On Saturday I walked with the Minneapolis contingent of the nation-wide Walk4Choice, a visibility event meant to draw attention to the recent anti-health legislation being proposed by pro-life advocates at both the federal and state levels.
Several bills have been introduced in 2011 which would do (or would have done) things like expand conscience clauses, define murder of those who attempt to harm a fetus as justifiable homicide, redefine rape so that some types of rape would be “worse” than others (and thus less deserving of abortion and funding for abortion), put financial pressure on insurance companies who cover abortions, and call for the investigation of miscarriages as prenatal murder unless they can be proven to be spontaneous.
Perhaps the most heart-wrenching bills are those like H.R.3: No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion, which would cut federal funding for organizations that provide any type of abortion services. That means that organizations like Planned Parenthood would lose federal funding for desperately needed services such as contraception, breast and cervical cancer screening, gynecological exams, STD testing and other routine lab work, treatment for urinary tract infections and yeast infections and countless other services, education and support.
And here’s the real kicker with these bills that are being introduced in the interest of “not forcing taxpayers to pay for abortions”: Because of the Hyde Amendment, Planned Parenthood (and others) already cannot use federal funding in the vast majority of abortion services. Planned Parenthood serves over five million clients a year, and only about 3% of their services involve abortion counseling and abortion procedures. Talk about cutting off the nose to spite the face.
H.R. 3 passed the US House on 2/18/11 and will next go before the Senate.
These types of bills are not intended to protect we taxpayers or to save lives; they are a distraction from greater problems that we face as a country. The lawmakers who are introducing these bills are wasting time until they can have a crack at the 2012 elections. Unfortunately, we can’t just dismiss these bills as the political posturing that we know them to be because people will suffer if we defund organizations like Planned Parenthood, if we restrict safe, legal access to abortion, if we stop offering affordable health services to men and women in a health care environment like the one we have in this country. So we write opinion pieces and blog posts, we call and email our congress members, we sign petititions, we send checks to organizations that support our rights, we have conversations with our friends and family.
And we walk.
Walk4Choice Minneapolis heads out from the intersection of 4th Street SE and 15th Ave SE in Dinkytown by the University of Minnesota, led by walk organizer Nora.
Walk4Choice supporters pose in front of the Minneapolis skyline on the Stone Arch Bridge. In total we had about 20 volunteers, with some people showing up later on the route.
In front of Minneapolis City Hall as the light rail glides by. Half of the group is huddling for warmth in the train shelter.
Two walkers laugh and cheer as we get shouts of support and honking from passing traffic. We had some hecklers and a few curses were thrown our way, but for the most part people were polite. The honks, thumbs up, waves and cheers were very welcome encouragement.
Here we are on Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis. You can see the Pantages theater in the background. Halfway through the walk my lips and cheeks were so cold that I had trouble forming the word “women” when we chanted “Trust Women!”. We ended up walking about five miles on slushy, cold, icy, windy, snowy sidewalks and streets, and our organizer later used the hashtag #freeze4choice to describe our walk on Twitter.