While I haven’t been able to find any official Episcopal Church response to the Komen-Planned Parenthood dustup, the head of the Episcopal Women’s Caucus took to the Intertubes yesterday in a piece published by the Episcopal News Service. The Rev. Elizabeth Kaeton sees this as part of a “war on women”:
There is an undeclared war on women in this country and around the world.
That war would have to do with the fact that girls are far more likely to be chosen for abortions than boys, right? Fat chance.
No one from the Komen Foundation is talking, but from the buzz on the Internet, hundreds of thousands of people – men and women – are pledging not to support the efforts of the organization that made pink ribbons an outward and visible sign of the “race for the cure” to end breast cancer.
So the war on women has to do with people withdrawing their support from the foremost private supplier of funds for breast cancer research, right? Guess again:
That battle was won but the war is far from over. The reproductive rights of women are under sharp attack from the religious and political forces of the evangelical right, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party. The battle plan is patently clear: limit women’s access to abortion, birth control, and services after rape and sexual assault by changing laws, state by state, and ensure that government funding is not delivered to any agency that supports reproductive rights in any way. Do this with a ballot in one hand and a Bible in the other. And when you don’t get what you want, cry “religious intolerance.”
So in Kaeton’s world, the “war on women” has to do pretty much exclusively with any conceivable limitation that could be put on the sacrament of abortion. Got it.
On another front, human trafficking is a mega-billion dollar global industry unregulated by any country or international body. It is a criminal activity ignored and/or tolerated with devastating consequences for the person involved. Trafficking ranks just behind drug and arms trading as the most lucrative forms of commerce. It is no surprise that the vast majority of trafficked persons are women and children. Nor is it any shock that most of those who do the trafficking are men.
What this has to do with the other is mystifying. I am in complete accord, I expect, with Kaeton regarding the horrors of human trafficking, but it is hardly the case that it is “unregulated by any country or international body.” Internationally, there is the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, which went into force in December 2003 and has been ratified by 117 countries, including the United States (November 2005). And human trafficking is illegal in most of the world (though the Episcopal Church can be heard speaking out in favor of it–or at least opposed to doing anything much to stop it–when it involves bringing immigrants illegally into the United States from Mexico). That human trafficking is frequently “ignored and/or tolerated” is certainly true, but that doesn’t mean the international community–with some notable exceptions, such as Thailand, a center of the sex trade, which has yet to ratify the accord–hasn’t acted.
The violence continues unabated. A report released in late December 2011 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that one in four women in the United States suffers “severe physical violence,” and one in five is raped at some time in their life. Millions of women are suffering serious violence quietly at any time.
According to another CDC survey, four women die because of domestic violence every day in the United States of America. For every woman who dies, hundreds keep suffering without any recourse, without any letup in violence. They remain alive, but are not “living” by any dignified definition of the word.
See, to Kaeton opposition to abortion isn’t a valid moral perspective. It’s more like rape, or spousal abuse, or human trafficking.
The recent battle between Komen vs. Planned Parenthood gives us many insights on how women and men of quality can fight back for equality. The fatal flaw in the Komen battle plan was to consider Planned Parenthood just another organization. It is not. It is what it always has been: a movement. Organizations are fine. Movements are better.
Yes sir, Komen surely has learned a lesson, as have the rest of us: oppose Planned Parenthood and the Church of Abortion, as served by the likes of Elizabeth Kaeton, and you will be libeled, slandered, misrepresented, and delegitimized no matter how good anything else you do is.