No-one likes a bully, and most Americans have experienced the bullying tactics of using force, threats, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate other, seemingly weaker individuals. As sociologists note, bullying behavior is often repeated and habitual based on the perception, by the bully or the victim, of an imbalance of social or physical power, which distinguishes bullying from conflict. One of the most recent examples of bullying that is anything but a two-sided conflict is the religious conservative movement’s incessant attacks on American women’s constitutional right to choose their own reproductive health.
Religious Republicans have made bullying Planned Parenthood, the organization providing family planning assistance to predominately low-income men and women, their cause célèbre as of late. It is not that the organization has been immune from Republican bullies in the past, they have not, but as theocrats are gaining power in Washington, and anti-choice activists have become more proficient in creating heavily-edited videos, Planned Parenthood is one of every Republican bully’s favorite targets. However, like any person that is bullied relentlessly, Planned Parenthood apparently has had enough and is fighting back against Republican theocrats and they are hitting Louisiana Governor Piyush ‘Bobby’ Jindal in a place he is used to getting hit; in federal court.
Planned Parenthood filed a federal lawsuit to stop Jindal’s dangerous and barbaric religious agenda that eliminates Planned Parenthood health centers from Louisiana’s Medicaid program. According to Planned Parenthood, Piyush is putting politics before thousands of Louisiana’s residents’ health and lives it claims will eliminate access to mostly poor people’s trusted health care provider. Republican theocrats in other states such as New Hampshire, Alabama, and Utah are “pushing the same agenda” regardless that it is blatantly illegal. There is one point that Planned Parenthood is wrong about and they are well aware of their error. It is not “politics,” or as President Obama noted “ideology” driving the Republican bullying against Planned Parenthood, contraception coverage, or any aspect of women’s choice. It is religion and nothing else. It still boggles the mind that everyone under the Sun is terrified of saying it out loud because there is this bizarre perception that the greatest mortal sin any American can commit is uttering the truth or criticizing anything about this country’s bastardized version of Christianity and Republican attempts to rule by theocracy.
When Piyush Jindal announced he unilaterally, and religiously, ended the state’s Medicaid contract with Planned Parenthood, he said it was in response to a completely fabricated anti-abortion “sting” video against the reproductive health service. Piyush the Christian said, “In recent weeks, it has been shocking to see reports of the alleged activities taking place at Planned Parenthood facilities across the country. Planned Parenthood does not represent the values of the people of Louisiana and shows a fundamental disrespect for human life.” As an aside, Jindal shows a fundamental disrespect for human lives by refusing to expand Medicaid in Louisiana and purposely preventing tens-of-thousands of Louisiana residents from having access to healthcare.
If Piyush was a tenth of the Christian he claims to be, and he is not any kind of Christian, he would be aware that his very own precious bible’s god said there is no human life, or no “living being” until a fetus exits the mother’s womb and breathes air of its own accord. He would also not violate the ninth commandment and be a rank liar regarding “human life” he says Planned Parenthood “shows a fundamental disrespect for.” Jindal is well aware that the only two Planned Parenthood clinics in the entire state of Louisiana do not provide abortion services. They do provide cancer screenings for poor men and women, offer family planning and counseling services, as well as assistance with birth control options, but Jindal is a typical Christian bully using his political office to punish thousands of poor Louisiana residents by completely cutting off access to family planning assistance; to force them to become either celibate or perpetual birth machines.
Jindal, like all other GOP theocrats, is aware that the so-called “shocking videos” his fellow evangelicals are using to bully Planned Parenthood are bogus; how could he not? Particularly after the despicable anti-women and anti-abortion extremists releasing them have already acknowledged that their heavily edited videos included false and misleading information. In fact, the evidence is so overwhelming the videos are fake that four members of Congress, Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) submitted a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and California Attorney General Kamala Harris demanding an investigation into anti-abortion groups that may have violated state or federal laws to give Republicans bullies ammunition to attack Planned Parenthood, and by extension America women. Representative Schakowsky said, “This is a new low, even for anti-abortion activists who stop at nothing to undermine a woman’s right to choose. I believe they broke the law in developing and executing this unbelievably elaborate and troubling scheme, and all Americans should have concerns about that.”
Schakowsky should be emboldened that a majority of Americans are concerned that Republicans are attacking Planned Parenthood. In four states with Republican Senators seeking to use budget and debt ceiling blackmail to put an end to Planned Parenthood, overwhelming majorities of voters support the organization and oppose religious Republican efforts to defund the organization; particularly using the threat of a government shutdown if they cannot deny women, and men, access to family planning services and cancer screenings.
It is probably the case that Planned Parenthood, like many American women and possibly the men who love them, are just sick to death of being bullied by religious Republicans who oppose women as a matter of course. In Jindal’s case, the unilateral tactic of prohibiting Medicaid patients from having access to Planned Parenthood is illegal. Medicaid is federal funding and Piyush does not have authority to dictate to Louisiana residents who they can, or cannot, seek medical or family planning assistance from.
As Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood said, these bullying tactics and religious attacks have nothing to do with helping women any more than they are about improving healthcare service for Americans; particularly poor women in Louisiana. In the state Piyush Jindal is working tirelessly to keep pace with Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, “6 in 10 pregnancies are unplanned” and over 320,000 women desperately need access to affordable contraceptive services and supplies. Richards writes what many Americans already understand about religious Republicans; “They are abusing their power to stand between women and their doctors,” but she is wrong in saying “the attacks are about one thing only; playing politics. They are playing theocrats and like tyrannical religious leaders are wont to do, they are deliberately and with malice aforethought “punishing women, men, and families as part of a coordinated attack on Planned Parenthood” but more specifically they are attacking women.
It is long past due for Planned Parenthood, women, and Democrats to stand up to religious bullies who have enjoyed unfettered freedom assailing women’s constitutional right to choose their own reproductive health. It has been decades since the woman’s movement stood up to misogynists’ and patriarchs’ and beat back their efforts to continue controlling their reproductive health choices, and although it is an abomination they have to stand up to the same bullies again, it is time for them to beat down these punk-ass religious Republicans for good; even if it is in federal court. However, they have to address this bullying for what it really is and stop saying it is “playing politics” or “social conservative ideology;” it is the worst kind of religious tyranny. Until women, women’s advocates, cowardly men, politicians, and Planned Parenthood start decrying the unconstitutional imposition of religion on American women, the religious Republicans will continue bullying American men’s wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers with impunity.