For a while, Republicans in the United States Congress embraced limiting contraception rights for American women. There was a storm of protest and much media coverage about the "Republican War on Women." Wisely the National Republican Party has kept a lower profile but don't make the mistake the issue has gone away. In state after state where Republicans control, the Republican War on Women is a major priority.
In an article in Huffington Post , Hans Johnson makes an articulate case why this issue is everyone's issue and not just a feminist issues.
Insistence by Michigan's Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger that his fellow state representatives Barb Byrum and Lisa Brown, both Democrats, not speak on the House floor was retaliation for the women's protest against an extreme antiabortion bill they had the audacity to call out as an invasion of privacy and violation of their own bodily integrity. This attempted smack-down from Republicans pushing intrusive, Big Brother policies while prone to boasting their small-government beliefs has created a teachable moment about gender, authority, and fair representation. It should rally men to reverse the onslaught against healthcare access and human rights just as much as it is activating women.
Michigan's proposal mimics a host of similar bills requiring ultrasounds, coercive counseling, and other paternalistic humiliations before women can end an unwanted pregnancy. Such bills were debated in 18 legislatures this year and have become law in eight states, including Texas and Virginia, where Republican strong-arming gained the force of state policy when the new statute took effect July 1.
After an investigation by pro-transparency researchers at the Sunlight Foundation showed that Republican lawmakers across the country were cutting and pasting from a common source text, an anti-abortion group took credit for circulating the so-called model legislation. Creating cue cards for right-wing lawmakers has become a cottage industry among conservatives now that ALEC, the purveyor of choice for anti-choice, anti-union, and anti-gay policies, has egg on its face from exposés tying the group to Florida's shoot-first-ask-later law implicated in the Trayvon Martin killing and Arizona's show-me-your-papers law, most of which was rejected by the Supreme Court in June.
Johnson shares the story of Jennie Linn McCormick in Idaho:
Today the traditional means of terrorizing women into submission in fixed roles of subservience and uncompensated nurturance have lost traction. Overreach -- like trying to bar women colleagues from speaking in a legislature, a tactic conservatives would condemn if practiced by the Taliban--is one sign of the desperation.
So is the case of Jennie Linn McCormack. The Idaho mom was taken into police custody in 2011 after officers showed up at her apartment in Pocatello and asked to see her fetus, based on a tip from the relative of a friend. McCormack, a single mother with three kids making do with a dry-cleaning job and a monthly $250 in child support, had decided five months prior, upon learning she was pregnant, that she could not afford another child.
Nor did it seem feasible to get an abortion, an onerous process in a vast state with only two clinics and many legal and logistical hurdles facing both women and providers. The service becomes even harder to obtain, and more expensive, the later in a pregnancy a woman seeks it. Based on advice from her sister, McCormack mail-ordered a prescription that she used to end her pregnancy, which she estimated at 14 weeks' duration.
Having lost her retail job amid whispering and scorn following the police investigation, McCormack has filed suit against the Idaho statute under which she remains at risk of prosecution. The "fetal pain" law due to be reviewed by a federal court next week all but forbids abortions after 19 weeks on the disputed notion that fetuses at that gestation are fully sentient. It threatens to send police, based on rumors and hearsay, to the doorsteps of women who have miscarried and turn hundreds of people into criminals. The prosecuting attorney who brought felony charges against McCormack underscored the punitive nature of the attack on women's health care, prioritizing embryos and fetuses over the security, liberty, and sustainability of women's lives. "I mean, she was obviously getting pregnant time and time again," Mark Heideman told the Los Angeles Times, "and not protecting the unborn fetus."
This is the first generation of women to take for granted the right to fully control their own bodies and have an equal say in the course of their state, country, and the world. That is why it is both deplorable and farcical that House Speaker John Boehner should call a hearing to consider legislation to undo women's right to choose that included no women. That is why it is understandable that women coast to coast erupted with fury when the country's biggest mouthpiece for right-wing causes called a Georgetown University law student barred from testifying at that hearing a "slut" and a "prostitute" for advocating full coverage for contraceptives as a prudent investment in a humane and equitable society.
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