Thursday, May 02, 2013

Black Female Lawmakers Walk Out After White Republican Spews Racism And Misogyny

November 2014 elections can’t come soon enough. More and more of our tax dollars get spent on GOP efforts to hack away at women’s rights, specifically women’s reproductive rights, and now, specifically, black women’s reproductive rights. My blood runs hot with this one.
This is the story of a white, male, Florida lawmaker who thinks he knows more about what’s best for black women and their reproductive choices than they do. He’s ‘concerned,’ bless his little heart.House Bill 845, sponsored by Rep. Charles Van Zant (R-Keystone Heights), would make it a third-degree felony in Florida to perform an abortion based on the race or gender of the fetus. What? When did that become a problem? The unstated insult here is that a white male baby would never be aborted because of its race or gender so we have to keep an eye on women, particularly black women. You know, just in case.
First of all, If these politicians feel so concerned about women, why are they not promoting bills that would help women economically — equal pay for instance. Or how about making contraceptives free, and accessible to all, so  there would be less unintended pregnancies and thus fewer abortions. Then we can stop all introducing all of theseridiculous bills and move on to laws that would actually benefit the citizens.
While advocating for the GOP’s anti-choice bill on Thursday, Van Zant said black women were being targeted by those nasty pro-abortion organizations with harmful intent. Though, he didn’t say it like that. He said it like this:
In America alone, without the Nazi holocaust, without the Ku Klux clan (sic), Planned Parenthood, and other abortionists have reduced our black population by more than 25 percent since 1973. This is called discriminatory targeting,” Van Zant said, according to a report by the Tampa Bay Times. Van Zant claimed “race and sex selection abortion is prevalent throughout America, including Florida,” without specifying his sources.
Is your blood boiling too? It’s no surprise to hear that four black female lawmakers walked out. I truly admire them. And I’m amazed at what comes out of mouths of these white GOP men. Rep. Barbara Watson (D-Miami) made this statement:
“I don’t appreciate anyone trying to explain what any other ethnic group’s lifestyle is and what they do, when you really don’t have any authority to interpret it,” Watson, one of the black lawmakers who walked out, told The Huffington Post. ”I think the women and people of color in that chamber deserve an apology from him, but I don’t know that it would actually change his point of view.”
Here’s the video: 
Van Zant’s statements were also quickly refuted by Rebecca Wind of the Guttmacher Institute. 
“In fact, fewer than one in ten abortion clinics are located in predominantly African-American neighborhoods,” Wind wrote in an email to theGrio, referencing a 2011 study by her organization. “More than six out of ten are in majority-white neighborhoods.”
Planned Parenthood stated:
“Florida legislators should stop playing politics with women’s health care and work toward common sense, compassionate solutions that expand access to care and create stronger, healthier families,” Judith Selzerthe vice president for public policy of Planned Parenthood said, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Planned Parenthood also issued a release stating the organization “opposes racism and sexism in all forms” and “condemns sex selection motivated by gender or racial bias.” (How did I know that already?)
This was the third abortion-related bill to pass in the Florida House within days. 
“It just drives me crazy that so many of these bills are brought up by men,” Rep. Richard Stark (D-Weston) said, according to an MSN News report. “We have no idea what it’s like to be pregnant.”
Alas, some sanity. I’d like to hug Richard Stark. For now, I’ll honor him and the lawmakers who walked on Van Zant’s speech, by remembering and sharing their names.
If you’d like to send Rep. Charles E. Van Zant a few sentenceswith your honest thoughts about his speech, click here to send him an email or call his Florida Capitol Office: 1.850.717.5019

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