With all the escalating hostility toward Planned Parenthood being stoked on the right, it comes as no surprise to read that a McKinney, Tex., Planned Parenthood was attacked with a Molotov cocktail Tuesday night. The bomb only started a minor fire and no one was hurt, and so they shouldn’t really experience much of a burp in being able to provide contraception, cancer screening, and sex education. You’ll notice I didn’t mention abortion in that list, by the way. And that’s because even though this attack is being characterized as an “anti-abortion” act, in fact the clinic that was attacked doesn’t provide abortion.
It’s tempting to write that off as just an error on the part of the arsonist. We’d all like to imagine that he’s just a very dumb guy who doesn’t realize he attacked a clinic that only provides well-woman care, STD testing and treatment, and contraception. But in fact, this fits into a larger pattern of anti-choice activists really amping up their game in fighting not just abortion access, but contraception access. A quick Google search demonstrates that this Planned Parenthood has been targeted by anti-choice protesters since 2008, even though it has never provided abortion. In other words, anti-choice protesters have stopped simply harassing women getting abortions, but have expanded toward harrassing women who want Pap smears and birth control pills, and probably some men looking for condoms and STD tests as well. North Texas clinics have had to suffer so many anti-contraception protesters that Planned Parenthood set up a “Pledge a Protester” event that helped pay for the very contraception the protesters object to. The presence of protesters ramps up the chances that a clinic will be targeted by terrorists, and so it comes as no surprise that as anti-choice protesters incorporate anti-contraception protesting into their routine, so will anti-choice terrorists. And if things keep going in the direction they’re going, I look forward to drug stores being protested for selling condoms, and perhaps even for selling tampons to unmarried women, thereby robbing their future husbands of the right to a completely untouched vagina.
The increasing volume of hostility toward not just abortion but contraception has moved from the fringe anti-choice movement to the mainstream right in the past year. Earlier this year, congressional Republicans attempted to shut down the federal government for the sole purpose of cutting off contraception subsidies to Planned Parenthood and other clinics whose patients rely on these subsidies for affordable birth control. And now that the Institute of Medicine has recommended that the HHS classify contraception as preventive care – making it available without a co-pay through your insurance – we’re seeing another anti-contraception freak out in right-wing media. Sandy Rios on Fox News boiled down the scintillating argument with, “let women stop having irresponsible sex. … Let’s stop making excuses and providing a way to get women out of trouble when they should be responsible in their behavior.” Personally, I would classify unprotected sex as “irresponsible” sex, but I’m guessing here that Rios is using a broader definition where any sex for pleasure instead of procreation, i.e. like 99% of sex, is “irresponsible.” This opinion was backed by Bill O’Reilly, who appears to believe women get pregnant not because they don’t have access to birth control, but because they’re too drunk to take their birth control pills or put in their IUDs while they’re having sex, which is a model of how contraception works that differs strongly from the instructions given to me by my gynecologist.