacks on Planned Parenthood are part of what is widening the gender gap behind President Obama. Reading David Corn’s absorbing “Showdown: The Inside Story of How Obama Fought Back Against Boehner, Cantor and the Tea Party” (I’ll write more on it soon), I was bewildered all over again that House Speaker John Boehner tried to force President Obama to cut federal funding to Planned Parenthood in their negotiations to avert a government shutdown last April. Obama wisely refused.

I’m not going to be partisan in my talk, because there are still Republicans out there who support Planned Parenthood and what it stands for. As Rebecca Traister and I wrote after the Komen debacle, Planned Parenthood was traditionally the staid, bipartisan women’s health organization, supported by Republicans like Peggy Goldwater, Prescott Bush and his son George H.W. Bush, Barbara Bush, Betty Ford – and of course, at one time, Ann Romney, and Mitt Romney’s extended family. I think it would be good for the country, not just for Planned Parenthood, if believing that women (and men) should be able to plan their families went back to being a bipartisan point of view. Actually, it is still a bipartisan point of view, it’s just that Tea Party extremists are trying to hijack the Republican Party and impose a fringe view on the rest of us.

You Might Also Like

But the double-barrel assault on Planned Parenthood, first by the Tea Party, then by Komen, woke women up to that new radicalism, one that put even contraception access back on the table. (Thanks, Rick Santorum!) I think it also woke up the women’s movement to the importance of placing contraception and abortion services in a full spectrum of women’s healthcare – as well as in the larger context of the kind of society we want.  In the ’70s, the right grabbed the language of morality, love and family as its own. We’re taking it back. The assault on Planned Parenthood, and the spontaneous public backlash, reminded a lot of feminists that we’re the mainstream — the Tea Party radicals are not.

I’ll be talking about what we do with all that energy in my speech on Thursday. Hope to see some of you there.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    DAYA  
    Young Daya has yet to become entirely jaded, but she has the character's trademark skeptical pout down pat. And with a piece-of-work mother like Aleida -- who oscillates between jealousy and scorn for her creatively gifted daughter, chucking out the artwork she brings home from summer camp -- who can blame her?

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    MORELLO   
    With her marriage to prison penpal Vince Muccio, Lorna finally got to wear the white veil she has fantasized about since childhood (even if it was made of toilet paper).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CINDY   
    Cindy's embrace of Judaism makes sense when we see her childhood, lived under the fist of a terrifying father who preached a fire-and-brimstone version of Christianity. As she put it: "I was raised in a church where I was told to believe and pray. And if I was bad, I’d go to hell."

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CAPUTO   
    Joey Caputo has always tried to be a good guy, whether it's offering to fight a disabled wrestler at a high school wrestling event or giving up his musical ambitions to raise another man's child. But trying to be a nice guy never exactly worked out for him -- which might explain why he decides to take the selfish route in the Season 3 finale.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    BOO   
    In one of the season's more moving flashbacks, we see a young Boo -- who rejected the traditional trappings of femininity from a young age -- clashing with her mother over what to wear. Later, she makes the decision not to visit her mother on her deathbed if it means pretending to be something she's not. As she puts it, "I refuse to be invisible, Daddy. Not for you, not for Mom, not for anybody.”

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    SOSO
    We still don't know what landed Brooke Soso in the slammer, but a late-season flashback suggests that some seriously overbearing parenting may have been the impetus for her downward spiral.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    POUSSEY
    We already know a little about Poussey's relationship with her military father, but this season we saw a softer side of the spunky fan-favorite, who still pines for the loving mom that she lost too young.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    PENNSATUCKY
    Pennsatucky had something of a redemption arc this season, and glimpses of her childhood only serve to increase viewer sympathy for the character, whose mother forced her to chug Mountain Dew outside the Social Security Administration office and stripped her of her sexual agency before she was even old enough to comprehend it.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CHANG
    This season, we got an intense look at the teenage life of one of Litchfield's most isolated and underexplored inmates. Rebuffed and scorned by her suitor at an arranged marriage, the young Chinese immigrant stored up a grudge, and ultimately exacted a merciless revenge.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    HEALY
    It's difficult to sympathize with the racist, misogynist CO Sam Healy, but the snippets we get of his childhood -- raised by a mentally ill mother, vomited on by a homeless man he mistakes for Jesus when he runs to the church for help -- certainly help us understand him better.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NORMA
    This season, we learned a lot about one of Litchfield's biggest enigmas, as we saw the roots of Norma's silence (a childhood stutter) and the reason for her incarceration (killing the oppressive cult leader she followed for decades).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NICKI
    While Nicki's mother certainly isn't entirely to blame for her daughter's struggles with addiction, an early childhood flashback -- of an adorable young Nicki being rebuffed on Mother's Day -- certainly helps us understand the roots of Nicki's scarred psyche.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>