Sexual Blackmail & Congress


I came of age during the Sexual Revolution and before AIDS.

We had garden-variety STDs but this was the age of disco, the age of the Pill and even the sponge. It was okay to come home with something that could be treated with an antibiotic, but not to come home pregnant. I didn’t have the time or the money – especially the money – to get pregnant.

So I was a frequent customer to the little Planned Parenthood clinic because there was no way I could afford a fancy gynecologist. The exams and the prescriptions were like gold. I think I may have visited Planned Parenthood more than I stopped in at the college library.

And now, many members of Congress are using the selectively edited video of Planned Parenthood executives as a rallying cry to defund the organization. Many of these members have never have resigned themselves to the fact that abortion is legal. They may even shut down the federal government this week to prove their point.

But this isn’t a blog about abortion.

This is a blog about the health of a young person, a person who didn’t have loving parents to fall back on if she got in a jam. A young person who is not me, but who could have been.

This is a blog about the 400,000 Pap tests and 500,000 breast exams conducted every year to prevent cancer.

It’s about the 4.5 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted diseases, many far more deadly than the garden variety from my youth.

It’s not a blog about abortion, because only 3% of all the stuff Planned Parenthood does is abortions.

It’s not a blog about the 3%. It’s a blog about the 80% who receive services to prevent unintended pregnancies. That’s about 516,000 pregnancies a year. That’s 516,000 times no one even had to discuss whether to have an abortion.

And that’s why Planned Parenthood shouldn’t be part of this Congressional blackmail.




They say that everyone has a doppelganger, a twin somewhere out there in the world.

And, recently, I read a news story about a woman who found hers, using a web site that can help you find the one person who shares your face, assuming he or she is looking for you too.

Curious, I click through. You describe the shape of your face, your eyes, your mouth. You upload a photo. The site scans all the photos in its database to find a match. How cool that there could be another me out there! I start to fill out the form.

And then I hesitate.

Because, I have always reveled in my uniqueness. My features are a mashup of my parents’. My mother’s eyes, my father’s jawline. As an only child, I have always liked not having to share anything, not even my facial features, with a sibling whose existence might force me to share attention. Do I really want to find out that what’s mine, all mine…isn’t?

I am not the only one operating on the assumption that I am unique. MasterCard is experimenting with letting you charge purchases using facial recognition technology because it assumes that your selfie is your identity. But what if someone else out there can match up to your selfie? Could they take over your bank account?

It brings it into the realm of science fiction, or Mission Impossible, to imagine someone using your face to live your life.

So, to my twin out there in the universe, I apologize. Because, with one reassuring look in the mirror at my own reflection, I click off the site. And I won’t be returning.