Commentary Media

Dear Mr. Beck: We Are All Hookers

Jodi Jacobson

Dear Mr. Beck: I understand it is your contention that "only hookers go to Planned Parenthood." There must be a lot of hookers out here.  I am one of them.

Dear Mr. Beck,

I understand it is your contention that “only hookers go to Planned Parenthood.”

There must be a lot of hookers out here. 

I am one of them.

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When I was in college, I went to a Planned Parenthood for a pelvic exam, and for my first contraceptive method.  I didn’t know then I was a hooker since I was in a serious relationship and it didn’t involve an exchange of money for sex, but I guess I must have been.  Young adults ages 18 to 24 years old make up more than 50 percent of the clientele of some Planned Parenthood clinics, such as those run by Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania.  You may be surprised to know that even the members and leadership of College Republicans at Pitt’s college use the services provided and felt that cutting funding for Planned Parenthood was and is “counterintuitive.”  But I guess by your definition, all of the hundreds of thousands of college students who receive affordable gynecological and reproductive health care, contraceptive supplies and expert medical advice every year at Planned Parenthood clinics are hookers.  Including those young Republicans.

Those college students, and millions of other men and women get access to affordable contraception every year through Planned Parenthood, without which there would be countless numbers of additional unintended pregnancies and abortions. I guess denying them those services by ridiculing both the providers and the clients would give you more to laugh about when talking on air about people’s very real need to manage their reproductive lives.  But then, they don’t deserve your respect, do they….because they are all “hookers.”

My aunt, who worked for years as a waitress to support three children after becoming a  widow at a young age, sought gynecological and related health services at a Planned Parenthood clinic.  I didn’t realize she was a hooker either.  If she were, she’d probably have made a lot more money than waiting tables for people, kinda like you, who thought they were better than struggling waitresses.  She never had the chance to make (a reported) $25 million per year using broadcast media acting like an undisciplined child, spreading lies and innuendo, and making fun of people who struggle for a living.  Then again, she had too much integrity to do the kinds of things you do.

In 2007, Planned Parenthood clinics provided 30,000 clients with the HPV vaccines proven effective against a virus known to cause cervical cancer.  Those clients probably didn’t know they were hookers, but I am pretty sure they are glad they are, so they could be protected from developing cervical cancer.  More than 12,000 women in the United States were diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2007 according to the Centers for Disease Control, and more than 4,000 of them died, leaving behind loving husbands, same-sex partners, their own mothers and fathers, children, nieces, nephews, friends and community.

These are women like Deb Zupke of Minnesota, a former Planned Parenthood patient.  She and her older sisters started going to Planned Parenthood in high school and college. As the daughters of a dairy farmer, she states: “We were not the richest people in town,” but the low-cost annual exams and contraception fit their budgets, she says. An exam at Planned Parenthood discovered one of her sisters had cervical cancer and, because it was caught in the early stages, her sister was treated successfully. Zupke stopped going to Planned Parenthood after she got a job with health insurance, but one older sister liked the clinic so much that she continued to use Planned Parenthood as her primary health care provider for years-until she was pregnant with her first (and planned) child.  

Lots of farmers are also hookers, it appears.

The accessibility of the pap smear–made widely available and accessible to low-income women by Planned Parenthood–has completely changed the landscape with regard to cervical cancer, which used to be one of the leading causes of death in women in the United States.  Planned Parenthood has greatly increased access to pap smears for African American women, who still die from cervical cancer at higher rates than women of other races.  But for the constant attacks on the organization such as you make, Planned Parenthood could further expand access to populations in need.  But since you so clearly deride all these hookers–whose welfare you otherwise lament when talking about the choices some might make to terminate a pregnancy and manage their lives–I am quite sure you don’t care about how they might access tests that might save their lives.

Then there are the 102,000-plus hookers who are men seeking reversible contraception who visited Planned Parenthood clinics in 2007.  A lot o’ male hookers gettin’ in the doors over there.

There are the older women who visit Planned Parenthood because on fixed incomes they can not possibly afford the health care they need, and so seek out Planned Parenthood clinics for help with concerns about breast health, menopause, blood pressure checks, diabetes testing and referrals they need to see a specialist.  We have no idea how many of these older “hookers” would be dead for lack of early detection of, say, breast cancer.  I am sure that their children and grandchildren are happy they are hookers, so they can access Planned Parenthood services and stay around to enjoy the next generation.  You might not agree.  To you, they are expendable, I guess, once they are no longer valuable to Koch Industries or other titans of commerce.

And finally, there are the “hooker’s hookers.” The women and men who are in fact sex workers.  They are, you might be surprised to know, human beings with health needs just like everyone else.  And they too seek out Planned Parenthood services for contraceptive supplies, HPV vaccines, breast exams and related needs. 

All of us make up those millions of hookers visiting Planned Parenthood every day.

Speaking for them, I’d venture to say that we are all glad to be hookers, by your definition.

At least we know which one of us is the real whore.

News Abortion

Anti-Choice Leader to Remove Himself From Medical Board Case in Ohio

Michelle D. Anderson

In a letter to the State of Ohio Medical Board, representatives from nine groups shared comments made by Gonidakis and said he lacked the objectivity required to remain a member of the medical board. The letter’s undersigned said the board should take whatever steps necessary to force Gonidakis’ resignation if he failed to resign.

Anti-choice leader Mike Gonidakis said Monday that he would remove himself from deciding a complaint against a local abortion provider after several groups asked that he resign as president of the State of Ohio Medical Board.

The Associated Press first reported news of Gonidakis’ decision, which came after several pro-choice groups said he should step down from the medical board because he had a conflict of interest in the pending complaint.

The complaint, filed by Dayton Right to Life on August 3, alleged that three abortion providers working at Women’s Med Center in Dayton violated state law and forced an abortion on a patient that was incapable of withdrawing her consent due to a drug overdose.

Ohio Right to Life issued a news release the same day Dayton Right to Life filed its complaint, featuring a quotation from its executive director saying that local pro-choice advocates forfeit “whatever tinge of credibility” it had if it refused to condemn what allegedly happened at Women’s Med Center.

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Gonidakis, the president of Ohio Right to Life, had then forwarded a copy of the news release to ProgressOhio Executive Director Sandy Theis with a note saying, “Sandy…. Will you finally repudiate the industry for which you so proudly support? So much for ‘women’s health’. So sad.”

On Friday, ProgressOhio, along with eight other groupsDoctors for Health Care Solutions, Common Cause Ohio, the Ohio National Organization for Women, Innovation Ohio, the Ohio House Democratic Women’s Caucus, the National Council of Jewish Women, Democratic Voices of Ohio, and Ohio Voice—responded to Gonidakis’ public and private commentary by writing a letter to the medical board asking that he resign.

In the letter, representatives from those groups shared comments made by Gonidakis and said he lacked the objectivity required to remain a member of the medical board. The letter’s undersigned said the board should take whatever steps necessary to force Gonidakis’ resignation if he failed to resign.

Contacted for comment, the medical board did not respond by press time.

The Ohio Medical Board protects the public by licensing and regulating physicians and other health-care professionals in part by reviewing complaints such as the one filed by Dayton Right to Life.

The decision-making body includes three non-physician consumer members and nine physicians who serve five-year terms when fully staffed. Currently, 11 citizens serve on the board.

Gonidakis, appointed in 2012 by Ohio Gov. John Kasich, is a consumer member of the board and lacks medical training.

Theis told Rewire in a telephone interview that the letter’s undersigned did not include groups like NARAL Pro-Choice and Planned Parenthood in its effort to highlight the conflict with Gonidakis.

“We wanted it to be about ethics” and not about abortion politics, Theis explained to Rewire.

Theis said Gonidakis had publicly condemned three licensed doctors from Women’s Med Center without engaging the providers or hearing the facts about the alleged incident.

“He put his point out there on Main Street having only heard the view of Dayton Right to Life,” Theis said. “In court, a judge who does something like that would have been thrown off the bench.”

Arthur Lavin, co-chairman of Doctors for Health Care Solutions, told the Associated Press the medical board should be free from politics.

Theis said ProgressOhio also exercised its right to file a complaint with the Ohio Ethics Commission to have Gonidakis removed because Theis had first-hand knowledge of his ethical wrongdoing.

The 29-page complaint, obtained by Rewire, details Gonidakis’ association with anti-choice groups and includes a copy of the email he sent to Theis.

Common Cause Ohio was the only group that co-signed the letter that is decidedly not pro-choice. A policy analyst from the nonpartisan organization told the Columbus Dispatch that Common Cause was not for or against abortion, but had signed the letter because a clear conflict of interest exists on the state’s medical board.

News Politics

Missouri ‘Witch Hunt Hearings’ Modeled on Anti-Choice Congressional Crusade

Christine Grimaldi

Missouri state Rep. Stacey Newman (D) said the Missouri General Assembly's "witch hunt hearings" were "closely modeled" on those in the U.S. Congress. Specifically, she drew parallels between Republicans' special investigative bodies—the U.S. House of Representatives’ Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives and the Missouri Senate’s Committee on the Sanctity of Life.

Congressional Republicans are responsible for perpetuating widely discredited and often inflammatory allegations about fetal tissue and abortion care practices for a year and counting. Their actions may have charted the course for at least one Republican-controlled state legislature to advance an anti-choice agenda based on a fabricated market in aborted “baby body parts.”

“They say that a lot in Missouri,” state Rep. Stacey Newman (D) told Rewire in an interview at the Democratic National Convention last month.

Newman is a longtime abortion rights advocate who proposed legislation that would subject firearms purchases to the same types of restrictions, including mandatory waiting periods, as abortion care.

Newman said the Missouri General Assembly’s “witch hunt hearings” were “closely modeled” on those in the U.S. Congress. Specifically, she drew parallels between Republicans’ special investigative bodies—the U.S. House of Representatives’ Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives and the Missouri Senate’s Committee on the Sanctity of Life. Both formed last year in response to videos from the anti-choice front group the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) accusing Planned Parenthood of profiting from fetal tissue donations. Both released reports last month condemning the reproductive health-care provider even though Missouri’s attorney general, among officials in 13 states to date, and three congressional investigations all previously found no evidence of wrongdoing.

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Missouri state Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R), the chair of the committee, and his colleagues alleged that the report potentially contradicted the attorney general’s findings. Schaefer’s district includes the University of Missouri, which ended a 26-year relationship with Planned Parenthood as anti-choice state lawmakers ramped up their inquiries in the legislature. Schaefer’s refusal to confront evidence to the contrary aligned with how Newman described his leadership of the committee.

“It was based on what was going on in Congress, but then Kurt Schaefer took it a step further,” Newman said.

As Schaefer waged an ultimately unsuccessful campaign in the Missouri Republican attorney general primary, the once moderate Republican “felt he needed to jump on the extreme [anti-choice] bandwagon,” she said.

Schaefer in April sought to punish the head of Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis affiliate with fines and jail time for protecting patient documents he had subpoenaed. The state senate suspended contempt proceedings against Mary Kogut, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, reaching an agreement before the end of the month, according to news reports.

Newman speculated that Schaefer’s threats thwarted an omnibus abortion bill (HB 1953, SB 644) from proceeding before the end of the 2016 legislative session in May, despite Republican majorities in the Missouri house and senate.

“I think it was part of the compromise that they came up with Planned Parenthood, when they realized their backs [were] against the wall, because she was not, obviously, going to illegally turn over medical records.” Newman said of her Republican colleagues.

Republicans on the select panel in Washington have frequently made similar complaints, and threats, in their pursuit of subpoenas.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), the chair of the select panel, in May pledged “to pursue all means necessary” to obtain documents from the tissue procurement company targeted in the CMP videos. In June, she told a conservative crowd at the faith-based Road to Majority conference that she planned to start contempt of Congress proceedings after little cooperation from “middle men” and their suppliers—“big abortion.” By July, Blackburn seemingly walked back that pledge in front of reporters at a press conference where she unveiled the select panel’s interim report.

The investigations share another common denominator: a lack of transparency about how much money they have cost taxpayers.

“The excuse that’s come back from leadership, both [in the] House and the Senate, is that not everybody has turned in their expense reports,” Newman said. Republicans have used “every stalling tactic” to rebuff inquiries from her and reporters in the state, she said.

Congressional Republicans with varying degrees of oversight over the select panel—Blackburn, House Speaker Paul Ryan (WI), and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton (MI)—all declined to answer Rewire’s funding questions. Rewire confirmed with a high-ranking GOP aide that Republicans budgeted $1.2 million for the investigation through the end of the year.

Blackburn is expected to resume the panel’s activities after Congress returns from recess in early September. Schaeffer and his fellow Republicans on the committee indicated in their report that an investigation could continue in the 2017 legislative session, which begins in January.

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