Sunday, March 18, 2012

The War on Women's Health

It seems like the GOP has run out of ideas for political fights to pick, either because they know they can’t win on the economy or global issues or because they’re just plain nuts, so they decided to hop into their DeLorean and travel back sixty years to the 1950s. They have decided that their big political fight for 2012 will about women’s reproductive rights, specifically contraceptives and abortions and it all seemed to start with some comments made by the poster boy of the Religious Right, Rick Santorum:

Then came President Obama’s executive order for all employers to cover birth control in their prescription drug and health insurance plans. This set off an uproar for conservative Christians, claiming that their freedom of religion was going to be impeded on by this new law, despite the fact the First Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to freely practice their religion, not for the employer to force their religion upon their employees. Despite that fact, the president revised the language of the executive order to appease the Catholic Church, but Republicans still don’t like it. Congress then convened hearings on the medical purposes of birth control, except the Republican controlled committee brought in an all-male panel of so called “experts” that only told what the Republicans wanted to hear. Democrats weren’t happy about this, so they convened their own hearing and brought in their person to testify, Sandra Fluke, a law student at Georgetown University. Her testimony was about the medicinal uses of birth control from the experience of one of her friends. The right wing talk show clown Rush Limbaugh took that testimony and twisted it in the most sick manner ever, calling Ms. Fluke a slut and prostitute because she can no longer afford birth control since she is having so much sex, despite Ms. Fluke not referring to herself at all in the testimony. And so far none of the Republican candidates have disavowed Limbaugh, further distancing themselves from female voters. Republicans in the Senate even wrote a bill to override this new executive order, called Blunt-Rubio for the co-sponsors, which would give employers the right to refuse to cover certain medical treatments based on their moral beliefs.

The other firestorm sweeping the nation for women’s health is the stricter laws Republican controlled states are putting in place for women who wish to get an abortion. Starting with Virginia and now spreading to other states like Kansas, Texas, and even Pennsylvania, Republican controlled state legislatures are drafting bills to make it mandatory for women seeking an abortion to have an unnecessary and medically invasive vaginal ultrasound against the will of the woman, essentially state sanctioned rape. This too has ignited a fire storm, even more than the birth control debate. In some states to protest the measure, female Democratic lawmakers have proposed amendments that would force to men to get equally unnecessary and medically invasive rectal exams if they want prescription for ED medication, which I believe is only far. Pressure in Virginia has forced state lawmakers to rewrite the bill, taking out the vaginal ultrasound language. Hopefully pressure from elsewhere will cause the same to happen in Texas, Pennsylvania and elsewhere across the nation.

The GOP picked the wrong battle to fight this year, especially since it’s a presidential election year. If they are seen as being against women’s rights in anyway, it’s the kiss of death and they can forget about taking back complete control of Washington for a good long time.

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