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Artillery Row

Blame the abortion lobby for Texas

Did Planned Parenthood’s obsession with trans activism distract them from the abortion ban?

On 1 September, the state of Texas began implementing the most severe abortion restrictions in the United States, through a series of measures that prohibited the practice after the first six weeks of pregnancy. The Supreme Court, following a 5-4 vote, refused to intervene.

Most women don’t know they are pregnant at this stage, which leaves them in the invidious (and now unlawful) position of either seeking back-alley abortions or going to another state. The measures introduced this week also estipulate that anybody helping a woman obtain an abortion — including family members, friends or service providers — can be sued by private individuals for up to $10,000 (£7,200).

Giving girls forty times their normal testosterone level is not most people’s ideas of a feminist organisation

In effect, the law is encouraging ordinary people to study the bodies of child-bearing aged girls and women in Texas for signs of growing bellies and swelling breasts… and the disappearance of those signs. This is a dystopian nightmare. Women will now go to great lengths to conceal any hint of morning sickness from colleagues and neighbours, lest any of them betray them.

The logical question is: where are the feminist organisations? It turns out that some have gone AWOL, tackling entirely different issues outside of their remit. Over the past decade, Planned Parenthood, the United States most powerful reproductive rights lobby, has become one of the largest providers of cross-sex hormone and transgender medical transition. Or as Planned Parenthood calls it “gender affirming hormone care.

A former employee told the Wall Street Journal‘s Abigail Shrier that, although providing abortions used to be the organisation’s bread and butter, medicalising children proved to be more lucrative: “Trans identifying kids are cash cows, and they are kept on the hook for the foreseeable future in terms of follow-up appointments, bloodwork, meetings, etc., whereas abortions are (hopefully) a one-and-done situation”.

Administering underage girls with ten to forty times the dose of testosterone their bodies naturally produce carries increased risks of vaginal and uterine atrophy, heart attacks, infertility and endometrial cancer, which is the antithesis of what most people assume a feminist organisation concerned with women’s health should do. 

People who oppose this, like Leana Wen, are unceremoniously sacked. Wen was the first doctor to lead Planned Parenthood in nearly 50 Years, but was removed following a secret meeting of the board. She had wanted Planned Parenthood to focus on the exhausting but effective approach of trying to win hearts and minds through measured messaging. In an effort to separate the organisation from the culture wars overwhelming the US, she sought to expand their nonabortion services. “This is health care,” was the wording to be put on banners and posters.

Today Planned Parenthood lectures parents that their child develops a sense of their gender identity at three years old

Wen told Buzzfeed News that, aside from abortion:

People aren’t coming to Planned Parenthood to make a political statement. They’re coming because they need their vaccinations. They need their well woman exams. They’re getting HIV tests.

In return, staff accused her of lacking “political savvy” and being “out of her depth.” Yet the dystopian restrictions imposed on Texan women and girls this week might constitute evidence that her approach was indeed correct. 

Wen said in a statement

I am leaving because the new Board Chairs and I have philosophical differences over the direction and future of Planned Parenthood. I believe the best way to protect abortion care is to be clear that it is not a political issue but a health care one, and that we can expand support for reproductive health care as the fundamental health care that it is.

Pressure to combine “gender identity” issues with the reproductive rights services people expect from an organisation like Planned Parenthood was one of the problems Wen encountered during her one-year leadership. Shortly after she was fired, Buzzfeed reported that one of the tensions was her reluctance to erase language specifically relating to women from the organisational messaging: 

Two sources told BuzzFeed News that Wen also refused to use “trans-inclusive” language, for example saying “people” instead of “women” and telling staff that she believed talking about transgender issues would “isolate people in the Midwest. For a period of a few months, Wen sometimes went through Planned Parenthood’s press releases and documents, deleting the word “sexual” from the phrase “sexual and reproductive health,” the source said.

Apart from being the biggest pro-abortion lobby group in the US, Planned Parenthood used to be known for providing family planning services and cancer screening to patients, many of them low income, who relied on their affordable services.

Today, it talks down to people, lecturing parents that their child develops “a sense of their gender identity” at three years old and instructing them on how to speak to children about trans issues while they are still in preschool.

The morning after the Texas abortion ban went into effect, a newscaster from ABC News asked the current Plan Parenthood president: “What is the impact of this law today? How is life in Texas different for women?” Her response spoke of people and patients, but note the word she refused to use:

The impact on low impact communities, BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of colour) communities and trans communities is very, very real and my heart goes out to all the patients and providers in Texas right now.

During the six-minute clip, she did not mention the word “woman” once. According to her, the Texas abortion ban “destroys communities, society, democracy and the constitution” … but not women’s rights or the gains of the feminist movement. 

The left stopped being able to convincingly claim to be pro-women when it started medicalising healthy girls, abolishing women’s sports, hounding feminist dissenters and spoiling accurate data on sex, so vital for public policy.  But what the Texas abortion ban demonstrates is that while the left has been engaging in a performative sprint, the right has been preparing for a marathon. How are we supposed to fight back against them if, like Joe Biden, we can’t even use the ‘w’ word?

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