Who Owns the Bodies of Women of Color? [Reader Forum]

The GOP's set its sights on Planned Parenthood, and some of our country's most vulnerable women. Here's what you had to say about it.

By Channing Kennedy Feb 19, 2011

It’s been a long week. This week on Colorlines.com, we’ve heard about the effects of ICE raids on Idaho’s Latino schoolkids, we’ve illustrated the food industry’s astonishing race and gender wage gap, and we’ve asked why Brisenia Flores’ story is still unheard.

Also this week, we saw policy pushes with serious outcomes for women, especially women of color. Today, the House of Representatives passed legislation to defund Planned Parenthood and to deny Title X funds to any organization or facility providing abortion services — even though Title X funds are already barred from being used for abortion services. Though many doubt it’ll pass the Senate, it’s part of a larger campaign by the new Republican majority that they won’t abandon anytime soon.

On the writeup by our DC correspondent Shani O. Hilton, commenter prelz says:

"Currently, no federal funds go toward Planned Parenthood’s abortion operation, which makes up about three percent of all of the services it provides. According to Planned Parenthood’s annual report, about 86 percent of the organization’s work is providing contraception, STD testing and treatment, and cancer screenings."

So many of my friends and family have used their services for routine health treatment. Affordable and more extensive screenings than most obgyns.

(…) I understand that some people may be upset by the abortion part…but come on, so many people use them for their regular old obgyn services. Their clinics are so much better and more affordable then regular doctors’ offices and the physicians are much better informed. Seems like the senators that are voting on all of this stuff probably don’t realize that a good many of their daughters and women family members use this organization’s standard services all the time.

And via Akiba Solomon’s Gender Matters column, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wisconsin) ethers the oft-repeated right-wing claim that Planned Parenthood is some sort of modern-day eugenics movement. "I can tell you I know a lot about having black babies. I’ve had three of them," she says, and the rest is just as must-listen.

Our own Tammy Johnson takes some of the credit, and rightly so:

Oh hitting the "like" button isn’t enough for this one! I’m proud to say that when I was an organizer in Milwaukee, I worked hard to get then State Representative Gwen Moore elected and repeatedly, re-elected. This is why we should fight hard to get the right people in office. So that they can stand up in the halls of power and tell the truth and shame every devil sitting there waiting to vote against, women, families and people of color. You go Congresswoman Moore! Represent!

For more firsthand testimonials about how Planned Parenthood has provided a range of services from all walks of life, check out the #thanksPPFA hashtag on Twitter.

Akiba also introduces us to some willful nonsense by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) and Fox News contributor Sandy Rios. It seems First Lady Michelle Obama recently gave a shoutout to breastfeeding black moms and the workplaces that support them — and it was framed as, of course, nanny-state reverse racism.

In the comments, Denene objects:

My God, what is wrong with people? So now it’s a BAD thing to encourage women to give the healthiest, least expensive, most beneficial food a mother can give to her baby–and make it so that she can do so while she’s slaving for The Man? I swear, Bachmann and and Rios DISGUST me. And I’m so glad to be counted among the African American mothers online who are speaking up, encouraging our sister mothers to breastfeed, and rallying against the ignorance of the likes of Bachmann and Rios, who CLEARLY don’t give a rat’s ass about women, mothers or babies–especially the ones who look like mine.

And kteachums speaks from experience as well:

I am not black and I breastfed my last two babies and bottle fed my first two. It would be nice to have laws that would allow women to pump their milk on the job. I was fortunate because I teach school and I worked with another lady who would cover for me while I pumped. The first lady is wonderful and has sponsored many nice initiatives. She is correct about breastmilk; it is healthier for the child.

And on Twitter, @soulamami adds some systemic context:

I applaud the Breastfeeding is a Black Thing op-ed, but it misses one important point: 40% of Black women don’t even attempt to breastfeed, yet WIC is set up to hand out formula like it’s candy rather than encourage. The Right complains about getting poor/Black people off the gubment tit, so they should be 1st in line behind FLOTUS. BFing is free!


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