The Lions and Lambs of March

March began by roaring in like a righteous she-lion with #MeToo at the Oscars, and Oprah's speech about the loud collapse of dozens of male bullies. These included two at the White House who resigned when a photo of an ex-wife with a black eye punctured their collective male denial of their crimes against women. Yet March showed no sign of leaving like a lamb.

All month we endured more stories of women’s bodies claimed as sexual property, bought and paid for—sued and countersued over then-candidate Trump’s affairs.  Pay-off money and unkept business deals to silence women before the election is part of that news-roar. A Playboy bunny and a porn star, young enough to be Trump’s daughter, both alleged that before sex he admired them for being as smart and beautiful as his daughter—ee-yew! http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/stormy-trump-compared-daughter-sex-article-1.3895543

NBC’s Heidi Przbyla and other women journalists have lately brought to the forefront a lamb that hasn’t gotten as much attention. Quieter, it bleats another tale of young female bodies treated as property. In mid-February, Planned Parenthood joined with eight local government, healthcare, and advocacy groups to sue Trump’s HHS (Health & Human Services). The Washington Post reported $220 million in sudden cuts to a reauthorized national Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, despite evidence it was working. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2018/02/15/planned-parenthood-sues-trump-administration-for-ending-grants-to-teen-pregnancy-programs/?utm_term=.0ed6cb57010b

Reporter Przbyla found the program, begun in 2010, had bipartisan support in Congress and had trained more than 7,000 health professionals and supported 3,000 community-based organizations. The result, reported most recently in 2017, was record lows in US teen pregnancy and birth rates.  http://time.com/4843652/teen-birth-rates-record-low/

Damningly, and in keeping with Trump cuts in other programs benefiting women and children, she reported that experienced female administrators at HHS had been kept out of the decision-making loop and were told to “get in line.” Cuts came down by command from Steven Valentine, an anti-abortion abstinence activist put in charge of HHS family planning.  One administrator said she was “so rattled” that “my reaction when I got on the phone was to cry.”

But now picture her singing along with that old song of Helen Reddy’s: I am woman, hear me roar! Because a week after Przbyla’s story came out, HHS withdrew some of its cuts. And I suspect women aren’t done yet with evidence-based programs that work to prevent teenaged pregnancies. We're just done with protection of outdated male claims on women’s bodies and decisions.