“It’s not a good sign when the pilot aborts the takeoff,” said the woman sitting next to me on a recent flight east from Denver. Herself a pilot, she told me to settle in for a long delay and popped a Gummi Bear into her mouth as we taxied back to the gate after a brief sprint down the runway.

It was something about the jet’s two engines not being in sync, the captain mumbled over the intercom. For our safety, “I aborted the takeoff,” he said. Hours later on a different plane, we landed in Boston as the sun began to rise.

Unless you are a pilot or a conservative Republican, “abort” isn’t a word typically used in everyday conversation, but this week Planned Parenthood stood trial in the U.S. House of Representatives and the federal government almost shut down because of it.

The fierce aggression toward Planned Parenthood by House Republicans is nothing more than an expression of their gender bias couched in politically correct terms. This isn’t a battle about funding 700 health clinics; it’s a different kind of war.

Republican congressmen from states like Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Maine are outraged that Planned Parenthood legally provides health care to millions of people. What they and their brethren really deplore is audacious women who decide to exercise their constitutional rights.

If “innocent life” is what these lawmakers care about, then why aren’t they shutting down the government over the alarming rate of poor babies dying in their states? More infants die in Mississippi and Alabama than in places like Lebanon, Botswana and Bahrain. The U.S. infant mortality rate overall for those living in poverty is twice as high as the countries of Finland, the Czech Republic and Portugal.

Who decided rich babies should live while poor babies die in America?

I don’t pretend to know when life begins, but I do know God and men routinely abort it. What distinguishes abortion from war, stand-your-ground laws, abject poverty, miscarriage and natural disasters is that a woman is the decider, and “constitutionalist” Republican House members believe this particular decision is above her pay grade – one that, by the way, is 26 percent lower than men’s.

A religious belief that the body is a vessel for a soul that never dies is deserving of recognition under the Constitution equal to any other religious creed. The belief that consciousness is without beginning or end and that women have capacity to communicate directly with God about decisions whether to abort a pregnancy for health reasons or her own safety is as righteous as any right-wing sermon to the contrary on the floor of the U.S. House.

One person’s constitutional right to abort a pregnancy does not interfere with another’s protected and profound decision not to.

It is only when women and men have equal rights and opportunity and share equally the privileges of political power that the rate of abortion in the United States will be reduced. Health, safety and economic security are part of any sound decision-making process, including the decision to abort.

Who decided that America would be the only industrialized country not to offer paid leave for the birth of a child? Surely the 84 percent of members of Congress and 95 percent of the CEOs who sponsor them – who are men – had something to do with it.

Who decided the minimum wage would stay at $7.25 per hour, or that the cash wage for tipped workers would stay at $2.13 for almost 25 years, when nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women?

Isn’t the self-righteous crowd deriding women’s lawful decisions to abort a pregnancy the same policy-makers who decided more than 15 million American children will go to bed hungry tonight?

More than 20 percent of American kids live in poverty, while the country’s top 400 wealth earners report an average income of over $300 million and pay less than 17 percent of their adjusted gross income in taxes. Who’s decision was that?

Important decisions about life are made in America every day, but only when it’s women making them do ultra-conservatives wring their hands and stomp their feet and try to shut down the government.

If “pro-life” Republicans want fewer abortions, they have decisions of their own to work out.

Every woman is the captain of her own ship – the pilot of her own plane – and equipped to make decisions about the health, safety and security of herself and any passengers.

Cynthia Dill is a civil rights lawyer and former state senator. She can be contacted at:

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Twitter: dillesquire