American Politics: How it is Systematically Stripping Women of their Rights
Watching the news from the end of 2011 until now I realize that there has been one massive push in American Politics to lock women back into their rightful place, barefoot and pregnant in our kitchens. Issues that people thought were solved in the 1960s like birth control and who should have access to it are now popping up like we're back in the dark ages. New laws and legislation are being made that are becoming absolutely alarming. There is currently a law that passed in Arizona that opponents are calling the Let Women Die Act and they have real legitimate reasons to call it this. We as women need to sit up and pay attention because we're all going to be put at risk for something if we don't stop this roller coaster now. Below I hope to illustrate a disturbing timeline of events as well as educate and inform.
February 2012 - Hormonal Contraceptive Coverage
Until February 16th of 2012 no one was really paying that much attention to women's issues even though they were already being put under scrutiny. It is then that in my home state of New Hampshire the House Oversight Committee thought it'd be appropriate to discuss and rule on the issue of that day - which employers should be forced to pay for health insurance for their employees. It wasn't as broad as that though, the real question came down to this, if a particular employer was say, a Catholic Church, should they be forced to pay for health insurance of their employees that included things like hormonal contraceptives, something the church has always been morally opposed to, while at the same time having no issues whatsoever with things like Viagra. The group of five men decided it was OK to rule on this without bringing any women in to testify on their own needs and neither were any doctors allowed to testify.
The world watched horrified as these five men ruled that it was ageist the church's right to force them to pay for hormonal contraceptives for their women employees. They had a moral and now legal right to reject not only hormonal contraceptives but also any other medication, procedure, or surgery they felt was morally unjustifiable. This brought up the concern that now these women's bosses had the right to review their medical record and without talking to any doctors decide for them what their insurance should pay for.
House Democrats felt something needed to be done about the issue so they decided to hold their own gathering in which they would allow Sandra Fluke, a college student, to testify on behalf of hormonal contraceptives. There a well-dressed and respected young women approached the bench and told a story about her friend who lost her ovaries due to cycsts that could have been prevented if she were only able to afford hormonal contraceptives. Indeed she was right. Hormonal contraceptives are used to treat all sorts of women's health issues and they aren't just taken by the lascivious. I personally can testify as to that because I have been on them since I was fourteen to treat my own case of menorrhagia. I remained chaste but still taking the pills into my mid twenties.
In any event this new gathering was more or less to appease the public as the ruling had already been made several days previous.
The People who Scream the Loudest are Often the Ones who Know the Least
After Sandra Fluke testified Rush Limbaugh brought the controversy to the full attention of our media when he started to blather really stupid things like Sandra Fluke was a slut that just wanted her government to pay for "so much sex." Now I admit I never liked Rush but wow this really showed his phenomenal lack of knowledge on the matter. And even if he had a valid point I wouldn't take relationship advice from a man who finds marriage so sacred that he's had four different wives in his lifetime - none of which he's had children with. Could this mean his wives were using the infamous birth control? I mean with a brain like that its obvious he wasn't using anything worthwhile. Maybe his wives found him too repulsive to touch. Who am I to say? It doesn't really matter. Rush did a great thing - he pissed off a lot of women and they started to pay attention! So much so in fact that he lost his job as a radio show host. Boohoo. He'll be missed.
If We Can't Make Abortions Illegal Lets Just Punish the Women Who Get Them!
Virginia governor Bob McDowell (R) was the first to propose a bill in Virginia that would force women getting an abortion to get a transvaginal ultrasound. This is an unneeded medical procedure in which a 6-10 inch wand is forcibly shoved up a woman where it then takes photos. Why? No real medical reason and it largely depended on voters if the woman should then be forced to look at said photos. There was a small uproar about this until McDowell made a sudden change of heart saying it would not be forced upon women who had reported their pregnancies to the cops as being the result of incest or rape. People calmed down but they shouldn't have. The majority of women who are raped or the victims of incest do not report their crimes and even when they do they are sometimes met with doubt. Whose call will it be to believe them? All this boils down to one thing. If you don't like abortion don't get one. Don't try to punish people whose values may be different than your own! I mean abortions are between the woman, her doctor, and her God, not between a woman and her politician. Its as simple as that. I think most women know this. I know GOP lawmaker Dave Albo has a wife who knows this. He was caught telling the media he could not support the bill - not because it was unethical or horrendously anti-woman but because his wife threatened to deny him sex permanently if he did vote for it. Good for her! I'm not one who usually is in favor of sex starvation as a political strategy but maybe I should be. Maybe we should all deny these lawmakers, lobbyists, and politicians sex of any kind unless its for procreation, just like they say is morally correct. Perhaps then they'll realize what moronic misogynistic bastards they're being.
This bill was passed in Virginia and then took a tour around the country so that other states could decide if it was for them. Oklahoma also OKed and Alabama not only said it was just the right thing for them they also decreed that the women should be forced to look at the photos taken by the transvaginal probing.
The Personhood Bill - One Bad Idea Leads to Many Ruined Lives
The Personhood Bill is a bill stating that any fertilized egg a woman may be carrying should have full legal rights under the law, basically giving zygotes full citizenship. This would not only make abortion a form of prosecutable murder it would also make women who take Plan B potentially at risk for the same charges. Of course if you're going to prosecute these women what is stopping people from prosecuting women who have had natural miscarriages? Nothing anymore.
The PersonHood Bill passed in Virginia where women responded yelling, "SHAME!" in the hallways of the senate. When the bill came up in Oklahoma senator Constance Johnston (D) decided she'd do something about it. She decided if she couldn't outright kill the bill with simple voting she'd amend it to make it impossible to vote for. She took issue with the fact the bill focused solely on women and their role in reproduction, giving no mention at all as to what men should be found guilty of. She amended the bill stating if all eggs were to be considered full persons than so should every sperm. She declared that every sperm not deposited in a woman's vagina should be prosecuted as a crime ageist an unborn child. Suddenly the playing field was leveled. Any man and boy who had ever masturbated, had a wet dream, or participated in a nonvaginal sex act could now be accountable for being a serial killer and an intensely prolific one at that! The bill was voted down in Oklahoma and Mississippi.
Song - Every Sperm is Sacred
Criminal Misconduct and Miscarriages
15 year old Rennie Gibbs lost her baby due to natural miscarriage when she was 36 weeks into the pregnancy. When the state of Mississippi learned that she may or may not have had a cocaine habit they decided to try her for the murder of her unborn child. She is now facing life in prison, the mandatory sentence for the "depraved-heart murder" she is now being accused of. If ruining the life of a fifteen year old isn't enough then you should realize she's by far not the only one. These cases are increasing in number as lawmakers work to criminalize the actions of pregnant women.
Bei Bei Shuai was a women with a serious mental health issue. When she told her boyfriend of her pregnancy he dumped her and in a cloud of deep depression she decided to eat rat poison to end her own life. She was rushed to the hospital where doctors saved her life. A week later she gave birth but at four days old the infant died, due to the damage it had suffered from the botched suicide attempt. Shuai is now another sad name on the list of women being charged with murder. She's currently incarcerated in Indiana. Apparently the state feels this is a more appropriate response than psychological counseling for the mother who feels complete and utter regret for her actions already. Is that not punishment enough? Must we rub salt in the wounds as well?
Meanwhile Alabama is keeping busy prosecuting women under the Chemical Endangerment Act, a law that was originally intended to persecute meth cooks for subjecting their children to the fumes. Now it is being used on pregnant women who may have been involved with drugs which may or may not have then led to their miscarriages. More than 40 of these cases have been filed in the state and it's a problem that's likely only going to get worse.
The Let Women Die Act
Opponants call this next bill the Let Women Die Act because it allows doctors to have severe misconduct and still be free of criminal prosecution. Basically the law states that a doctor does not have to inform a woman of any medical issues of either her or her baby that may cause her to get an abortion. Now this could be something like the baby not developing properly or it may be something like an ectopic pregnancy, a pregnancy that occurs once out of every 50 pregnancies, in which the fetus starts to develop somewhere else besides the womb. The only way for a women to survive this type of pregnancy without eventually hemorrhaging blood and bleeding to death is to have an abortion. None of these babies are ever capable of being brought to term anyway. And yet if a woman is unfortunate enough to have a staunchly anti-abortion doctor he or she does not have to tell her that her life is at dire risk. The doctor has also been informed that he should tell women that abortions cause cancer even though there is no evidence of this. And if the baby has an issue, lets say it doesn't have any limbs or has its brain outside of its head or something else that does show up in these medical tests these poor women's doctors now have the legal right to lie to them about it to prevent a possible abortion! I'd be very nervous if I were a pregnant woman in Arizona. I think I'd drive to a surrounding state to get my prenatal exams. I just pity the poor souls who can't afford this option.
The Violence Ageinst Women Act - It Works and We Can't Have That so Let's Vote it Down!
The Violence Against Women Act was passed in 1994 to aid women who were in situations of domestic abuse. The law was twofold. It provided medical and mental care for abused, battered, and raped women while at the same time prosecuting the violent offenders and forcing them to take an STD panel. Before this if a husband were to abuse or rape his wife there wasn't much the law could do to interfere with the marriage. This law provided very beneficial aid to many women across the country and was working very well. It not only had bipartisan support but was one of the few laws that passed with almost 100% of the vote. It also passed a renewal several times before this year. This year something had changed. In the Senate the bill passed with the addition that it should also cover lesbians, transgendered, Native Americans, and illegal immigrants - basically extending its coverage to all women, particularly in rural communities, who may need it. The bill was then stopped in its path when it came across the desks of the Republicans dominating the House of Representatives. They refused to pass it with this addition and some refused to pass it altogether saying it was somehow a threat to marriage and "an excuse to hate men." The House's new proposal took out specific wording to cover lesbian and transgendered women as well as disallowing Native American women from bringing non-Native American citizens to tribal trials (as they have their own legal system.) They also cut out the part that allowed illegal immigrants from gaining citizenship by helping the police catch the people holding them in domestic violence which is detrimental to many women stuck in the "white slave" trade, women who usually are from European countries! The men operating these rings are very often involved in other organized crime and the brave women who can get to a police station should have full protection under the law as well as a reward for their bravery. Currently the bill remains in limbo until the House and Senate can agree on one version of the bill or the other.
Student Loans - Let's Pay for Them by Throwing Women Under the Bus!
Both Democratic and Republican parties agree that student loans in this country are a big problem that is dragging the economy down. They both agreed they should do something to lower the rates. Democrats proposed that in order to find the $6 billion dollars to so they should raise taxes on high-earning stockholders and some private companies. Republicans balked at this and decided a better idea would be to cut out all preventative healthcare for women in the current Healthcare Bill. Yes, that's better, lets leave thousands of women without mammograms, pap smears, and contraceptives. That is way better than taxing some rich people a little more. If no one does anything about this student loan rates will double on July 1, 2012.
Attacks on Planned Parenthood
Antiabortion activists convinced many private companies to stop funding planned parenthood because up to 3% of their activities could be used for abortion. Many states also pulled a lot of their funding of the trusted institution, Texas being one of the worst amongst them. Meanwhile the people who suffered from this weren't women getting abortions they were poor women who could no longer afford mammograms and the other preventative care that Planned Parenthood has provided women since its founding. In response to the repeated attacks women have stood up for this one. It is still going strong getting many private donations from concerned citizens, albeit it isn't as far reaching as it once was.
Rape and the Military
As many as one in three women serving in our armed forces is raped while she's on tour, most often by her fellow soldiers, as compared to the statistics for American civilian women who have a 1 in 6 chance of enduring a sexual crime throughout their entire lives. In fact women fighting in Iraq today are statistically more likely to suffer a rape from her own peers than she is to die in combat. This problem has been a particularly prevalent one as it used to be the case that women had to report the rapes to the next highest in rank, in other words her boss. It was up to him whether or not to believe her and its hard to believe someone serving our country is also capable of such horrendous acts. Now they have to report it to even higher ranking officials but the problem remains the same, just because she's reporting to her boss' boss or his boss doesn't make the problem any better. In fact many of these people refuse to believe the women and instead of investigating or doling out punishment to the rapists they instead dole out punishments to the victims for "lying", making them do push ups and hard labor in most cases while simultaneously calling them lying sluts and other derogatory names. There are even reports of male soldiers raping women before they tell them to keep their mouths shut unless they want to be booted out of the army under the accusation of being gay. Gays, whether they be male or female, are still forbidden to serve in our armed forces so this is no small threat. In one case a women was charged with adultery when her rapist got her pregnant because her rapist was married! She wasn't. The higher ranking officials in these stories may not want to deal with rape as a real issue because that would mean the loss of one of their men in a military that's already struggling to find new members. The military currently refuses to pay for abortions that are asked for because of on-duty rapes. Eighteen men and women who have served in our armed forces commit suicide every day. In women this could likely be the reason why.
Documentary on Rape in the US Military
The Persecution of Nuns
During all this controversy the Catholic Church has been bankrolling conservative politicians, supporting many anti-woman bills, and to top it off they decided to persecute their own nuns, saying that they were practicing the ideals of radical feminism and disobeying the Bishops who were the real interpreters of God's law. What were the nuns doing that was so radical? They were supporting birth control and STD prevention and helping the poor by evaluating their individual circumstance rather than giving them a blanket solution to everything. Sister Margaret Farley even went so far as to write a book which stated a women should not stay in a marriage if the man was abusive and that masturbation is good way for a woman to know herself and improve her and her husband's life. All together she wrote a book that was very life affirming for women she felt were being oppressed. The joke's on the Catholic Church, after throwing a huge hissy fit about the book and banning it, it almost immediately skyrocketed to the best sellers list. Unfortunately for the rest of the nuns their threat to take away all their funding is devastating. The average age of a nun is a woman in her 70's. These women are not only past retirement age they have no other living to make. They live in housing paid for by the Catholic Church. Am I to believe that the vast majority of Catholic nuns are going to be cast out on the streets penniless because they were treating poor people in the most humane way they could? All the meanwhile blameless pedophile priests keep popping in the news after being passed from parish to parish while the church pays millions of dollars in hush money. Catholic Church you better wise up. Nuns are not people you can kick around and toss aside, they are your most devout followers. How dare you show them such disrespect?
The V Word
State Representative Lisa Brown made the mistake to utter the word vagina while giving a speech to the House of Representatives on June 14, 2012. She was using the term accurately and medically in a debate she was holding against Michigan's new abortion laws. Apparently the word was so stunning that Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas decided to ban her indefinitely for speaking on the floor. State Representative Barb Byrum stood up for her colleague and uttered the horrifically offensive V word before she was also banned from speaking. This is an alarming new trend of working out anyone who might go ageist their rulings. Planned Parenthood was barred from testifying at the debate, as was any pro-choice women. the only two left to stand up for the cause were officially shut up permanently because they uttered the big bad V word. This is probably unconstitutional as now these representatives are effectively unable to represent anyone for anything anymore and its not just them. If women can't talk on behalf of their own bodies by using medically accurate terminology then what do we have left?? Crying in the corner and hoping someone will take pity??
A World Without Birth Control
In conclusion to this article I'd like to go over what will happen if ultra conservative politics wins in making birth control hard to obtain. First of all people are only human and as humans the vast majority of us are going to have sexual relationships, regardless of if we're morally allowed to do so. Even within marriage most of us do not want twelve children. That is just too many. It becomes a huge burden. In the meanwhile you cannot expect people to practice abstinence and chastity since we have proven over the past 2,000 years that we as a species are pretty damn incapable of that.
Romania is the perfect example of what will happen if birth control and a woman's right to have control over her own reproduction is made illegal. In the 1980s it was illegal to obtain birth control in Romania. This didn't improve the moral activities of the country, if anything it made it catastrophically worse. People didn't stop having sex they just stopped caring for their unwanted children, leaving them at orphanages that were way beyond the limit. Here one nurse would attempt to take care of twenty or more screaming infants, none of which were ever adopted. In this environment of severe neglect these children's brains stopped growing as did their bodies. These children all became severely mentally retarded from lack of mental stimulation. They are now a burden on the state being cared for for their entire lives in adult facilities. In 1989 when their dictator was killed the whole world got to see what was going on. Many people adopted some of the younger babies and much knowledge was gained for the medical fields in child psychology and the development of the brain. If you'd like to learn more about that please read Can Neglect of a Child Really be Worse than Abuse?
Another article you may find interesting is American Women in the Workforce - Why are We Less Valuable? Or perhaps all these serious women's issues have made you need a good laugh. In that case you might enjoy Pop! Goes the Speculum and Other Gynocological Horror Stories or my article on Killer Tampons.