Friday, February 17, 2012

In a white womb with black curtains

UterusSuddenly, it’s the ‘80s all over again. And not in a big hair, New Wave, Duran Duran, fun kind of way.

When the teabaggers started making noise, I remember telling friends that it was like revisiting the ‘80s culture wars. Reagan was in power, and that’s when groups like the Moral Majority (Linda Richman: Why the Moral Majority is neither moral nor the majority. Discuss.) and Ralph Reed’s Christian Coalition started pushing their social agenda. I think most of us thought that we’d put much of that behind us, and were able to reach a point of live-and-let-live (although with much work yet to be done, including equal rights for all citizens).

We were wrong. When I started seeing so many of the teabaggers exhibiting racist and homophobic behavior (not all...I said ‘many’), I was immediately reminded of the bad things we had to deal with in the ‘80s. Not only are they back, they’ve expanded their war to include the reproductive rights of women, even beyond the issue of abortion.

I won’t provide excessive details here. I think most of you have read about it. Long story short: President Obama’s Affordable Care Act included a provision that employers would provide contraception at no charge and with no copay; a bunch of Catholics and Catholic organizations objected; a bunch of politicians jumped on board and said it was a ‘war on religion’; President Obama offered a compromise in which Catholic or other religious organizations would not have to provide contraceptives as part of their health care plan, but the insurance companies that are their providers would provide it directly to employees and be responsible for the cost. Most people seemed to think that was a fair compromise, including some Catholic health care advocacy groups, but the Catholic bishops were not mollified, and the politicians were off and running.

War on religion? No. War on women? YES. The Virginia legislature recently passed a ‘personhood’ law as well as a law requiring women who are seeking an abortion to submit to a transvaginal ultrasound, an invasive procedure that is medically unnecessary in most cases, and certainly not part of a routine exam. One of Rick Santorum’s biggest financial backers made a tired old joke about aspirin being good and inexpensive birth control, because the woman holds it between her knees. Get it? So the slut doesn’t open her legs to tempt all those fine young men. Hardee har har. Rush Limbaugh characterized women who want contraceptives as those “who do nothing but have sex mindlessly day in and day out and to whom birth control is only a means of eliminating consequences.”

BC panel witnesses2A congressional hearing designed to discuss whether the contraceptives provision was legal and constitutional was chaired by Darrel Issa. The witnesses at the table included men affiliated with Catholic groups that opposed the compromise. The key word there would be MEN. Not one woman was there. In fact, the woman scheduled to speak about how she has to take birth control pills because she has an ovarian cyst was denied by Issa, because he said she did not qualify as an “expert.” Of course, all those priests are experts on female reproductive health!

I’ve heard some male politicians say that if women want birth control, they can pay for it themselves. When you’re struggling to put food on the table, birth control is not exactly inexpensive. You need to have a doctor’s visit to get a prescription, you need follow-up care, and it’s not all that easy to get whether you have insurance or not. Many Republicans want to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood, which provides preventive health care to millions of women who don’t have insurance. To couch it in simple economic terms, for every government dollar spent on contraception, almost four dollars is saved in Medicaid costs because of unplanned pregnancies.

Looking at it from a health perspective, family planning makes for healthier women and babies, in ways both medically and financially. There are times in a woman’s or a couple’s life when an unplanned pregnancy just isn’t feasible. A planned pregnancy means a healthier economic atmosphere, one in which the child is provided for adequately. An unplanned pregnancy for a young woman in college could keep her, as well as the father, from obtaining a degree. Why the hell am I trying to convince anyone? Women have the right to contraceptives for numerous reasons. If you dispute that, you’re just dumb, and you should go away. Seriously. (Here is a good article about why contraceptive coverage is important. Go read that.)

I’ve also heard some people—who am I kidding? It was men—say that if people don’t want to have a baby, they should just not engage in sex. Here’s a quarter, folks. Buy a ticket to the 21st century, okay? It’s got to be kind of boring back where you’re living. Get real.

If the Republicans want to continue down this idiotic road, I have a proposal. If you allow employers to not provide contraceptives to women based on moral or religious objections, I think you should also bar insurance companies from paying for vasectomies (a cheaper and less invasive procedure than a tubal ligation) AND from paying for erectile dysfunction medications. Last time I checked, it wasn’t all that easy to get pregnant without a boner being present, and I’m guessing that the majority of men asking for Viagra or Cialis aren’t doing so because they’ve got procreation on their minds. They might not be entirely happy about having their boner pills taken away.

Here’s something else to keep in mind. In the 2008 election, women made up 54% of the voters. We are paying attention. And if you continue to wage this war on our hard-fought reproductive rights, we will make our voices heard this November. You can bet the sperm bank on it.


  1. War on religion? Don’t make me laugh. The Republicans and Tea-publicans need a big distraction from the sorry set of presidential candidates that they have fielded. And the churches need a big distraction from all those costly court settlements - a way to rally their dispirited troops, in a a fake “war on religion”. One of the legitimate functions of government is to promote equality and fairness for all, by having everyone play by the same rules. Absolutely NO ONE is coming into our Churches and trying to tell parishioners what to believe...or forcing them to use contraception. BUT If the Bishops (and other denominations) want to start businesses that employ millions of people of varying faiths -or no "faith" at all- THEN they must play by the rules that other workers live by. ..ESPECIALLY if the churches use our tax dollars in the process.  Just because a religious group in America claims to believe something, we cannot excuse them from obeying the law in the PUBLIC arena, based on that belief. They can legally attempt to change the law, not to deny it outright. And if they want to plunge overtly into politics from the pulpit, then they should give up their tax-exempt status. Are they churches, or are they super-pacs. They need to decide., or have the IRS decide for them. Did I miss something, or when it comes to the "sanctity of life", is every single righteous Catholic still a card carrying conscientious objector, still refusing to take up arms,  still totally against the death penalty, and still against contraception and birth-control in all its forms? Oh well, hypocrisy is often at the heart of politics, and politics masquerading as religion even more so. This country is an invigorating mixture of all the diversity that life has to offer, drawing its strength FROM that diversity. But TRUE religious freedom gives everyone the right to make personal decisions, including whether to use birth control, based on our own beliefs and according to what is best for our health and our families. It fiercely protects the rights of all of us to practice our faith. It does not, however, give anyone, including the bishops, the right to impose their beliefs on others and discriminate in the name of religious liberty. People of faith should not let themselves be used as pawns in a fake war “against religion”’. The ONLY war going on here is a war against women and families who want to control their own futures. THAT’S what I call liberty! It’s a war ...a war between the lies about religious liberty, and the truth. Don’t believe the hype! Think for yourself! Postcript: An interesting point to consider is this: Mitt Romney tried to score some points by telling us that his dad was born in Mexico. HOWEVER, the REASON for that was that his Mormon Grand-dad LEFT the US in the 1880’s because laws against polygamy were passed in the US (and being a Mormon, his Grand-dad wanted to keep his multiple wives). SO... if we follow the “logic” of the people crying crocodile tears about a non-existent “war on religion”, then the US should have allowed polygamy (and who knows what else) just because a particular religion claimed it as their belief. GIVE ME A BREAK!

  2. Shouldn't white men be allowed to tell everyone else how to live, and what to do with their bodies?
    White men know best.

  3. I don't even listen to the Republican debates anymore. I just change the channel.

    I have faith in Obama that he will handle all these morons!

  4. It seems to be a reoccurring theme -- men making decisions that effect women, Apparently womenfolk just aren't capable and knowledgeable and therefore aren't allowed into the decision making discussions.

    This puts me in a position of authority. I think that I can now tell my wife what underwear and clothing to buy. She just isn't capable of making these kind of decisions.

    Oops -- gotta' wife is walking in.


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