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.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Chow down!

Eating crowI was tidying up my computer today and came across something I’d saved that was written by a right-winger, apparently planning on writing about it at some point--and now I am, after three years! This was after President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize, and the right winger was none too pleased. After the usual teabagger-style objections, they wrote this:

We shall all be pleased to see the distinguished peace award recipient kneel down in the final presence of Osama bin Laden when that glorious day finally arrives.

Wow. You know, I think I actually chortled when I read that. Or maybe it was more of a slightly evil ‘heh heh heh.’

I’m not going to get into a huge discussion about whether or not he deserved the Nobel Peace Prize. I do understand the disparity of a leader whose country was, at the time, in the midst of two wars (although he didn’t start them, of course) being awarded the prize. I do, however, question the author’s assumption that they have any right to ridicule the organization’s choice. It’s not an American organization, and they are certainly above our partisan politics. I also understand that President Obama’s election was met with much rejoicing around the world, in the hopes that America would once again take a leadership role instead of bullying other countries into submission.

We spent eight years under a trigger-happy cowboy who thought that sledgehammer diplomacy was a dandy way to deal with other nations. It’s no wonder we became so resented and reviled around the world. I think the Nobel committee recognized the optimism generated by Obama’s election and based their decision on that. I haven’t always been happy with some of our President’s decisions, but I think he has done his best to extricate us as soon as possible from these ill-conceived and ridiculous wars.

Eating crow2I’m going to guess that the person who wrote that was quick to say that Obama killed bin Laden by building on the intelligence gathered by agencies under Bush. Really? Let’s go to the videotape!

“I’m really not that concerned about him.” Bush gave up on finding him. Obama didn’t. Obama acted on intelligence reports and gave the order that took him out. By all accounts, it was a bold decision, one that some of his advisers didn’t want him to make. Much credit goes to the Navy SEALS who executed the operation, but only a fool would refuse to accept that they acted on President Obama’s direction, or acknowledge that bin Laden’s death happened on Obama’s watch.

Not much kneeling happening on the part of President Obama, was there?

Now, to your meal, disrespectful right winger. With crow, I highly recommend a nice Cabernet Sauvignon, one with a hint of black cherry and shoe leather. I think you’ll find it most pleasing. I know I’ll enjoy imagining you eating it!