On Monday, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will debate for the first time. In honor of this historic occasion, we’re bringing you a special Trump-Free Edition of the Friday Femorandum, and holding our breath for Monday, when we boldly predict that one of the candidates will be thoroughly prepped with zingy comebacks and comprehensive policy prescriptions, and the other will rely on juvenile insults and attacks and attempt to belittle their opponent with innuendo and insinuation whenever they can’t come up with a substantive response. Just a hunch.
The Congressional Committee for the Harassment of Women continued its kangaroo-court “hearings” on Planned Parenthood this week, long after the illegally obtained, fraudulently edited videos that prompted its creation had been thoroughly discredited. The panel, whose actual name of course includes the word “babies,” is now attempting to hold the stem-cell research company StemExpress, which was the target of video espionage by anti-choice activists last year, in contempt of court for refusing to hand over personal information about its staff, the names of its customers, and its banking records.
StemExpress has good reason not trust the committee to safeguard information about who works there, information that could subject employees to threats and harassment. The committee promises it will “redact” all names and identifying personal information once it gets that names list in its hot little hands, but that promise isn’t worth the thin air it’s written on: The last time the committee got a list of names, of researchers and Planned Parenthood staffers, it promptly posted them on the committee’s website.
At any rate, the zealots’ absurd demands prompted all the Democrats on the committee to walk out on the proceedings Wednesday, refusing to participate in what ranking member Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) called an “illegitimate and unsanctioned effort” to harass scientists. The committee failed in its original effort to justify defunding Planned Parenthood, and is engaging in increasingly desperate witch hunts to attempt to prove any wrongdoing by the organization, which provides basic health care to millions of low-income women across the country.
Texas, whose unconstitutional Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws got struck down by the Supreme Court earlier this year, isn’t budging in its efforts to regulate abortion out of existence. As you may recall, the state adopted rules requiring women who have abortions to also hold funerals for their embryos (usurping the normal practice of disposing them as medical waste), a law designed expressly to make abortions more expensive. The law requires the individual burial or cremation of all fetal remains, inclu ding the products of miscarriage, regardless of the period of gestation. Translation: If you abort a fetus the size of a peanut, or have a miscarriage, you have to pay for its “funeral,” a macabre imposition that artificially inflates the cost of ending a pregnancy (potentially by thousands of dollars) and forces women for whom abortion is an emotionally fraught decision to “pay” for their choice by going through a farcically cruel process.
According to the Texas Tribune, the rules mandating fetal funerals “are likely to be challenged in court.”
In other news, legendary feminist Katha Pollitt continues to be brilliant, appearing in Colorado this week to discuss (and dispel) some of the more persistent myths surrounding abortion, the myth that there are “too many abortions,” the myth that opposing abortion is not about punishing women, and the myth that abortion is “racist.” On that point, Pollitt says, “If these people cared about the rate of abortion in black communities, they would be pushing for good health care in black communities, including good access to reproductive health care, good methods of birth control that really work. Black women have more pregnancies than white women because they have less access to good health care and less access to effective birth control.”
Finally, Hillary Clinton gave a landmark address about expanding access to jobs and opportunities to people with disabilities and released a comprehensive plan to tackle poverty this week. Neither of them got much coverage, because OMG WAS THAT A COUGH?! IS HILLARY TOO WEAK TO BE PRESIDENT? etc. Both plans are worth a read, and both have their skeptics within the progressive community.