If you blinked earlier today, you likely missed it when the House voted on the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), a bill that would have banned abortions based on gender. Sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Republicans touted the bill as civil rights legislation that would combat prenatal sexual discrimination (particularly against females). In an earlier draft, PRENDA also banned abortions based on race, but apparently Rep. Franks felt that was an option that should be left on the table, as that provision was removed.
Either way, the bill didn’t pass—but before you get ahead of yourself and think common sense found its way into the ranks of the GOP, PRENDA was brought to the floor during a suspension of rules, meaning it required a two-thirds majority of the vote to win the day. In the end, the vote was 246 votes in favor, 168 votes opposed, and 3 votes in fucking disbelief. All but seven Republicans voted for it. And while the Republicans were clearly upset by the bill’s defeat, after the vote they all regrouped and immediately got back to the hard work of doing absolutely nothing for America.
Though PRENDA—which would essentially have made any woman getting an abortion a “suspect” while simultaneously putting any one performing an abortion into the position of discerning “motive”—failed, I wouldn’t take a sigh of relief just yet, as this bill was more about seeding the electorate than changing law. For that reason, you should prepare yourself to get really sick of the word “gendercide.”
Because if evangelical Christians and the right-wing media have their way, “gendercide” will quickly become a major buzz word that will for many define this November’s elections (and when, by the way, are we just going to start calling them what they are: auctions). For those of you unfamiliar with gendercide, ABC News defines it as the practice of “terminating pregnancies solely because the fetus is female,” as opposed to aborting a fetus because it’s male, which is a practice known in the industrialized world as plain old common sense.
Okay, okay, ABC’s definition isn’t entirely true. For starters, gendercide can be waged against both males and females (though, female gendercide has received far more scrutiny in recent decades). Plus, gendercide is a term that’s traditionally used to describe a culturally pervasive tendency to manipulate gender ratios—occasionally by infanticide but largely through sex-selective abortion.
But it’s not a term you would generally use to describe a Jersey housewife trying to engineer the perfect nuclear family. For that kind of situation, we have words like “Snookie” and “Kardashian.”*
Fortunately for us all, American journalists are too busy to look words up to guarantee they’re using them properly, preferring instead to let religious fanatics redefine abortion in a way that links the act to occasionally brutal and socially damaging practices in countries like China and India. The press’ laziness is particularly good news for the GOP. Desperate to distance themselves from their well-documented history of working against women’s rights, Republicans are going to jump all over the issue of gendercide. Aside from being a backdoor way of defending a pro-life agenda, denouncing female gendercide will prove, once and for all, that the GOP is the only party that will truly fight for women’s rights.
Well, unborn women’s rights, but you get the point. It’s a war on women in the name of women.
Still, if “gendercide” does start trending, it won’t be because of PRENDA, but rather because of a rather timely (and well-coordinated) video released earlier this week by Live Action, a youth-led, pro-life cult of people we’d call “dangerous extremists” if they practiced a religion other than Christianity. That said, in this video—which accuses Planned Parenthood of gendercide—an undercover woman visits a local PP in Texas and says she only wants to have an abortion if she’s having a girl. Throughout the duration of the video (which as you can imagine has been heavily edited to provide a properly damning context), a clearly uncomfortable PP-counselor offers the woman basic information relating to how and when to determine the fetus’ gender, as well as how far into the pregnancy one can get and still have an abortion. Towards the end of the video, the counselor—who has since been, pardon the pun, terminated—walks the undercover woman to the door and says, “I hope that you do get your boy.”
And let’s face it: in this case “I hope that you do get your boy” is basically the same thing as saying, “I hope you don’t have an abortion.” You would think that kind of sentiment from a PP employee would make Republicans happy. Right?
Yeah, they’re not happy. At least not on the surface—deep down, I’m sure they’re all delighted at yet another opportunity to go after PP while, at the same time, accusing a non-profit organization that helps millions of women of being complicit in female gendercide. Why, I have no doubt that Rush Blimpaugh and Glenn Beck are currently manufacturing all kinds of phony outrage with which to launch their next attacks against PP.** Hell, just by closing my eyes and cupping a hand over my ear, I can already hear Rush putting down his sammich just long enough to scream, “Your tax dollars are being funneled to a group that’s actively assisting in the gendercide of women. It’s an atrocity.”
Of course, the real atrocity is that groups like Live Action continue to get taken seriously by anyone. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s really cool that a bunch of Jesus-Camped freaks whose parents taught them to fear critical thinking are taking an active role in the politics of the world. What saddens me is that at such a young age they’ve reached a level of shamelessness that it took Karl Rove a good 30 or 40 years to achieve.
Up, up with Jesus, I guess, but this video is particularly shady. For starters, within the video the narrator mentions that throughout April Live Action visited abortion clinics all over America, pretending to be patients. This fact has me shaking my head and wanting to remind these Christian warriors that PP gets a lot of its funding from our taxes; when you pretend to be a patient, aside from diverting care from those who might actually need it, you’re also wasting a lot of tax dollars that could be used on, I don’t know…abortions?
As a tax payer, I’d like to see some sort of itemized list of all the clinics they went to and the services they received, because I think we’re all entitled to a bit of reimbursement.
I mean hell, I thought these people were Christians, and according to the Christian network I occasionally watch (FOX News) wasting tax dollars is the greatest sin of them all.
Still, they went to clinics all over the country, and from that all we get is a highly edited, seven minute video from one clinic in Texas? Live Action doesn’t even mention what, if anything, occurred at any of their other attempts to make PP look bad. Still, the video charges PP with gendercide several times, so I imagine it’s a safe bet that what we see happen at this Texas facility is reflective of all the clinics they visited. Right?
Either that, or this video merely proves that if you visit enough PP locations, you’re eventually going to find someone to step into your noose.
Now, the video opens up with some snazzy piano work, the number “100,000,000” blazing across the screen as a woman’s voice says, “One hundred million girls are missing today. These girls are victims of female gendercide.” This bugs me for two reasons. First, the girls aren’t missing; if you visit all those abortion clinics, the doctors there will be glad to tell you exactly where those fetuses were incinerated.
But what bugs me even more is the fact that the video makes no effort to explain that almost all of the victims of gendercide are from Asian countries, where a combination of laws, cultural preferences and socio-economic issues have led to dramatic gaps in gender ratios (a fact that is having far-reaching implications for many nations, beyond the obvious human rights concerns).
But instead of shining a light on this fact, Live Action is more content to draw our attention away from the real issue of gendercide and direct it toward PP—which is the journalistic equivalent of setting some matches to a trash can and occupying the fire department’s time and resources while houses are burning to the ground a few blocks over. So yeah, this is shameless, but le me remind you that Live Action is run by Evangelical fanatics and “shameless” is pretty much what those people specialize in.
In all fairness, I totally agree with Live Action that terminating a pregnancy because the fetus turns out to be one gender or the other is a pretty vulgar thing to do. Just speaking for myself, here, but I’m an equal-opportunity aborter and gender doesn’t matter a lick. That said, this line of argument misses out on something pretty important—I mean, aside from the fact that while gendercide is a serious issue in many parts of the world, in America (where women outnumber men by four million, which is roughly the amount of extra women needed to keep Mormons happy) it’s probably not the social pandemic Live Action would have us believe it is. Does sex-selective abortion happen in America? I am sure it does, but when those women terminate their pregnancy because of the gender of the fetus, it’s not PP’s fault.
It’s God’s fault.
What, you don’t think those women didn’t spend a few minutes every night, pouring out their hearts to God, praying, “please, dear lord, let it be a boy” only to learn after the ultrasound that the Alpha and Omega had totally punked them with a girl? No, as far as I’m concerned, if you pray for a boy and get a girl (or vice versa), that fetus’ blood is on God’s hands. If God doesn’t like abortion, he can get off his ass, answer some prayers and save some babies’ lives.
Until then, though, Planned Parenthood will continue to have my full support.
*Before you write to me to point out that the Kardashians are not from Jersey, I’d like to point out that you really suck for knowing that.
**Republicans can’t stand PP, but not because they perform abortions. They can’t stand them because they give highly discounted medical coverage to people who otherwise would be forced to pay way too much for health care at a for-profit hospital. The GOP is all about the Benjamins, and all their bluster about moral issues is little more than smoke and mirrors to disguise their unbridled greed.