I have been shocked (and slightly embarrassed) by the new Georgia House Bill 954. Just jump over to this article, aptly titled "Georgia Lawmaker Compares Women to Cows and Pigs" and you'll probably be mortified, at the very least offended too. I was going to write an article about what is going on down here in the good 'ol South but I have this friend who knows WAY more about the facts so I asked her to write it down. Tiffany and I share the same view on this topic. However, if you do not agree with us I ask only that you respect our opinion. This is NOT an article supporting abortion, rather an article supporting a woman's right to her body.
Religion, Birth Control and Healthcare Reform:
How the Republican Lie Hurts Women
By: Tiffany Smith, Atlanta, GA March 12, 2012
Government takeover. “Obamacare”. Abortion. These are a few of the biggest “fears” and brightest taglines of the GOP.
First of all, I fear a religious takeover far more than our government extending hate-crime protection to minorities and granting access to healthcare for 30 million uninsured Americans. For all the Tea Taliban rhetoric about the Constitution, you’d think they had perhaps read it. “The government shall make no law respecting any religion.” This was an important enough concept that the Founding Fathers wrote it into the document that our government would build upon until the end of time. To have freedom of religion also means to be free FROM religion. Don’t try to force your religious propaganda into our laws, because not everyone agrees with you. This should not be a difficult concept to understand. America was not designed as a theocratic nation. If you want something like that, you should look to a country that employs it and see how well it is working out; say, Iran for example, where the Morality Police (yes, real morality police) roam the streets informing girls if what they are wearing is inappropriate and what time they should go home. I feel confident saying that most American women would agree this is not the model they would like to follow.
Now let’s talk about freedom of speech, religion, birth control and “Obamacare” (aka the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act, “ACPPA”). It was painfully obvious that the GOP began this railing against preventative health care for women on the argument of “free speech” and “freedom of religion,” but it slowly progressed into outlining their true argument – that women should not necessarily be afforded birth control coverage under their insurance plans. I want to make clear that the original law already exempted religious institutions from the rule. The original law stated that if a religious institution only provides faith-based services and employment, meaning that they only employ and serve people who are of the same faith, then they would be fully exempt from the requirement; however, if the religious institution employs people or serves the public REGARDLESS of their faith, then they must comply with the law. I think this is perfectly reasonable; if you do not discriminate in who you provide services to, then you should not be allowed to discriminate against what healthcare options your employees receive. Employers cannot pick and choose which laws they would like to follow. They say that “corporations are people too,” and citizens certainly cannot choose which laws they will follow and which ones they won’t.
The most abhorrent thing I find about this ruckus is that it seems to be primarily debated by men. Republicans recently held a widely-criticized all-male panel to discuss women’s access to contraception. They excluded any women from discussing their opinions on how the republican religious doctrine might affect the healthcare that women are eligible to receive. When democrats allowed the young woman, whom republicans had turned away from their panel, to speak, she was instantly insulted and received a barrage of disparaging comments, most notably being called a “slut” and a “prostitute”. This is how we speak about our educated young women?
One of the things I find so offensive is that the big flap over birth control comes from a bunch of men who have no problem collecting their free “preventative” Viagra, which is covered by their insurance programs. Pat Buchanan recently had the audacity to answer this question by stating that “Viagra has been deemed a medication.” What, and birth control isn’t?? So in other words, it is perfectly ok for men to get their rocks off, but women are the only ones who should pay for it. It seems to escape these men that birth control is not used merely to prevent pregnancy; it has other medical uses as well. Co-pays for birth control typically range from $20-$50 out of pocket expense per month. That’s pretty expensive for a self-supporting woman in today’s economy.
Not only are women under siege for using common methods of contraception, which over 98% of women use at some time in their life, but we have “personhood” amendments popping up all across the country. It is coming up for the THIRD time in Colorado this year – it has already been voted down by voters in the state TWICE, but republicans just can’t seem to respect what the voters have said. There should be “double jeopardy” style bans on that kind of legislation – once it is voted down it ought not ever be brought back up again. Wording something slightly differently and forcing voters to vote on it over and over again is very misleading. So-called personhood amendments are designed to make a woman responsible for her fetus from the moment of conception – never mind women don’t even usually know they’re pregnant until a month later. This ideology could be interpreted to interfere with common birth control methods, and even potentially give rise to a woman being charged with murder for having a miscarriage (as was proposed by Bobby Franklin in Georgia, carrying a sentence of life in prison or death!).
It is worth noting that those who vehemently claim to be “pro-life” are usually also pro-war and pro-death penalty.
Then we have politicians like Rick Santorum who want to fully outlaw a woman’s right to electively terminate her pregnancy, and in the meantime those who want to pass laws to humiliate a woman as much as possible when she is faced with that difficult decision. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell just signed into law the anti-abortion bill requiring 24-hour wait periods and pre-abortion ultrasounds – a medically unnecessary state-mandated procedure intruding into your doctor’s office (not to mention your loins). The original form of the (much-ridiculed) bill mandated a ‘transvaginal ultrasound’ – forcing said object into your body against your will, practically the equivalent of being raped by office equipment. It was later changed to an external ultrasound requirement only amid all the public backlash. This is the most obvious hypocrisy in the battle cry for “smaller government”. I’m guessing they mean ‘small enough to reach into your uterus.’
From the way republicans speak about it, I can only assume they think that women are out getting knocked up on purpose just for the joy of having an abortion. This is an utter fallacy and largely an attack against women by people who do not even own a uterus. Santorum says that “rape babies are gifts from God” and that raped women who become pregnant should just “make the best of it.” I think this is disgusting ideology, and I hope none of these idiots that support the same have a teenage daughter that is assaulted and becomes pregnant. The mere thought of forcing a young woman to bear a pregnancy as a result of a crime committed against her body is revolting at best, misogyny at worst. They have even proposed redefining rape to make it easier for men to hurt women. Under this proposition, a woman could not claim legal protection if she does not aggressively attempt to fight off her attacker, even if she must sustain injury to do so. Arkansas and Kansas are in the middle of passing legislation making it ok for a woman’s doctor to lie to her – yes, LIE to her! - if something is wrong with her baby, if in the doctor’s opinion it might make the woman/parents more likely to seek an abortion. I find this to be among the most disturbing legislation currently being proposed. If a woman can no longer trust her doctor, because the state has mandated what medical information she can or cannot receive about her own health and the health of her unborn child, the ethics governing the medical profession have become severely crippled. The lines of trust have already been breached by so-called “conscience” laws that allow pharmacists to turn women away from their prescribed medications if they have some religious objection to them. If you are a pharmacist or other medical professional who cannot objectively provide services to the public, then you are in the wrong profession. People depend on receiving comprehensive medical care; it is not in the public’s best interest to have certain individuals contesting access to such care based on their personal religious affiliations or beliefs. I mean, how upset would you be if you went to Chili’s and ordered your baby back ribs, only to have your Muslim or Rastafarian server tell you it would be “against his/her religion” to serve your order containing pork? You’d likely be baffled at first, but then you might get a little ticked off. After all, it isn’t the server who is eating the meal, right? And this is a very minor example.
Of course, I also feel that politicians should also be held to that same standard of unbiased decision making. We are not a religious government, and for any politician to openly advocate for religious doctrine in our laws directly conflicts with our governing documents. Any politician who violates the respect for other religions (or nonreligious persons) should be removed from office if they obviously cannot remain impartial to the entire populace. Newt Gingrich made this point crystal clear when he told a gay man that if he wanted any representation in government that he should vote for President Obama. We need officials who are willing to represent all manner of peaceful lifestyles and religious choices, not leaders who openly discriminate against particular groups or members of society. If we allowed the majority to vote on the rights of the minority, the minority still would not have any rights.
One of the main tenets that granted women the ability to progress in this country was the advent of allowing them to make their own reproductive choices. Gone are the days where we were nothing more than baby-making machines and uneducated housewives. Statistics show that women now outnumber men in having college degrees, and are moving closer towards being the breadwinners in the majority of American households. I imagine this evolution is greatly feared by the GOP, as educated women typically lean democratic. After all, it was progressive ideology that granted women the right to vote in the first place.
I think the GOP is right to be fearful of women; we have the power to crush them. Women make up the largest part of the voting electorate, and I would argue that most women, regardless of their personal feelings, would ultimately not take away another woman’s authority to make such reproductive decisions on her own. This is our greatest strength as a collective group; we understand the gravity of such circumstances and that each woman must make her choices for herself –without the pendulum of a religious government swaying over her. The women who came before us certainly understood this, and it is up to today’s young women to make it clear that we will not allow the clock to be pushed backwards. We will not sit by and quietly wait for women to be stripped of their rights by religious dogma. We must voraciously stand against any attempt to place women at a lower socioeconomic standing than men, or to deprive women of equal protection and treatment under the law. We will not be forced into historical irrelevance. We will not waver and we will not compromise on our rights to access comprehensive, scientifically-sound medical care.
On a personal note, I certainly could not ever see myself getting an abortion. However, I would be mortified if under a circumstance I felt life threatening, either physically or emotionally, I were to be forbade by a religiously bias government. Personally, I think the government is the last source that should be allowed to dictate what I can and can not do with my body.
*Personally, I tend to swing Republican (VOTE RON PAUL!) but as with any major organization there are flaws... this being one of the most outlandish.