I’m back everyone. I know it’s been a long time. The last time I posted here it was about the situation in Wisconsin and the war on Unions. That was a little more than a year ago. But I’m back and mad as hell!
(artwork above from Pamela Willis Watters)
Well the GOP has decided to pick a new fight and this one is even more personal than the last one. They have decided to wage a War On Women. This fight is even more ridiculous than the last one. Not only for the fact that they have tried- unsuccessfully in my opinion- to frame their invasive, subjugating legislative maneuvers as their effort to “protect religious freedom”, but that they expected women to sit still quietly while they went about their merry misogynistic way.
It started or should I saw restarted last fall with the most recent attack on Planned Parenthood and the GOP’s move to defund it and the associated Susan G. Komen Foundation debacle. Although, technically- this war on women’s rights has been waging away for quite some time. It has just reached a fever-pitch in the last year or so.
The Planned Parenthood/ Komen Foundation debacle was the first real and effective push-back on behalf of women’s rights I’ve seen in recent memory. That gave me and a lot of other women out there hope that we had a measure of recourse against some of the draconian measures the conservative right was trying to implement. That recourse came in the form of our combined voice of outrage. But more important than outrage- a plan of action.
From that point on women, and the national media started paying a bit more attention to the rash of legislative measures- on both the National and State levels that were designed to restrict, encumber and shame women out of exercising their right to choose and direct their own health care and reproductive choices. They have tried framing their arguments in several different ways; sanctity of life, religious freedom and “informed consent”. None of these arguments hold water when closely examined. They are nothing more than buzz words used to elicit the prescribed reaction from the conservative base.
The “sanctity of life’ argument rings false when put up against restrictions to abortions in the case of women at-risk. In their scenario, the life of the fetus takes precedence over the life of the mother. The “religious freedom” position has even less merit when examined closely.
Here is the specific language from the First Amendment relating to religion: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
Now, I’m no constitutional scholar, but that sounds more like freedom from religion rather than freedom for religion. And why is it that the conservative right is never quite so concerned about the other aspects of the First Amendment as the are with the religious aspect. Sort of like the way they selectively read the Second Amendment…
As far as the “informed consent” position, that is such a quagmire of hypocrisy that it’s hard to narrow it down to a few lines. Suffice it to say, that it takes the position that a woman who has made the very difficult and heart-wrenching decision to have an abortion is either too lazy or too ignorant to properly inform herself about the consequences and effects that such a procedure entails. Furthermore it maintains that she needs the intervention of the legislature and/or other governmental entities to obtain that information. It is also a gross insult to the medical professionals who advise their patients and perform these procedures.
None of these arguments are what the appear on the surface, but are rather a mass of rationalization in a larger pursuit to restrict, control and subjugate women in order to roll back the clock on every bit of freedom and empowerment women have fought for over the last 100 years.
This current and far-reaching war on women is not something that has happened over-night. It has been building for years and has just recently reached a stage of critical mass. Like most things in modern society, it takes a radical moment to push things to their breaking point and to reach out beyond the dedicated few to the general public. That moment came when Rush Limbaugh, in all his racist, sexist, women-hating glory decided to unload a big portion of his misogynistic vitriol on Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke. Ms. Fluke, a law student as well as a student of social advocacy, but more importantly, a private citizen had testified before a Congressional committee about the essential need for contraception coverage. This need was not related to a woman’s desire to, as Limbaugh put it, “have lots of sex”, but for the health related reasons that a woman chooses to or is advised by her doctor to avail herself of contraceptives.
Limbaugh’s initial remarks ( which don’t bear repeating here) were so offensive, so outside the realm of common decency that it elicited a firestorm of public outrage.
The stunning non-response and tepid chastisement of Limbaugh from GOP leaders and presidential candidates had it’s own corresponding effect. That particular ripple effect was so momentous that it managed to reach people across party lines and caused several high profile Republicans (mostly women) to separate themselves from the GOP in it’s current radical form. Olympia Snowe, traditionally a mostly moderate Republican indicated her intention to resign from Congress shortly after this episode. She cited the stagnant nature and total lack of compromise and inability to accomplish anything of worth as her reason for resignation, but given that Congressional gridlock is hardly a new situation, one must wonder at the timing of her announcement.
Women are gathering, talking, organizing and rallying across the country in an unprecedented wave of momentum to fight back against this war on women’s rights and freedom. These are not small or inconsequential efforts either and they are mobilizing at a pace that would impress any commanding general.
For instance, Karen Teegarden formed UniteWomen.org in the last week of February this year. That movement, originating with a national group on Facebook and branching off into individual state groups, monitored and mentored by regional groups have in a few short weeks organized (or is the process of organizing) same day rallies in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia. This effort alone is an organizational and logistics marvel carried on by men and women volunteering their time to create something that most professionals would say would take a minimum of six months to plan. In addition to the plans for these rallies, a website has been built and videos are being broadcast on the groups YouTube channel.
All this is HUGE– and this is only one group.
In my home state of Virginia, presided over by Gov. Bob (Trans-Vaginal Ultra-Sound) McDonnell, a bi-partisan PAC called The Women’s Strikeforce was formed in that same week. Their focus is as follows:
Our bi-partisan group will work to support and elect candidates who will bring respect for women back to an arena of civil discourse and put a stop to the legislative attacks on women.
The night the PAC was formed it became part of the national discourse and received overwhelming support in its first hour.
There are similar PACs and protest groups forming all over the country, most receiving support and endorsement from not only the expected areas such as Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice and the National Organization of Women, but also from The League of Women Voters and the Coffee Party Movement.
The amazing level of public bi-partisan support on this series of issues shows that the rank and file members of the GOP in both Congress and the state legislatures that are writing and sponsoring these restrictive and dangerous measures are grossly out of touch with their constituencies and are doing nothing more than pandering to a small yet vocal fringe of their party that seems to be driving a radical message.
In a time in this country when we are trying our best to repair a devastated economy, brought to the brink by deregulation, greed and corruption in the financial industry, the cost of two wars, rampant unemployment from out-sourcing and a shrinking market- not to mention a housing market tossed on its head, do we really need to be fighting a war that was settled 30 years ago… or so we thought?
The answer is: we shouldn’t have to, but we are! Women and men who support and respect them, will come together and march, attend rallies and silent vigils. We will write letters to the editors of our local newspapers, we will sign petitions and call our congressional representatives and members of our legislature. We will donate to and campaign for candidates who make it clear with words and deeds that they respect women and their rights and not only consider them “women’s rights” but basic HUMAN rights.
We will also do the one thing that is the final blow to those who seek to minimize, marginalize and restrict us as human beings. We will exercise our constitutional right to VOTE them out of office!
So, all you sisters, mothers, aunts, grandmothers and all of you men out there who love and respect them, find a group to join, a rally to attend, a candidate to work for and help us win this war on women- for our daughters and granddaughters and nieces, so that their rights won’t be taken away. For our sisters and friends in support of them. For our mothers and grandmothers so they won’t have to watch their daughters and granddaughters suffer needlessly and watch what they fought for trampled into the dust… and lastly for ourselves. Because when one of us suffers, we all do.