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GOP War on Women, part two [Apr. 12th, 2012|09:57 pm]

The chair of the Republican National Committee, Rience Priebus (spokesperson for the GOP, as opposed to a particular candidate)  said in an interview that the "war on women" was "like a war on caterpillars" and merely something the Democrats made up and the media promoted.  Instead, he said, the real issue was a "war on the Vatican."   

But there is a war on women citizens of this country, and it's aimed at taking away their inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness...rights that citizens--male or female, black or white or brown--are supposed to hold.   Religious opinions of one (minority) segment of the population are being imposed on all, attacking the rights of women to make their own choices. Last time I talked about the GOP's war on women's lives, and how the GOP's reproductive policies placed women's lives in peril.   This time I'm talking about some of the same policies, but from a slightly different angle--women's right to the second of the inalienable rights listed in the Declaration of Independence: liberty.  Freedom. 

Freedom is the right to make choices for oneself.    Fundamental to other social freedoms is the right to make choices about one's own body.    The right to bodily integrity--the right to refuse touch, for instance--underlies the right to accept or refuse medical treatment, or  to accept or refuse sexual congress.   It is this concept--that of bodily integrity and the right to choose whether or not to be physically forced--that underlies the concept of sexual assault and rape.  

It is noteworthy that spokespersons for the GOP regularly deny the existence of rape and claim that it is rare, that most complaints of rape are lies, or at best the woman didn't quite understand that she was being raped.  State Senator Chuck Winder of Idaho, for instance.  
Several GOP politicians have argued that post-rape contraception isn't needed because if it's really rape, the woman can't get pregnant.    State Representative Henry Aldridge of North Carolina, for instance, and Pennsylvania State Representative Stephen Freind, who theorizes that a 'special secretion' results from rape and prevents pregnancy.   On the basis that women "can't get pregnant if it's really rape"  the GOP assumes that the desire of rape victims for contraception or (if they become pregnant) an abortion is faked.   It's noteworthy that this kind of thinking began (as some of the datelines show) back in the late '80s at least--the GOP has been working toward denying women freedom at least that long.   New laws passed in multiple states this year--by GOP state legislatures and signed into law by GOP governors--forbid abortion in cases of rape or incest on these grounds--the problem doesn't exist, so all pregnancies are the result of willing sex, and thus the woman "got herself pregnant."

Many other freedoms are affected by the loss of freedom to choose whether or not to continue a particular pregnancy.   Pregnancy status and the need to care for a child after birth affects a woman's opportunity to get an education, to obtain certain (most) jobs,  to travel, to protect herself from assaults,  to earn a good living, etc.  Before birth control and pregnancy termination were available, women's options--their freedom to choose--was limited by pregnancy and childbirth.  Some still want it that way.   The GOP Governor of Wisconsin, for instance, repealed a law providing for equal pay for equal work--for women, minorities, and the handicapped.   One of his enthusiastic supporters, state senator Glenn Grothman, claims "money is more important to men."     Forced pregnancy--abusive pressure from husbands and boyfriends, including sabotaging birth control, to force a woman to bear their child--is still a serious problem, especially from men who are brought up thinking women have worth only as "baby-makers."   It is used by some to keep a woman dependent (the old "barefoot and pregnant" control mechanism)--at the extreme, easy to spot, as in the case of Jacey Lee Dugard, but less easy when a husband (supported by a fundamentalist church) insists on a woman having more children than she wants (as in the case of several women who later killed their children and themselves.)  But GOP spokespersons concentrate on "saving marriages" and getting women to return to abusive spouses.  Wisconsin state representative Don Pridemore thinks women should stay in abusive marriages for the sake of the children, despite substantial evidence that an abusive marriage is bad for the children, not just the woman.

Under new laws created by GOP legislatures and signed by GOP governors, pregnant women can be arrested, jailed, prosecuted at any hint that they may have attempted an abortion:   take for instance the case of Christine Taylor, in Iowa, who went to the ER after a fall to see if her baby was OK.    Other states have passed laws requiring police investigation of miscarriages, on the assumption that all miscarriages are actually abortions.   Since my own mother lost several pregnancies to late miscarriages in the late 1930s and early 1940s before I was born alive, she would have been a target of such vicious notions...and if imprisoned and even executed for "murder" as some state laws now allow, I would not be here today.     Women have been forcibly confined to bed rest or other treatments under laws that privilege the unborn not only over the woman herself, but her other children, as in the case of Samantha Burton, in Florida.    For those with a taste for legalese and logical and factual error, here's a link to the current version of the Georgia law against "prenatal murder" which also criminalizes miscarriage, and makes most abortion illegal even in cases of rape, incest, and the death of a fetus (in other words, it claims to be saving the life of  "person" already dead.  Apparently the Georgia legislature was convinced by Terry England's argument that women are just like cows and sows, and should be forced to hang onto a dead rotting fetus inside them rather than abort it. )  Georgia would allow the death penalty for a woman convicted of a criminal miscarriage.   The Arizona law defining the start of pregnancy as occurring before the sexual act that resulted in a fertilized egg, another counter-factual law, passed the GOP-dominated Arizona legislature.

Using material provided by an ultra-conservative group that sends draft bills to GOP legislators,  37 states with GOP dominated legislatures have passed bills restricting women's freedom--their freedom to make reproductive choice.   Others have restricted women's freedom in other ways, such as the Wisconsin repeal of fair employment treatment (affecting not just women, but minority and handicapped workers.)   GOP politicians have spoken out against women working outside the home, women gaining quality education (or any education in some cases), women in the armed forces (and as a USMC veteran I have a huge problem with dissing women in the military) and have made it clear that the GOP as a whole thinks women should live restricted lives--with far less choice than male citizens have.   (Cutting funding for preschool child care/HeadStart centers can force working single mothers to quit working...but is the GOP willing to give them enough money to raise their kids in decent housing, with healthy food?  Well...er...no.  As soon as a mother isn't working, has no income, and needs help...she's a "welfare mother" and automatically bad.)  

The new laws restricting voting rights in many GOP dominated states impact women as much as they do minorities and the elderly, since women have been denied the right to vote, under the new laws, when they could not provide additional information males do not have to provide (marriage certificate in addition to birth certificate, to prove that their married name--which they've been using for years--is theirs.)   Voting is, of course, the primary political way of expressing choice--the freedom to vote is essential for engaging in the political process.  But again, some GOP politicians have expressed regret that women ever won the right to vote.   If women vote, they might figure out that the GOP is doing everything it can to keep them barefoot and pregnant...and they might vote for a Democrat. 

Women who grew up before the Women's Movement of the '60s and '70s--especially those growing up after WWII, like me--are very aware of how limited girls' and women's lives were supposed to be back then.  The careers book all seniors were given in my high school considered very few 'careers' for women (and only for single women--teacher, nurse, secretary)  because it was assumed all girls would marry and have children, and have to quit working.  Girls interested in forestry, for instance, were told to marry a forest ranger.  Girls were steered away from math and science classes.   Female college students who wanted to enter medical or law school faced the quota system--usually fewer than five percent of an entering class would be female--and were steered firmly away from the most lucrative specialties in those professions (the rare female physician might be a pediatrician or a gynecologist, but not a surgeon or a cardiologist.)  All women expected to be shunted aside, paid less, promoted rarely.   The forty years of freedom--of almost-equal access to many occupations, of much greater (though not complete) equality of pay in many occupations, the right to own property in one's own name, the assumption that a woman is in fact a citizen, with a right to make her own choices and speak with her own voice...is now under attack by the GOP. 

It is a war on women.  It is war on women's liberty waged by the GOP over the past several decades, in the unholy alliance of religious bigots who want a theocracy, and "fiscal conservatives" who deny any responsibility for the "general welfare" (as the Constitution puts it.)   It is a war designed to force women back into second-class citizenship or even lower--by defining them as having no worth but for their ability to bear children--and waged with the age-old weapons of sex and lies.   Women who are not free to make their own choices regarding their own bodies--who can be arrested, detained, imprisoned, even killed for making those choices--or even being thought to make a choice of which someone else does not approve--are not free in any real sense of the word. 

It is a war women must win, and the GOP must lose.

Once again:  Anonymous comments are screened, and if the commenter does not identify himself/herself in the comment, or shows the telltale signs of trolldom or disrespect, that comment will be deleted.   Such a comment showed up. 

Have the basic courtesy (and guts) to identify yourself fully and show respect both to me, as account owner, and other guests. 

As before, I realize that some of you do not have LJ accounts and have no way to post except as Anonymous--but those who pass muster are those who offer their identity in the comment and are respectful.


[User Picture]From: silveraspen
2012-04-13 03:31 am (UTC)
Thank you for writing this and articulating the situation so clearly. I have been having the repeated experience lately of engaging in conversation with people who are apparently unable to perceive this situation or who refuse to believe it, and reading this post was a breath of fresh air in that regard.

That said, I wish things were different, such that this post wasn't needed at all, but I agree 100% with your closing sentence.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-04-13 06:17 pm (UTC)
I wish things were different, too. But they aren't, and the sooner we recognize it and deal with reality, the better.
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[User Picture]From: farmgirl1146
2012-04-13 03:51 am (UTC)
Well said. Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: alfreda89
2012-04-13 05:28 am (UTC)

Thank you --

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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-04-13 06:17 pm (UTC)

Re: Thank you --

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[User Picture]From: paksenarrion2
2012-04-13 05:50 am (UTC)
I was just talking with my boss yesterday about the War on Women. She said she really hasn't seen evidence of it so I dug up a few links last night and sent them to her. She did admit that because we live in a very liberal area (WA state) she doesn't really see a lot of what goes on-and she is not on the internet very much. So I think I opened her eyes a little bit with the few links I did dig up.

I will be linking her to this post and your previous post. They will blow her eyes wide open.

That last sentence? Sums everything up perfectly. Because it isn't just about abortion or birth control. It's about turning women back into second class citizens. Putting them firmly back under the control of men. Dependent on men for everything. And we cannot-and must not-let that happen.
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[User Picture]From: naomismag
2012-04-13 11:51 am (UTC)
I read this getting angrier and angrier. Rape is a heinous crime, and sorry but when it comes to abortion, that is a woman's right to decide, no man has rights over my body, thank you! The problem is, these narrow-minded bigots deny science, the rights of anyone but themselves to pronounce on any aspect of life, and are trying to force everyone to their view of religion - one must ask, have they ever read the bible properly? Oh, I'm so angry I can hardly write coherently. I'm sitting here, full of vengeful thoughts, bu thtat won't help. Even in the UK there are idiots like these men and a few women who 'let the side down' with their echoing of such nonsense. thank you Elizabeth for setting it out so well, you're damned right, it is war and women must win.
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[User Picture]From: controuble
2012-04-13 12:10 pm (UTC)
Elizabeth, the link about the AZ law sounds really bad until you read the comments - especially those from RNs - and find out that the medical profession has always defined weeks of pregnancy from date of last menstrual period. The law overall IS bad, but the lowering from 24 to 20 weeks is more to the point.

ETA: Please don't take this as disapproval of the overall rant. I am totally with you, but hate seeing 'facts' wrong.

Edited at 2012-04-13 12:12 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-04-13 07:18 pm (UTC)
There are different ways of timing pregnancy--and RNs are not the best source (too many RNs now are coming out of religiously conservative schools and are vehemently anti-choice. It's shocking what some young RNs believe)

The medical profession has not "always" defined weeks of pregnancy by first day of last menstrual period...dating has changed as the understanding of pregnancy itself has changed. Dating from onset of previous period has two major defects, making it an imprecise measure of gestational progress. First, some women who are pregnant bleed in an apparent period at the time of implantation (or for other reasons, at about the time of what would be a normal period for them.) They may not realize they are pregnant until they miss their next period--by which time they're farther along than one would think (something that will be detected by bioassays and other measurements in a physician's office.) For another, women with irregular ovulation vary greatly in the intervals between ovulations--and thus menstrual periods. For a long time (until bioassays) ovulation could not be determined, so "X weeks from last menstrual period" was all anyone had to go on. Now the date of ovulation can be determined, and since pregnancy cannot occur until after ovulation, no pregnancy can exist until then.

In the '70s and '80s, forward-thinking physicians were moving to stage pregnancy from conception, not from the date of the previous period, precisely because of the uncertainties built into that approach, and the need (when monitoring problem pregnancies) to determine the fetus's exact stage of maturity when pre-term delivery became necessary. In dealing with both infertility cases and these pregnancies requiring early delivery, the date of ovulation was critical. (The only text I have around is Williams' Obstetrics, 18th ed., 1989. It mentioned several ways of staging pregnancy and why one may be more useful in a given situation than another.) Religious conservatives (in and out of the medical profession) do not care about any of that--they just want to prevent abortions.

Arizona's intent is to make abortion as illegal as possible at this time--with a goal of ending all abortion later. Counting the fetal age from the first day of the previous period shortens the allowable period for legal abortion--which is further shortened by a) allowing doctors to lie to pregnant women about anything that might lead a woman to want an abortion (maybe she won't find out until it's too late) and b) the requirement for her to make repeated visits to satisfy legal requirements for ultrasound and counseling. Worse, defining pregnancy as existing from the first day of the previous period allows a side attack on contraception.

No interference with a woman's right to the autonomy of her own body is acceptable...but using medical tradition--from an age when there was no alternative--as an excuse for staging pregnancy based on a previous non-pregnant status--is particularly counterfactual.
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[User Picture]From: catsittingstill
2012-04-13 12:16 pm (UTC)
Forcing a woman to continue an unwanted pregnancy is slavery--forced labor, for the good of another, without recompense--in its most literal, most intimate, most invasive form.

There are two reasons people might not recognize that. 1) Women's work (and blood, and sweat, and tears) doesn't count, and how can it be enslavement if no work is involved? 2) They have a circuit crossed in their brains and enforcing sexual purity on women feels like morality to them. The latter case is regrettable: they didn't ask to have that circuit crossed and they can't help it; the feelings from that circuit are real and urgent; but they still can't be permitted to act on those feelings because that would be unfair and harmful to their victims. Sort of like pedophiles that way.
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From: (Anonymous)
2012-04-17 03:43 am (UTC)
(From Elizabeth Dowling) Some people confuse their own biology with their religion. That is creating an idol of the mind. (And forgive me, but I am a religious person.)

In the case of women, we have to listen to our biology, but it does not always cooperate. The pituitary sends GNRh signals back and forth, and all of it is in a cycle. If listening to biology, the worst a woman will do is to believe that sex has something to do with raising children for a long time. At best, a woman knows better than to think that the roller-coaster could be equated with God.

In the case of men, there is almost a lingam-worship among some, and I am not referring to Shiva worshipers, but some of the men who are afraid that women will develop the ability of the cuttle-fish to choose which sperm actually will allow reproduction. They confuse their own will to survive and survive in their children with God's will. You can tell it is about male biology and not about saving the human race or worshiping God, because as soon as a woman gives birth, the same men with that view will cut off funds to feed and educate those children, not obeying God's rules about feeding the poor. (My husband is not one of those men, thank God.)

But I'll get more personal. There is a new devil in the mix called pollution: plastics, organic compounds mixed with chlorine (poly-vinyl chlorides and dioxin), and even radiation and heavy metals. This can be in trace amounts: the amount of dioxin that can cause reproductive problems in women (and the "teeny weenies" in boy babies) is in parts per billion. This pollution causes millions of women to have various reproductive problems: irregular periods, constant periods, early menses, endometriosis which is the uterus lining in other places such as the abdomen, scarring, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), fibriods, polyps, tumors, cancers, etc.

My daughter and I have had endometriosis on the bladder, bowel, scarring that creates webs between abdominal organs, constant pain, and my daughter carried my grandson to term 9 months with a perforated uterus caused by deeply invasive endometriosis, putting her life at risk. She had such deep endometriosis on her bladder that they were afraid of a fistula between bladder and uterus. She was not married when she had her son, but she was afraid that her chances to ever have children would be gone soon.

I have been told that I complain too much. Years ago, I thought that 1 to 10 pain scale was a joke, so I created a description of each stage based on my own experience. It turned out that it matched the actual description; yes, I've been to 10 with endometriosis; it can hurt more than a wisdom tooth extraction, without painkillers. (We don't want to get women hooked on drugs, do we?)

But who pollutes? Who spills benzene in the Gulf of Mexico, or refuses to clean up? Or takes mountaintops off or creates slag heaps with heavy metals, or fracks with unknown chemicals? Aren't these the same people who blame the women who are victims? They say, don't talk about that icky reproductive stuff in public; not only do we not want to fund any research into women's diseases, but it might cause us to change our policies regarding pollution. (Of course, there are still those "teeny weenies," who is going to marry those boys later? We don't want to talk about how delicate is the human race, and how dangerous those policies are for every human.)

Did I mention that my daughter and I have had hysterectomies to try to stop some of the pain after several laparoscopies each... but for both of us, the endometriosis has come back even without the presence of the uterus (and that is all-too common)?

The Republicans are something very scary, because they twist medical facts.
Elizabeth Dowling

P.S.: Two links about bad laws and policies concerning women:
first, an article about women who are murdered and the kind of bad reporting that causes everybody to ignore the problem. http://truth-out.org/news/item/8168-murder-of-a-nobody
second, women who are raped in the military are discharged with a "personality disorder" and forced to pay back any signing bonus. http://www.cnn.com/2012/04/14/health/military-sexual-assaults-personality-disorder/index.html?hpt=hp_bn12
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From: sheff_dogs
2012-04-13 12:27 pm (UTC)
Thank you for a lucid assesment of the situation. I'm in the UK, but we usually get whatever is going on politically in the States, just a little later and forewarned is forearmed.
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[User Picture]From: gifted
2012-04-13 04:57 pm (UTC)
I cannot conceive that people actually still think in this manner, let alone honestly believe it to be true. Barbaric, ignorant, bigoted nonsense.

It blows my mind that they can get away with these kind of remarks and still keep their job as a 'representative' of people.
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[User Picture]From: jeff2001
2012-04-15 07:18 pm (UTC)
Very well said. I sometimes think of this as a war between the educated and the ignorant, but I know that's simplistic. The hold rabid ideologies can have on the marginally intelligent is just a fact. But the fact of this Republican bill factory's existence (I forget their name) suggests a kind of ideological price-fixing that is, at its heart, not only anti-woman, but anti-democratic.
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From: snowgator
2012-04-16 03:54 pm (UTC)
I'm a white male, and grew up attending a Southern Baptist church. Born in 1970 and coming of age in the 80's, I missed the civil rights movement and have no memory of the Vietnam War or moon landings. I heard and learned of it in school and from family, much in the way you would have learned about the Great Depression, I suppose. Registered Republican, though I have voted for Democrats or Independents for president, when I believed they would be better. I submit all of this as background, and an attempt to identify myself "fully" per your request.

As the perceived target for your post -- if there is a concerted 'War on Women' I'm not seeing it, and I think I could if it existed. Are there small groups of ignorant kooks spouting nonsense both privately and in government office? Of course! Always have been, and will be for a long time to come. On any issue you can think of. One has only to watch the YouTube video of Rep Hank Johnson worrying about Guam tipping over to shudder and be afraid... So am I surprised that there are government officials that believe women can't become pregnant from a rape? A little, frankly, and saddened, though I can't believe any sizable number of people could believe that could be greater than those who worry about Guam capsizing from overpopulation, or that the moon landings were faked.

Neither should I be surprised that you would stand vigilantly defending the rights of women, fighting shadows of a conflict my generation grew up assuming had long since been won, a generation that only through books or cinema can imagine the US as it was then. My wife put me through grad school, and I put her through grad school. She works as a nurse practitioner for the VA, and is currently studying at Harvard while I work and watch the children. No one will be taking away her right to choose a career, or our daughter's, or their right to vote, or marry or not. I do not believe any of these issues truly divide us.

I suspect though, that the true divider is abortion. My neighbor across the street neglected to take her birth control regularly, became pregnant, and had an abortion. At least twice. The timing was inconvenient. A child's life in the balance vs a family's convenience. No doubt children can be unbelievably inconvenient, but to kill them for it is wrong. I know many disagree, and would say that a fetus is not a human but an animal or even less. Yes, there are many other reasons to have an abortion than convenience, and I do not wish to make light of them as they are extremely serious. And I would support those exceptions for at least rape and the mother's life, and likely more. But as the gnomes told Gird in your own book -- wherever there is an exception in the law, everyone will try to fit their circumstances into that exception. Who will judge? Here is the hardest part, I think, and the core of disagreement. I want to believe that at heart we want the same thing -- protection for women, mothers, and the children, born and unborn. But sharply dividing camps with posts such as these make it hard to have any meaningful dialogue.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-04-17 05:02 am (UTC)

Part I

LJ's 4300 word limit says my response is too long, so it will appear in two parts.

The target of my post is in fact the current Republican Party policy, because this is the party that wants to control the United States. A secondary target is anyone--and any organization or group, religious or otherwise--whose policies make life worse for women. That includes segments of several major religions and many subgroups, traditional cultures, all races, and elements in nearly all countries (maybe all, but I'm leaving a gate open.)

You say "if there is a concerted 'War on Women' I'm not seeing it, and I think I could if it existed." What ever gave you the idea you would see it--when it has been pointed out to you and you have not seen it? A) You're male, a white male, raised Southern Baptist. That's about the worst combination you could be to "see" what's sitting right in front of you where women's rights are concerned. You have no experience in being a woman--your freedom, your right to control your own body has never been threatened. If you think the changes the GOP wants will not impact your wife...I'm sorry, you're just not seeing the coming storm. B) "small groups of ignorant kooks spouting nonsense"??? Like for instance the chair of the RNC, Republican governors in Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, Oklahoma, Kansas, Tennessee, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, etc? Republican legislatures in those states? Statements by both US and state Republican legislators claiming things such as "money is more important to men" (as an excuse for opposing equal pay for equal work), "women who are raped can't get pregnant," "women should stay married to abusive spouses," "women who think they're raped should ask their doctors if maybe it wasn't rape after all," "women shouldn't work outside the home," etc.

This is not "a small bunch of kooks." This is a concerted effort by the entire Republican Party to push women back into the 1950s. A time when my mother could not legally buy a house or a car without a man's co-signature until she went to court to have herself declared "femme sole"--the only kind of woman allowed to make financial decisions on her own. A time when women were routinely told they should not even WANT to be doctors, lawyers, accountants, scientists, college professors...and when graduate schools for the professions routinely reserved 95% of places for men.

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