April 12 – Volume 13, #4
“Sugar and Spice”
I always found it comically hypocritical to hear conservatives bemoan the misogyny in rap music as if they actually gave a damn about America’s women. While actual misogyny in rap music shouldn’t be excused by any means, conservatives are the last people to be lecturing anyone on the subject. The conservative right in America has proven itself to be far more skilled at abusing, oppressing and marginalizing women than Uncle Luke or Snoop Dogg ever could. Religious conservatives of all faiths are unrivaled historically in regards to their unyielding desire to control women.
My intimate and detailed knowledge of this history makes it where the Republican Party’s latest assault on the reproductive rights of women isn’t all that surprising. What is surprising is their continued political stupidity and inability to do basic math in calculating that there are more female voters in this country than male voters. And if I don’t know anything else, I know that rare is the woman who forgets a slight. And the American women have been slighted, and then some, by the GOP over the past few weeks through their efforts to limit female reproductive rights all across the nation. And it is quite the political gamble to think that our fair maidens will forget these affronts in November.
With a series of positively Gestapo-like laws, the Republican Party is doing all it can to limit their reach to female voters, just as they have with blacks, gays, Hispanics and young people. With their complete alienation of this new, 21st century silent majority Republican law makers are behaving as if they want to lose elections for the next 100 years.
On their way to campaign suicide, however, GOP legislators are working earnestly to undo some of the taken-for-granted rights of women that had been fought for long ago.
In Arizona for example, a bill is gaining momentum that would allow an employer’s moral posture on birth control pills to determine whether or not their female employees would have access to contraception through their job’s health care plan. Currently in Arizona, health plans are required to cover contraception along with other prescribed medications such as those taken to treat asthma, hypertension or heart disease. Under the revised law, employers will require their employees to justify coverage for contraception by showing that birth control pills are being used for a health issue and not to prevent pregnancy. Arizona House Bill 2625 goes as far as allowing an employer to later fire the worker if it is discovered that they had used birth control to actually control a birth.
Virginia recently made it a requirement that women who request an abortion receive an abdominal ultrasound. While still far too intrusive for a political party that prides itself on limited government intervention in people’s personal lives, the law was a scaled-down version of the original that would have included a quite literally intrusive transvaginal procedure. Political backlash from both women and men blocked a similar bill being co-sponsored in Pennsylvania by state House Majority Leader Mike Turzai.
Comparable bills modeled after the Virginia law either have been approved or are on the verge of becoming law in Texas, Idaho, Alabama and New Hampshire.
All of these acts on the state level are back-door attempts to institutionalize elements of the recently rejected Blunt Amendment, which would allow all employers across the nation to refuse to cover ANY health service that they found morally objectionable. This fascist overreach came in response to the Obama administration’s political pirouette that revised part of the health care law that required employers to cover all employees’ prescription medications. This policy originally represented a potential conflict between church and state as some Catholic hospitals felt that they were being forced to pay for products such as birth control pills that went against their core principles and beliefs. Obama quickly shifted the discussion by requiring the insurers to cover these prescriptions in situations where faith-based organizations filed to be exempted from paying for these products for religious reasons. To do otherwise might represent the government forcing a church to act against its will, a notion that violates the very foundation of the republic. Unsatisfied with this compromise, and grasping for any political fight that they might actually have a shot at winning, Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri upped the ante by arguing for allowing all employers (faith based or otherwise) an exemption. Originally, the Republicans could make an overall implausible; but at least intellectually reasonable, argument that they were acting as safeguards of the church. But with this political football taken off the table by the president’s revision, it raises the question of exactly who are Republicans fighting for in ushering in these wave of ultrasound laws where they hope that requiring a visual image of a fetus will guilt women out of their abortions.
But if abortion is a sin, as conservatives claim, then like all our other multitude of sins, it should be left to the creator to yield her or his verdict. It is not to be left to congress. But once again, big government Republicans find themselves intruding in the most personal of decisions that a woman can make. But women aren’t dumb, they see that this is merely another effort to control women and their sexuality as lawmakers never call for men to endure such indignities.
Ohio lawmaker, Nina Turner, responded to the absurdity of these policies by proposing legislation that limited men’s access to Viagra, a drug (unlike birth control pills) that has no known health benefits. Turner doesn’t expect the law to pass anymore than Roy Blunt did his own bill, but she is trying to make a larger political point in illustrating how ridiculous it is for the government, your employer or your health provider to have a say in such personal decisions.
As has often been the case in justifying their oppression, conservatives coaxed their support for the law in religious liberty. “I believe we live in America,” Arizona state congresswoman Debbie Lesko said in defense of her sponsorship of that state’s law. “We don’t live in the Soviet Union. So, government should not be telling the organizations or mom-and-pop employers to do something against their moral beliefs.” And yet it seems perfectly ok to the congresswoman for lawmakers and clergymen to impose their morality on the rest of the nation.
These hypocrites and infidels are precisely who the founding fathers had in mind in providing a provision for the separation of church and state in the Constitution. Not only are the GOP’s actions disconnected from the framework of the nation’s founders, but their politics represent a break with the model of Jesus Christ who they purport to hold higher than all others. But whether it’s talking about stripping food stamps and health care from poor people, or infringing upon the rights of women, the Republican Party does more to make life more difficult for people than make it better. Jesus Christ, conversely, spent the entirety of his life trying to make life better for others. Ideally, this should be the role for government as well. This is precisely the conservative belief about the function of government in America, that government should only involve itself in public life to improve the conditions for everyday people. But in other domains people should be left to their own devices. When was the last time the Republicans fought for anything to make the lives of everyday people better? Think hard, it may take you a while.
Republican leadership is fully conscious of this record. It’s crystal clear that these measures are nothing more than political posturing as the GOP attempts to shift the national dialogue. And I understand that with the economy steadily improving after the Bush-created recession and Obama behaving like a ninja assassin in foreign policy, the Republicans just don’t have a lot to talk about. So they fall back on their old standby of divisive, wedge, cultural issues. The Republicans have done this because these are issues where most people have a clear position, making the differences between each party and its values fully apparent.
And in that regard the Republicans have been immensely successful. The differences between the two political parties as it relates to the rights of women couldn’t be more vivid. One party advocates for the health rights of women and respect them as adults capable of making sound decisions in regard to their bodies. The other party wants us to return to the Dark Ages.
It is debatable whether or not working to draw these contrasts so dramatically will be a successful election strategy for the Republicans come November.
The Republicans wasted a lot of money over the last 10 years trying to root out an Islamic fundamentalism that they felt was an anathema to the American creed of freedom. Perhaps another war needs to be launched to root out religious fundamentalism here at home. It certainly will cost a lot less and women will only need to arm themselves with ballots rather than pistols. For many women in America, the Republican Party is a far, far, far bigger threat to your personal freedoms than Al Qaeda ever was on its best day. Be afraid, be very afraid.
Peace and God bless,