Girlie, want a cookie? Umm, No. How about some reproductive rights?

August 2, 2013Carole 2 Comments »

I live in the beautiful state of North Carolina. I moved here two years ago, thinking that North Carolina was a lovely mix of Southern charm with Northern progressive politics, the perfect world. Then the GOP swept both houses and the governor’s office as well. In the last six months, we have seen a tidal wave of conservative legislation since the election, described as a ” breath taking agenda”  in this article.  Nothing has been spared: education, voting rights, the environment, and of course, reproductive rights. North Carolina is now one of those states that has passed laws that superficially claim to be for the benefit of women while actually restricting access to Planned Parenthood services.

You may think it odd that someone who cares so deeply about helping women have babies is equally committed to preserving the rights to have an abortion. I wrote about this in a previous post. For me, women have an equal right to determine how and when they reproduce, whether it is by using technology to become pregnant in the first place, and yes, by terminating a pregnancy for their own reasons.  My view is that you really can’t support one right without the other. Don’t get me wrong. I would love for abortion to be an incredibly rare event but it is not for me to decide for anyone else when they need an abortion for medical, psychological or emotional reasons.

So for weeks now, protesters have been gathering in Raleigh for Moral Monday protests of the new GOP agenda. Hundreds of people have been arrested for remaining in the courthouse after police have asked them  to leave.  On Monday, the governor signed a bill requiring additional Planned Parenthood facility upgrades to match what is required of outpatient surgery centers which supporters say are necessary for safety, but opponents say are simply a thinly veiled move to shut down all these clinics. Closing clinics looks suspiciously political when 3 clinics in NC have been closed in the last three months. Previously, under the same laws, only two clinics were closed in the last 14 years. With these new aggressive standards, it’s hard to imagine that the closure rate will not increase even more. In addition, the anti-abortion bill Senate Bill 353, allows health care providers to opt out of performing an abortion if it’s against their beliefs (I have never worked at a hospital that forced docs -or nurses- to do any medical procedure against their morals so this seems like a solution looking for a problem) and stops government insurance plans from paying for the procedure (a obvious preemptive strike against possible coverage through Obamacare).  The governor was literally signing the bill into law while Planned Parenthood supporters were protesting the bill in front of his gated mansion, holding up signs and chanting. Shortly after signing the bill, he waved to the protestors from his window. Protestors were dismayed because the governor had previously promised that he wouldn’t sign any bills that would further restrict access to abortion in NC.

The protestors have been asking to meet with the governor to deliver a petition with 35,000 signatures asking him to refrain from signing the bill but had been repeatedly rebuffed. On Tuesday, 17 protestors continued their protests for a second day outside his mansion when a strange thing happened. The governor escorted by four body guards –count ’em four!- bodyguards brought out a plate of chocolate chip cookies and gave them to the 17 protesters outside, saying “These are for you. God bless you. God Bless you. God Bless you.” Rather than discussing their concerns, he hurried back inside with his bodyguards, leaving one protestor in the middle of the street holding the cookies, looking stunned. The protestors were not impressed by this gesture that was taken to be either tone deaf  or  condescending. The protestors returned the plate with cookies but added a note that said , “We want women’s healthcare, not cookies”.  They they started chanting, “That was rude, you wouldn’t give cookies to a dude”. Giving concerned citizens cookies, instead of dialogue about their concerns, was what was disrespectful, regardless of the gender of the citizen.

Columnist Barry Saunders wrote about the cookie stunt in “C is for cookie and condescension” . He wondered idly if ” the governor, looking out the window and seeing that some of the women were dressed in early 1960s-era styles, concluded that polemic political activists had reverted to compliant, cookie-baking June Cleavers?” Perhaps the governor was telling the protestors ” “Now, this is how you bake a cookie, Cookie.”

Here’s the problem. When politicians who are mainly men decide what is best for women, that can’t go well. When they make assumptions that a conciliatory gesture is a plate of cookies, instead of a respectful conversation with their female citizens, that’s a problem. If Governor McCrory had come outside, with or without cookies, and pulled up a chair to speak with his female constituents about what motivated them to stand outside for 12 hours on two days, now THAT would have meant something. I hope that NC women will remember this incident at the polls. The governor and the GOP showed a truly dismissive attitude toward the real concerns of women, assuming that women, like children, can be distracted with sweets. Let them eat cake.

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Read more here: them eat cake.


© 2013, Carole. All rights reserved.

2 Responses to this entry

  • Anonymous Says:


    I am desperate for a child, but I’ve terminated two pregnancies because of trisomy 22. I think many people think of abortion as young nymphs being irresponsible and having abortions as birth control. I would never judge anyone regardless if they are young and irresponsible. I don’t live that person’s life and will never judge another person’s choices. However, I am not young and irresponsible. I have a chromosome defect. This defect results mainly in miscarriages but also can be a pregnancy that will result in stillbirth or a child that lives for a few hours in pain with a trisomy. I have also tried to be “more responsible” by doing PGD and IVF. However, I cannot seem to get any of my embryos to grow to day 5 in the lab. I still want a child. However, I may still need to have an abortion if Trisomy 22 happens again. I’ve talked to many women who’ve had to terminate for medical reasons. If you talk to them, they’ll admit they were extremely pro-life until their baby was diagnosed with a terminal problem in utero. It’s easy to sit on the outside and have a lot of assumptions about abortion. It’s important that abortion remain legal.

  • Carole Says:

    Dear Anonymous,
    Thank you for sharing your story. You make some excellent points. I am so sorry for your losses and I wish you MUCH GOOD LUCK for a term pregnancy and healthy baby in the future!! All the best, Carole

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