The War on Women and the War on Democracy
While I don’t like the term “War on Women”, sadly, it seems to be truly underway. And it is much more than a fight over abortion – it is a broad attack on women’s rights, women’s health, women’s bodies, women’s economic support and their ability to function in society. Abortion is just a piece of the Republican War on Women.
The reason I am so adamant about exposing and fighting the war on women is that women are the canaries in the mines of democracy. Women are the first to thrive when democracy is strengthened, and they are the first to suffer when it is attacked. Why? Because authoritarian dictatorships have historically begun their repression with women. Whether it is from the right, like the Nazis, or from the left like the Communists, or from conservative authoritarian theocracies like the Taliban or the current Egypt, dictators always begin by saying women should return to their “traditional role” of submissive wives and home-bound mothers. Which is the message conservatives are putting out in word and deed today.
The war on women in this country is the first battle in the Republican War on Democracy, which anti-American organizations like the Tea Party and the “Kochtapus” have launched through Citizen’s United money and vote suppression. Their goal is to eliminate the people from policy making and decision making so that only their theocratic allies can control things like education and health care and only their corporate paymasters can control the economy. Democracy gets in the way of authoritarian control and the conservatives know it. The more they can exclude people from decision making, the more unfettered power they will have. And the first step is controlling women.
So what are the battle lines in the War on Women besides the attack on a woman’s right to manage her body and her pregnancies? Here is a list:
1. Attacks on women’s health by attacking women’s clinics and health services
2. Attacks on women’s bodies by passing state mandated rape laws and refusing to stop violence against women
3. Attacks on women’s doctors by attempts to legalize murdering abortion providers
4. Attacks on women’s ability to work by denying child care funds
5. Attacks on women’s benefits by cutting programs for women and children
6. Attacks on women’s access to contraceptives, so they can’t control their reproduction and will have to stay home barefoot and pregnant
7. Attacks on women’s role in society by scapegoating single mothers and working women
8. Attacks on women’s economic support by fighting equal pay laws.
These attacks are part of a drive to marginalize women, suppress them, get them back under conservative male control. Conservatives have an excuse for each one, or they say it is just nutcase in South Dakota doing it, or it is only 9 states that have passed those laws. But the pattern is there. This is the first step in the war on democracy, and it has been launched. Every freedom-loving American needs to stand up and fight these attacks, to stand up like the men and women did at Netroots Nation showing their support for women who have had an abortion and refuse to let the right shame them for it, stand up for liberty and justice for all – including women.
What are some of the specifics of the war on women:
1) State mandated rape laws which require that a women let her gynecologist rape her with a probe before she can have an abortion. Texas passed the law. Virginai was about to until there was a public outcry. An Alabama lawmaker who had written a similar bill backed down on the transvaginal requirement after the controversy erupted in Virginia, but other state’s are considering them.
2) A state legislator in Georgia wants to change the legal term for victims of rape, stalking, and domestic violence to “accuser.” But victims of other less gendered crimes, like burglary, would remain “victims.” There is an argument here, but the fact remains: Repblicans want to redfine rape.
3) In South Dakota, Republicans proposed a bill that could make it legal to murder a doctor who provides abortion care. While this may be a lone extremist legislator, it is one of 1100 bills submitted in the past 3 years to deny women their constitutional rights.
4) Republicans want to cut nearly a billion dollars of food and other aid to low-income pregnant women, mothers, babies, and kids. No cuts for men, however.
5) In Congress, Republicans introduced a bill that would let hospitals allow a woman to die rather than perform an abortion necessary to save her life. The bill would require that hospitals that performed a life-saving abortion would be denied reimbursement and would not be subject to sanctions if they refused the abortion. There is no language reaquiring a referral.
6) Maryland Republicans ended all county money for a low-income kids’ preschool program. Why? No need, they said. Women should really be home with the kids, not out working.
7) Republicans in Congress want to cut Head Start, by $1 billion. That means over 200,000 kids could lose their spots in preschool, forcing their mothers to stay home with them and not work, even if they were the sole breadwinner. I guess letting women and children starve on the street is better than giving their children a Head Start if you are a Republican.
Two-thirds of the elderly poor are women, and the Republican spending bill would cut funding for employment services, meals, and housing for senior citizens.
9) Congress voted for a Republican amendment to cut all federal funding from Planned Parenthood health centers, one of the most trusted providers of basic health care and family planning in our country and the largest source of mammograms to prevent breast cancer.
10) Republicans are pushing to eliminate all funds for the only federal family planning program. (For humans only. Republican Dan Burton has a bill to provide contraception for wild horses. You can’t make this stuff up).
11) Mandated ultrasound laws passed in several states require that a women have and pay for an unneeded ultrasound before a legal abortion. North Carolina’s and Oklahoma’s laws requiring unnecessary ultrasounds have been blocked by federal courts. Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana and Mississippi currently have mandatory ultrasound laws on the books.
12) Personhood bills defining a fertilized egg as a person with full rights and subjecting the mother to criminal charges if she doesn’t do everything the state thinks is possible to give birth to healthy child. A legal abortion would be considered murder in these states.
13) Trap Laws – targeted laws designed to shut down women’s clinics by imposing impossible regulations on them or force them to lose their accreditation. Republicans in the Kansas state legislature may force the state’s flagship medical program to lose its accreditation as result of a bill that prohibits state employees, including medical residents at the University of Kansas, from participating in abortion services. To receive accreditation in obstetrics and gynecology, universities must offer students an opportunity to train in and learn about abortion services, although they are not required to partake in the training. While the University of Kansas does not perform abortions at the medical center, it could lose its accreditation if the bill becomes law.
14) Federal laws to deny women their right to legal abortions. House Republicans are currently considering two extreme anti-choice bills: Rep. Trent Franks, R-AZ, proposed the PRENDA bill, which he claims will stop abortion providers’ supposed genocide of females and racial minorities by imposing criminal penalties on race-based and gender-based abortions, although none have ever been recorded or even suggested. Another bill being considered in the House would make it illegal for someone to assist a minor in seeking an abortion in another state if they do not notify her parent or guardian, which would not only federalize state abortion laws but also make it more difficult for women in dangerous situations, such as victims of parental rape, to seek legal abortions.
15) Attacking single mothers. Wisconsin state senator Glenn Grothman introduced a bill that would require that the state’s Child Abuse and Protection Board label single parents as a major factor contributing to “child abuse and neglect” . The bill’s cosponsor, Rep. Don Pridemore, suggested that women in abusive relationships shouldn’t divorce, but “refind those reasons and get back to why they got married in the first place.”
I could go on, but the pattern is clear: the right has launch a war on women. Democracy is next – a fight they have already started in Florida
The Republican War on Women will also have interesting unintended consequences. What if an undocumented couple conceives a child in state that has passed both a “personhood bill” and a “papers please” mandatory deportation law, is the fetus a person,and therefor an American citizen. The fetus could not be deported and therefor the mother can’t be deported – unless the state forces the woman to have an abortion and then deports her, free of the pesky person-fetus.
“‘Forcible Rape’ Language Remains In Bill To Restrict Abortion Funding,” The Huffington Post, February 9, 2011
“Extreme Abortion Coverage Ban Introduced,” Center for American Progress, January 20, 2011
“Georgia State Lawmaker Seeks To Redefine Rape Victims As ‘Accusers,’” The Huffington Post, February 4, 2011
“South Dakota bill would legalize killing abortion doctors,” Salon, February 15, 2011
“House GOP Proposes Cuts to Scores of Sacred Cows,” National Journal, February 9, 2011
“New GOP Bill Would Allow Hospitals To Let Women Die Instead Of Having An Abortion,” Talking Points Memo, February 4, 2011
“Republican Officials Cut Head Start Funding, Saying Women Should be Married and Home with Kids,” Think Progress, February 16, 2011
“Bye Bye, Big Bird. Hello, E. Coli,” The New Republic, February 12, 2011
“House GOP spending cuts will devastate women, families and economy,” The Hill, February 16, 2011
“House passes measure stripping Planned Parenthood funding,” MSNBC, February 18,2011
“GOP Spending Plan: X-ing Out Title X Family Planning Funds,” Wall Street Journal, February 9, 2011
“GOP Spending Plan: X-ing Out Title X Family Planning Funds,” Wall Street Journal, February 9, 2011
“Birth Control for Horses, Not for Women,” Blog for Choice, February 17, 2011