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GOP War on Women, part one [Mar. 19th, 2012|11:04 am]
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Who hates women?

The war on women isn't just a foul-mouthed boor like Rush Limbaugh calling a college student a slut and a prostitute for  telling Congress that birth control pills have important medical uses.

It isn't just Rick Santorum the Catholic  ranting about the evils of birth control, or Mitt Romney the Mormon declaring that "we'll get rid of Planned Parenthood" or Sarah Palin thinking rape victims should pay for the rape kit used to collect evidence after a rape, or Georgia state representative Terry England comparing women to cows and sows  (who, he says, have no problem delivering dead calves and piglets, so why shouldn't women wait until their dead fetus comes out on its own.)

It's a nationwide attack on women's rights as citizens by all levels of the Republican Party.   One of the inalienable rights mentioned in the Declaration of Independence is that of "life"...(along with liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but I'll deal with those in another post.)   "Inalienable" means that it cannot be dismissed or curtailed by law.

A citizen's right to life--to choose to maintain her/his own life, to choose the level of risk--has been fundamental to our conception of citizenship.  One of the long-standing arguments against conscription for military service was that it forced men to risk their lives involuntarily.  For much of our history we have had an all-volunteer military, as we do now.  No citizen can be forced to risk her/his life for another.  Some may choose to do so (braving a burning car to save someone trapped inside, diving into a river to save a drowning person, becoming live donors of a kidney or bone marrow)  but the law cannot compel it.   Where medical procedures are concerned, the citizen must be informed of the risks and the choice must not be coerced.

Yet Republicans approve denying female citizens the right of choice in reproductive decisions, demeaning women's citizenship to the level of serfdom or even livestock.  Republicans have advanced the proposition that the embryo, from conception, is a "person" and thus a citizen with more rights than its mother.   I consider their motives suspect at best.    Several states have passed laws allowing doctors to lie to women about the health of their fetus and about the risk to themselves if they continue the pregnancy.  Most Republicans seem to feel that even if a woman's life is clearly endangered, and the fetus has died (thus there's no life to be saved but hers) the woman has no right to save herself.  They believe a citizen--an American citizen who happens to be a woman--has no right to choose life for herself.  She can be compelled to risk her life or die...for someone else's religious belief.

So far, Republicans have not suggested that male citizens should be compelled by law to rush into fires, jump into rivers, or give up a kidney or bone marrow to save someone's life.   They do not question whether a male seeking treatment for erectile dysfunction just wants a hard-on so he can have fun with sex, or suggest that he have himself videotaped having sex with prostitutes and put it on YouTube.  In fact, a male's inability to get it up is treated as a serious medical problem in itself even though a limp dick is not in itself life-threatening.  (Yes, it may be a symptom of another serious condition,  and those should be treated.  Not with Viagra.)

A few examples of the lengths to which Republicans will go to control women and risk their lives by denying them both the knowledge to make informed choices about their reproductive health and the choices that might save their lives, health, and future. 

In Kansas, the Republican-dominated legislature wrote a low that allows doctors to lie to women patients and thereby endanger their health.   Doctors are allowed to lie to pregnant women about the health of their fetus and any danger the pregnancy might pose to her health as well.  The Republican governor,  Sam Brownback, approved it.   This law places women at unequal risk of death without their consent.

 In Oklahoma, the Republican-dominated legislature wrote a similar law that allows doctors to lie to women patients and thereby endanger their health; the Republican governor Mary Fallin approved it.   This law places women at unequal risk of death without their consent.

In Arizona, the Republican-dominated legislature wrote a similar law that allows doctors to lie to women patients and thereby endanger their health.   The Republican governor, Jan Brewer approved it.  This law places women at unequal risk of death without their consent.

Nationwide, Republican-dominated state legislatures proposed--and often passed--legislation affecting women's health by seeking to eliminate or curtail women's access to birth control and pregnancy termination, and defunding clinics run by organizations that sometimes provide abortions.   Planned Parenthood is the primary target of these attacks, but not the only one.

For instance,  In Texas, the Republican-dominated legislature wrote a law that requires women seeking an abortion to have a medically unnecessary, intrusive, embarrassing, and painful procedure and listen to a lecture serving no medical, but a religious, purpose. The Republican governor, Rick Perry, approved it.   The same governor has defunded Planned Parenthood, refusing federal funds for its clinics in Texas.  Planned Parenthood has provided many medical services (including cancer screening) for poor woman in Texas  and the state has no plans to replace it with equal levels of care for women who have no other source of  medical care.  This puts their lives at risk from more than complications of pregnancy.   (Rick Perry and the Republican-dominated Texas legislature have a long history of  either refusing funding for programs that improve the health of women and children, or diverting such funds to other uses--typically giving "incentives" to those they approve.)

 In Virginia, the Republican-dominated legislature also requires women seeking an abortion to have a medically unnecessary, intrusive, embarrassing, and painful procedure and listen to religiously-dominated claptrap before they can have one.  The Republican governor, Bob McDonnell, approved it. 

Arizona's Republican legislature  has proposed a bill that would allow any employer--religious or secular--to deny birth control coverage in their insurance plan, and even fire an employee who used birth control obtained outside that insurance.    (It may passed by now, and their Republican governor may have signed it.)

Wisconsin's Republican-dominated legislature passed a law repealing the "Healthy Youth Act" (requiring that only abstinence-only programs be taught in Wisconsin schools--despite the demonstrated lack of efficacy of such programs) and making it illegal for women to buy private abortion coverage.  

These laws, proposed and adopted, and others not listed here, deny women equal citizenship rights, and specifically limit a woman citizen's right to life--requiring women to risk their life or lose it to satisfy someone else's religious beliefs.   That is a direct attack not only on women's rights, but on religious freedom--since the laws are applied to women of all beliefs.  Religious freedom is the freedom to belief what you want...not the freedom to force other people to adhere to your beliefs.   (The later is theocracy--rule by a specific religious group, and exactly comparable to Sharia law in Muslim countries.  It doesn't matter what religion--if it makes the laws for a country, it's a theocracy.)  




[User Picture]From: catsittingstill
2012-03-19 08:10 pm (UTC)
Well said. Thank you.
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From: (Anonymous)
2012-03-20 12:48 am (UTC)

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From: mardott
2012-03-19 08:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you for such an eloquent summary of this dangerous trend. You are exactly right. There is no difference between these laws and Sharia law. They are unconstitutional and I hope they are challenged by millions of women.

I almost wish that I needed one of the services in a state that denies them, so that I could be one of the women who challenge it. Alas, I am too old and I live in a state that, so far, avoids this kind of nonsense. Even so, I will do what I can to help eliminate these laws. We simply must not stand by and let it continue.
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[User Picture]From: mrs_redboots
2012-03-19 08:56 pm (UTC)
I am just thankful that I am not American!

It was pointed out in a radio programme discussing the so-called "special relationship" that our Prime Minister, David Cameron, is considered dangerously right-wing here - but he supports free health-care, gay marriage and I forget what else (there was a third thing), so would be considered frighteningly left-wing, practically a Communist, in the USA!
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-03-20 02:42 pm (UTC)
A mild word of warning. It can happen anywhere. I'm glad, too, that the UK isn't as bad--that Canada and Australia aren't as bad--but they can be if the people there aren't more alert. The people behind this want more power in more places.
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[User Picture]From: mrs_redboots
2012-03-20 08:11 pm (UTC)
Indeed it can! The price of freedom is eternal vigilance, as we are told. What slightly sends shivers up my spine is thinking of the books by Sheri S Tepper, particularly "Gibbon's Decline and Fall" and "The Fresco", which seem particularly prescient. I know people say Look At "The Handmaid's Daughter", but that doesn't do it for me - "The Fresco" does!
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[User Picture]From: redvixen
2012-03-20 08:59 pm (UTC)
There are many of us here in Canada keeping a very close eye on Mr. Harper because we are scared he will try to do something like that as well as do other damage to our social system.

At least he knows from history that his residence can be broken into and we, as a people, are not scared of throwing pies at our Prime Minister to show our disapproval.
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[User Picture]From: green_knight
2012-03-25 12:07 am (UTC)
It can happen anywhere

It is happening here. Cameron's government has approved a law that will initiate a US-style health care system - private providers, for-profit healthcare, large-scale hospital closures. We also have had several attacks on abortion providers from politicians and the (Tory) Telegraph newspaper. And we've had goverment politicians propose abstention-only sex education.

We may be behind you, but it's not a path I want to tread.
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[User Picture]From: the_blue_fenix
2012-03-19 09:30 pm (UTC)
How many women are Republicans willing to kill to stop Planned Parenthood from spending a whole 5% of its money on abortions? Apparently, all of us.
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[User Picture]From: cailleuch
2012-03-19 09:59 pm (UTC)
Exactly! That!

I'm in Michigan where another Republican-dominated state legislature and Republican governor are waging economic war on all it's citizens. They have been more covert than some in other states passing smaller step measurers. They have never repealed Michigan's pre-Roe abortion ban and have a bunch of unenforceable and unconstitutional bans on early, mid and late term abortions and abortion procedures with no exception to protect a women's health. Much of this from last year.
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[User Picture]From: naomismag
2012-03-19 10:44 pm (UTC)
Thank you Elizabeth for writing about this. These so-called 'godly republicans' terrify me. As another poster wrote, it's almost the same as Sharia law, and why, oh why, all these years after the fight for equality and women's rights are we going backward? How dare these men any man decide for a woman what is good for her or meets their religious mores! Not only do we have to put up with happy clappy fundamentalists insisting, despite all the evidence to the contrary that Darwin was wrong, the shame is that there are so many women who are subscribing to this medievalist view. As for Sarah Palin, I wonder if she really believes the rubbish she spouts or if it's just a way to gain more votes from the small minded audience she craves.
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[User Picture]From: ann_mcn
2012-03-19 11:06 pm (UTC)
I can't get over the number of women governors who have signed off on this garbage. Have they been promised power? It's a promise that won't be kept.

Have you seen this?

My knitting skills aren't up to these, but opoh, what a protest.
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[User Picture]From: paksenarrion2
2012-03-20 03:14 am (UTC)
I think the fact that so many women in power are signing off on this crap or voting for this is what is extra scary about it. You would think they would be standing up and saying NO at the top of their lungs.

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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-03-20 03:11 pm (UTC)
Think back to the Sixties and Seventies. Orthodox feminism alienated many women then with an insistence on lifestyle and political perfection that many women found insulting and infuriating. At that time, and notably reported in the media, the feminists defining feminism for women in general were contemptuous of women who chose marriage and a family, women who had traditional roles and/or traditional religious beliefs. That wasn't all of feminism--isn't now all of feminism. But just as people can think that Santorum and Romney and their ilk speak for all Christians (which isn't true) people could believe that the hard-line, orthodox feminists (of the type who told me that to be a real feminist you had to be a lesbian, a pacifist, and a vegetarian) spoke for all women in the women's movement.

That kind of disrespect for all women (and it was exactly that) created a natural pushback--both a lack of support from women like me, who agreed on many points but would not submit to the whole dogma, and a virulent opposition from those who felt attacked without justification. (I knew a woman who, though suffering severe spousal abuse, would not consider going to a crisis center for help because "they're all feminists and lesbians and they hate men.") It excluded women who were otherwise supportive of specific goals (equal pay for equal work.) The worst of the patriarchal men naturally backed up these women, told them they were right, that all feminists wanted to destroy their lives and families. And they've been preaching this since the 1970s--and by funding their own lying media, and isolating their initial followers from reality, they've been able to keep "their" women in line (or some of them. Not all.)

This is not a slam at all feminists. I'm a feminist myself; most of my friends are feminists. But rigidity, perfectionism, and disrespect for those who disagree at all occur on both wings, left and right, and cause damage where they exist. One of the things that shocked me, in the Sixties, was the discovery that the same kind of thinking (attempting to insist on the perfection of dogma in a group) occurred in both ends of the political spectrum, and many of the same kinds of behaviors were used to enforce it.

For years, I adhered to the "just be nice, we just need to get along with each other" rules in which I was brought up...staying out of the row...but doing that results in those big moral/ethical problems when "Can't we just get along?" drags you past something you know is wrong. So some years ago now, realizing that things were headed downhill, I hitched up my big girl pants and started annoying the heck out of some people. And by the way, I don't claim to be right about everything (although I'm sure I'm right in saying "NOBODY is right about everything.") Knowing I can be wrong (but not about that one!) means I can change my opinions (and have) as evidence mounts. A liberal Texas politician once said "There's nothing in the middle of the road but a yellow stripe and dead armadillos"...and that's not something I can agree with, becuase I've experienced some stinking roadkill to either side of the road. I'd argue that the road is where civilization and travel--and the wider the road--the less carnage along the edges--the better. Mileage, on any road, differs a lot.

People--any people--protect themselves from what they see as threats. That doesn't make them right, but it does answer the "why do they?" and "how can they?" question much of the time.

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[User Picture]From: fayanora
2012-03-19 11:54 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: princejvstin
2012-03-20 01:12 am (UTC)
Well said.

I was angry at what I read over at Sarah's blog the other day. But my last attempt to disagree with her got me dogpiled, so I don't comment there any more.

I am still not sure how one *would* engage with her. She seriously believes that women are a privileged class and that there is a "war on men".

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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-03-20 03:16 pm (UTC)
Belief isn't logic. You can't fight belief with logic...you can't engage with people who have already made up their mind and only want to "raise your consciousness" to what they're sure is right. Dogpiles happen on both ends of the spectrum.

Personally, I don't think it's possible, or necessary, to insist on people having no beliefs in order to have a sane, just society. It is necessary to get them to agree that their beliefs are their beliefs...that they can have them, and act on them up to the point where their beliefs impinge unfairly on others. In a civilized society, there must be a consensus of limits: where, as the saying goes about fist and nose, we can agree on where your nose starts and my fist ends so the two don't meet.

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[User Picture]From: gifted
2012-03-21 03:59 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-03-20 03:18 pm (UTC)
Oh, yeah. Having been an adult during that period, I can agree that the GOP's most centrist position now is in fact what the radical right fringe was in the 60s and 70s.

Thanks for the other links.
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From: (Anonymous)
2012-03-20 04:30 am (UTC)

Root issues

The women's rights/health issue is at the surface, easily seen.

The religious imposition of a set of views, via government, upon others, is another issue near the surface. Many can see this.

At the root, however, is the general idea that runs counter to the capability of the modern human of either sex: the power of choice. Not to be "pro-life versus pro-abortion" - I don't know anyone who has ever claimed to be pro-abortion - but the ability to CHOOSE. To choose similarly or differently. Just that. To choose for oneself, to be considered an adult human, able to make choices based upon one's own values and influenced by society.

Take away choice, and what you have are a group - in this case a mighty small one - telling everyone else that they're not adult enough to think for themselves. Why? Because they disagree with the choices some few people make, and therefore all people except for their own small group are lesser creatures, and must be coerced into doing what is "right."

Once this happens, humanity is denied. It doesn't matter on what platform, it means the same thing. And once it's codified into law, it's easier to do it again. And again. We need to stop it.

Educate. Protest. Vote.

~Gretchen in Minneapolis
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[User Picture]From: bunny_m
2012-03-20 10:48 am (UTC)
Sarah Palin thinking rape victims should pay for the rape kit used to collect evidence after a rape

Wait, she what...?!?!?!

I don't even begin to understand how a supposedly intelligent person can publicly spout or even believe such claptrap.

So very glad I'm an Australian, even with the forces of the Right and Fundamentalist Christianity starting to throw their weight around here, too.

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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-03-20 03:19 pm (UTC)
That was reported during the 2008 campaign season: as governor, she had made policy that women must pay for their own rape kits, because rape kits contained a "morning after" pill for women to use.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-03-20 03:21 pm (UTC)
Oh, and don't be too smug about being an Australian...the same attitudes exist there and will come to power if you and others don't stop it. Stay alert. When you think you've won the battle, you haven't won the war.
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[User Picture]From: redvixen
2012-03-20 08:53 pm (UTC)
Don't forget, this is the same woman who said her map of America with cities circled in red was not a target drawn for militarists.
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[User Picture]From: gifted
2012-03-20 12:40 pm (UTC)
Well, I'm sufficiently infuriated. I'll link to this in the morning, thanks.
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[User Picture]From: rince1wind
2012-03-20 02:18 pm (UTC)
I agree on all counts. Devolution, regression, arrogance and a complete inability to learn from history - what a combination for a government. I shudder.
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From: (Anonymous)
2012-03-23 12:50 pm (UTC)

The War on Women

Very on point. And having only girl children and a girl grandchild I appreciate it even more.

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From: geekmerc
2012-03-27 05:59 pm (UTC)
I can't disagree with you. I personally dislike the two party system. They are probably both corrupt. The sad thing, to me, is that people like Rush actually hurt honest debate. I actually believe that religious institutions, including schools, should not be forced to do things they don't believe in. There are other schools that one can attend if they wish different options. Don't get me wrong. I disagree with the choice Georgetown made concerning their religious beliefs, but I do believe they should hold the right to make that decision. Georgetown might reconsider their policy (at least concerning medical uses) if they find themselves with far fewer students.

Of course, what can we expect out of a government that is way too invasive at all levels; a government that isn't supposed to be large. I can't complain about state governments. Like schools, companies, religious institutions; if you don't like your state government, fight them directly or move to a state you do agree with. Having the federal government control the states is far more dangerous in my opinion.
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From: (Anonymous)
2012-04-04 06:59 pm (UTC)
Thank you for posting this.
In 1985 I did have to pay for my rape kit. (I am Elizabeth Dowling), and yes, it led me to research victims' rights (or lack... I describe the Flaw in the Law under the Trayvon Martin thread).

At that time, in 1985 in the state of New York where I was living, my medical insurance was billed for everything: kit, doctor, social workers, counseling, etc. It was horrible. I had a lot of co-pays to deal with, and I could barely remember how to put toothpaste on my toothbrush, much less deal with bureaucrats and paperwork.

But, I also had to attend a hearing in person, find transportation and babysitting to line-ups, hearings, etc. The hearing was supposedly casual, but there was a Magistrate, stenographer, and a couple more people asking questions. And the room was one of those big courtrooms. Really nice (NOT) and comfortable (NOT to infinity) for a rape victim. (Bad enough I had to face a Grand Jury of about 45 people and describe personal things about myself.) The hearing was just so that I could get some "victims' services" and paid back for some of my expenses (no, not everything by a long-shot, not the medical or ambulance for example).

By the end of the day, I decided that the hearing wasn't worth it. I was living in Brooklyn, NY, and the only victim group supported by the victims' services was miles away, "downtown," which is near Manhattan. I lived nearer to the beaches at the other end. I had no car; not everybody does who lives there, and it meant if I wanted to go to the one meeting available, I would have to take public transportation at night (um). Nor did any churches have any victims' groups; you would think there were no crimes at all, and nobody who went to church were victims. (I checked too: and sent letters to the 100 biggest denominations in the United States; I had the National Council of Churches' address book, and it required postage stamps back in those days.) I received only a couple of replies, one from a denomination that said victims could help criminals realize they had done something bad by meeting their assailants through a special program; I doubt it helped the victims though. For the most part, at that time, there were no counselors that knew anything about PTSD, or "shell shock" or any other term for trauma caused by a real event. I got into trouble in my church (no, rather, in the Seminary, the Archdiocese) for asking why such training was not available in the pastoral counseling courses. And there were a few letters that said that victims should "just" forgive. That is true, although it is a struggle, and often needs counseling and a lot of prayer, a ton of prayer; it isn't just a new form of "denial," because the burden of memory is too great. Forgiveness takes you through hell and back out the other side. And because of all that, luckily, I only wake up with screaming nightmares once every several years around the time of year the crime happened.

Well, after a number of years, I decided that I could go places alone at night on public transportation, but I never joined a victims' group. I went to opera rehearsals instead, much more fun. For years though, I dealt with a very defensive attitude towards others. And I moved away from NYC after awhile, shaking the dust off my feet.

Sarah Palin and other neocons really make me angry. They are the modern know-nothings, church-burners, crazies. I grew up in southern New Jersey; these types are no surprise, but I wish they would crawl back under the rocks they came from.
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