The GOP War on Women Rages On

 
The United States Republican Party has been waging a war on women and our bodies since Roe vs. Wade gave women the right to choose to terminate pregnancies. The fact that this war continues to this day is not news. However, the intensity with which it is rearing its ugly head right now in this crucial election year most certainly is news.

 

Most people thought that the Roe vs. Wade decision settled the debate on abortion rights. It seemed that once the Supreme Court declared that women have the right to govern their own bodies, and that family planning, contraception, and all related matters are private, and to be kept between a woman and her physician, that our rights to make our own decisions with regards to these very personal matters were secured. Unfortunately, we are now seeing that this is not the case. The GOP has decided that, ultimately, it is the government’s right to decide how a woman deals with everything regarding reproductive matters from basic contraceptive needs to the aftermath of rape and incest.

 

State after state, laws are being written, proposed, and passed to block  access to women’s reproductive health, often backed by supposedly educated legislators. While Roe vs. Wade forbids the states to criminalize abortion and contraception outright, they do not forbid laws that make it all but impossible to receive such medication and care. In Texas, Governor Rick Perry stopped all funding to Planned Parenthood, which provided health care to tens of thousands of low income women around the state. He stood by this decision, despite the fact that doing so meant that all Federal aid to fund the state’s Medicaid programs would be withheld. Not only did this decision mean that women had no access to care- most of which did not include abortions- it meant that children would potentially suffer as well. He cared not about these very serious consequences, only about legislating his personal morality.

 

In Arizona, Governor Jan Brewer backed a bill that, essentially, made it possible to declare that a woman was pregnant before she was actually pregnant, citing the times during the monthly cycle when it is possible to get pregnant as just cause to include the two weeks prior to conception in the accepted twenty- two week deadline for terminating pregnancies. This not only delves into the government attempting to regulate the most deeply personal part of a woman’s life while she is fertile- her menstrual cycle- but it potentially means the difference between being allowed to choose when to bear children and when to opt out. That crucial two weeks could mean the very vital difference between having a choice and not having a choice, regardless of the many potential risks to a woman’s health and overall well being. As if this type of deeply offensive interference wasn’t enough, Governor Brewer also supported forcing women seeking abortions to have trans- vaginal ultrasounds prior to proceeding with the termination of pregnancies.

 

Abortions are not easy decisions, but sometimes they are necessary. The idea of the government interfering in such a deeply personal decision as to what a woman can and cannot do with her own body is beyond troubling, not to mention offensively invasive. These bills and laws that attempt to prohibit these choices not only intrude into the lives of private citizens on an almost unimaginable level, they also raise questions about what rights we really do have in this supposedly free country. It is my belief that the Georgia legislator, Terry England, who compared women to farm animals, revealed just what this is really about. It is about controlling women, forcing us to be nothing but hosts for fetuses, to be baby machines whether we like it or not. We are not human beings, but instead we are objects to further an agenda with regards to the female sex’s place in this society. If this were not about controlling women, the war would not stretch to things like regulating the coverage of contraception by insurance providers.  There is no attempt to prohibit or regulate the cost of drugs like Viagra for men, so why should there be such debate over oral contraceptives for women?

 

People make the argument that organizations with religious or moral objections to contraception should be able to refuse to pay for it, but this argument is invalid for a number of reasons. Firstly, the organization itself is not paying for it. The insurance provider the organization chooses to use is responsible for those payments. Employees pay for their own health plan, so the actual organization has no involvement. Secondly, employers do not have the right to know what medications their employees are taking. This is a private matter between that employee and his or her doctor. To know anything that is not directly applicable to that employee’s ability to do his or her job or to be a good representative of the company in the public sphere is an unnecessary invasion into that person’s life outside of work. In short, once again, this is about finding legal loopholes with which to control women’s bodies.

 

The GOP is most definitely engaged in a war on women in an attempt to appease their far right, heavily religious base. These people are attempting to turn America into a theocracy by legislating radical religious right views about morality with regards to family planning, contraception, and abortion onto the entire country. Anyone who is a woman, or who cares about freedom under civil law should beware, for we, the women of America who value our control over our own bodies, are under attack, and there seems to be no real end to this assault on freedom to control our own bodies in sight.

 
 
By Shannon Barber; “Changing the world, one mind at a time.”