When I was 19 0r 20, I had a shirt that stated, in big neon letters, U.S. OUT OF MY UTERUS, across a picture of the womb. I went with friends to Pro-Choice rallies that celebrated the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, granting women the right to choose – we couldn’t fathom a time when free and safe access to abortion was illegal. We never had to worry about whether we would have access to women’s reproductive care. My husband and I were able to choose when we had our children, when we could afford to raise our amazing kids. The bumper sticker on my car for years has been “Pro-Child, Pro-Family, Pro-Choice,” and I keep extras in the glove box to give out to anyone who would like one. We had no doubt that my daughter, and my son, would grow up in a world that respected the reproductive rights and, more important, the reproductive privacy of women (Grizwold v. Connecticut).
Now here we are, in 2012. The rallies I attended have become a thing of the past as a generation of us grew up and had our own daughters and sons, all of us never having to worry about the right to choose, the right to plan our families, and living in a world where we and our daughters and sons have never had to worry about access to birth control and reproductive services. A generation has grown up with choice, health care and even, if not complete, fair access to Plan B. Then, over the last year or two, the tendrils of the Religious Right began to creep into our political landscape. Right wing religious zealots began assaults and assassinations of abortion providers. Personhood amendments started to appear. “Kill The Pill” movements sprouted up. And of course, Dr. Tiller was killed
The GOP was uncharisteristically silent on this one.
And then our President passed Health Care Reform, and its benefits slowly came into play. People began to benefit from it, the whole “Obamacare” line became old as people were affected positively by the effects of the Health Care Reform Act. Most recently, provisions of the act required that insurance companies cover birth control in the same way they cover Viagra. And the GOP went ballistic. Why now?
Because the Republicans haven’t got a leg to stand on in order to win this race, especially when it comes to the economy. Stay with me here…I know it seems a bit obscure, but give me a chance here. With 23 months of growth in jobs and unemployment shrinking, the Republicans have changed gears. They started the year with the economy, with the old “Are you better off now…” line that usually works when the economy is down are no longer in play. It just doesn’t work with economic recovery happening, with GM workers receiving $7000 checks as their employers reach record profits.
And with the old standby of gay marriage, well, that’s not playing as well as it used to, either. With eight states legalizing marriage equality, several more recognizing those marriages, Prop. 8 on its way to the Supreme Court, the court of public opinion swings away from the “man and a woman” argument, well, the number of folks who get stirred up by this rhetoric is shrinking by the day.
So, what’s a Conservative to do? They begin trumping up the Culture Wars, God, guns and gays, and they just aren’t playing in Peoria like they used to…they can’t run on their old tried and true standbys. And so they resort to the biggie, the play that they know will always bring along the base, playing to religious guilt: abortion.
Suddenly, all of the tendrils of the anti-choice movement appear in the Republican playbook. The Republican frontrunners are talking about Personhood amendments, eliminating hormonal birth control, and now, eliminating all birth control,using the birth control provision in the health care law an excuse for going to extremes.
The Republican-held House held a panel this week to discuss why the provision to provide birth control in all insurance plans is wrong. Take a look at the panel:
What’s wrong with this picture???
Bringing religious leaders in to discuss women’s access to birth control did not have to look like this. Old, predominantly white men are not the only religious leaders the House could have brought forward. The Episcopal Church ordains women as priests, and there are Jewish rabbis as well. But they may not agree with the misogyny being argued by the panel, so Rep. Darryl Issa refused to have women on the panel, thus turning the panel from a discussion to a preachfest.
I think that Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s words bear repeating here:
What I want to know is, where are the women? I look at this panel, and I don’t see one single individual representing the tens of millions of women across the country who want and need insurance coverage for basic preventive health care services, including family planning. Where are the women?
Mr. Chairman, I was deeply disturbed that you rejected our request to hear from a woman, a third year student at Georgetown law school named Sandra Fluke.
She hoped to tell this Committee about a classmate of hers, who was diagnosed with a syndrome that causes ovarian cysts. Her doctor prescribed the pill to treat this disease, but her student insurance didn’t cover it. Over several months – she paid out hundreds of dollars in out-of-pocket costs, until she could no longer afford her medication. And she eventually ended up losing her ovary.
Sandra Fluke was at the hearing, and Rep. Maloney appealed yet again for her testimony to be heard. It was denied once more by Rep. Issa. Ranking member of the committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings, objected to Issa’s refusal to have a minority witness. stating the following:
“In my opinion, this Committee commits a massive injustice by trying to pretend that the views of millions of women across this country are meaningless, or worthless, or irrelevant to this debate.”
Issa has decided, on behalf of the Republican Party, that the views of women are meaningless, worthless, and irrelevant to the debate on whether or not they have access to birth control. What a paternalistic bastard. And all said in the same week in which Virginia has decided that if you want to have an abortion, you have to agree to an ultrasound. But not just any garden-variety ultrasound, which is invasive enough, but a transvaginal ultrasound. Yes, a transvaginal ultrasound. Anyone who has ever had one knows this is a whole different procedure – physically invasive. Not only do you have to go through an unneeded procedure if you need to avail yourself of a still-legal medical procedure, but now, the government has the right to physically insert itself inside of your vagina as a condition of receiving that procedure. All this from Darrel Issa’s party of small, non-invasive government? To me, that sounds like legalized rape.
I have always asked myself, “Why would someone who was LGBT be a member of the GOP?” Yet there are Log Cabin Republicans who believe in the party’s fiscal policies. But with recent events, it leaves me wondering why women would be a part of a party that treats them as children, as beings who cannot manage their own reproductive care, who aren’t wise enough to know whether they need an abortion or whether they should use birth control. Why be a part of an organization that so actively show hatred toward women, a party that, given their way, men would decide when they can and cannot conceive, a party that is so punitive that they subject women to ultrasounds, invasive ones at that, when they are grappling with what is one of the most difficult decisions a woman ever has to make?
The Rethugs are so desperate to win, that they’ve pulled out the stops on the Culture War issues. It usually works. But this time, they’ve pushed things too far over the line. As Carolyn Maloney so eloquently put it, we will not stand for this. Women are more than 50% of the electorate, and more likely to vote than men. And there are plenty of Republican women out there that agree that this is an insult and an outrage. The GOP party line right now is nothing less than a misogynistic, all-out war on our daughters, our mothers, our sisters, our partners, on women-at-large, and it will be answered with an equal fight to preserve our rights as equal citizens in this nation. It is my hope that the extremist GOP views of women as less equal, less capable of decision-making, the “Father Knows Best” attitude will be met head-on by women in this nation, and with a fury the likes of which they have not seen.
Please let your feelings on this issue be known. There are so many easy and quick ways to do so. Here are a few:
- Here is the email of Rep. Issa’s office, in the 49th district of CA, and the phone numbers: 760-599-5000 Fax: 760-599-1178.
- Here is a link to locate your own member of the House. Simply put in your zip, then click on the link, and there should be a “Contact” link from there.
- And please donate to great organizations that elect more women, like Emily’s List. As long as men are the majority of our government, as long as men make the rules, these issues will keep arising.
The most important thing you can do, of course, is to get the word out to friends, family and coworkers and of course, get them all out to vote! Let’s send a message to the House and the Senate this November, to Darryl Issa and all his Republican cronies, that women’s voices are meaningful, worthy of being heard and oh-so-relevant!
Are we stepping back into the dark ages? Should aspirin be our primary form of birth control? What’s the sentiment around your kitchen table on this issue? Let your voice be heard, my fellow Politicos, comment below here at Kitchen Table Politics.