The Watering Hole, Monday, March 26th, 2012: The Republican War on Women, Part 1

The Republican’s war on women’s rights is being waged so quickly that it’s been hard to keep up with every skirmish. I began writing about it in my columns in the Pawling Press several weeks ago. The following is the first of these columns, as published in the Pawling Press on Friday, February 24th, 2012:

“Personhood vs Women’s Rights”

On both the Federal and the State levels, Republican legislators have been attempting to limit women’s reproductive rights and personal freedoms. Since January of 2011, twenty-eight pieces of legislation have been introduced, considered, or passed in either the House or the Senate, aiming to chip away at the currently legal access to abortion and family-planning services. In the last few years, fourteen states either have tried to pass, or are about to pass, “Personhood” legislation declaring that human life begins at the moment of conception.

On February 16th, the Oklahoma State Senate passed SB-1433, which in part states:

“1. The life of each human being begins at conception;”
“2. Unborn children have protectable interests in life, health, and well-being;
“C. The laws of this state shall be interpreted and construed to acknowledge on behalf of the unborn child at every stage of development all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of this state.”
“E. Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as creating a cause of action against a woman for indirectly harming her unborn child by failing to properly care for herself or by failing to follow any particular program of prenatal care.”

Oklahoma State Medical Association spokesman Wes Glinsmann, describing the Association’s opposition to the bill, stated, “As broad and vaguely worded as it was, we are concerned about some of the unintended consequences regarding contraception, in vitro fertilization, ectopic pregnancies, things of that nature.”

According to the Tulsa News, State Senator Brian Crain, the author of the Oklahoma bill, “…said the measure will not outlaw abortion because the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, is still on the books.” However, after reading SB-1433 (and there is little more to it than what I have quoted), I do not see how Senator Crain can honestly say that the measure would not outlaw abortion. I also do not see how, since Sections ‘2’ and ‘C’ above seem to be contradicted by Section ‘E’, this law would be enforceable. If it is unenforceable, then what exactly is the point of the legislation in the first place?

Similarly-worded “personhood” legislation is pending in Virginia (SB-484.) This bill includes an “informed consent” requirement, which, in plain English, “Requires that, as a component of informed consent to an abortion, to determine gestation age, every pregnant female shall undergo ultrasound imaging…”

Any woman who has undergone ultrasound imaging for other gynecological reasons knows that it is an invasive, often painful and humiliating procedure, involving a large cold probe and lengthy poking around in one’s internal private parts. Although the excuse for mandating this procedure is to “determine gestation age”, it is a completely unnecessary requirement for a woman about to have an abortion, unless one makes the ridiculous assumption that no woman has any idea when she got pregnant.

It seems that the sole purpose of these measures is to intimidate women seeking legal abortions by placing as many hurdles as possible in their way. It is remarkable that the same people who are vehemently opposed to the Affordable Care Act (spuriously referred to as “Obamacare”) as “big government” and “putting Federal bureaucracy between a doctor and a patient” are more than willing to have the State do exactly the same thing that they decry.

Looking at the Republican Presidential candidates’ field, it now seems that Rick Santorum, who opposes even contraception due to his religious beliefs, is the front-runner. This should frighten every woman of child-bearing age who does not want her reproductive rights diminished.

I was pleased to find that a group exists called Republican Majority for Choice, whose principles seem to be more in keeping with traditional moderate Republican values. From their website:

“The Republican Majority for Choice is an organization of Republican men and women… who believe in our Party’s traditional principles of individual liberty, strong national security and sound economic reason. We endorse the ‘big tent’ philosophy of inclusion and tolerance on social issues.”
“We support the protection of reproductive rights, including the full range of reproductive options. We believe that personal and medical decisions are best made between a woman, her doctor and her family and out of the hands of government. We are deeply concerned with direction of our Party if it continues to endorse a social agenda that is both intrusive and alienating. Our Party is naively discounting its mainstream members for those who represent the extreme right and believe it is their way or no way.”

This is what Republicans USED to stand for; why have so many of them strayed so far to the extreme right? For a party which touts itself as the party of personal freedom and small government, this interference in women’s lives and basic privacy should be against everything they supposedly believe.

Parts 2 and 3 to be posted shortly…

This is our daily open thread — What’s on your mind?

69 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Monday, March 26th, 2012: The Republican War on Women, Part 1

    • I agree. To accuse them of being Stepford wives is not sufficient. To accuse them of masochism is not sufficient.
      I don’t know how to categorize women who vote Republican when it is against their own interests culturally, socially and economically. It is maddening and frustrating.

      • In other news, a 32 year old mother of 5 was beaten to death with a tire iron in her own home because she was Muslim. (HT TP)

  1. I remember well the ERA days, and could not fathom how ANYONE, male or female, could ever be against equal rights for all people regardless of anything at all. And yet, the ERA never was ratified, not because of inattention but because of enough opposition to effectively get in the way. And a significant part of that opposition came from women themselves, generally those who for reasons I cannot comprehend supported the silliness of one Phyllis Schlafly, a genuine leader AGAINST the concept of equal rights for women.

    I’ll never understand how the hell she managed to snag even a single female supporter for her ridiculous premise, much less how she became a leader of a women’s “movement.” Can anyone help me comprehend? I mean, women in non-support of equal rights for women makes as much sense as if blacks wanted slavery back. How dumb can dumb get? How blank can a slate be? (I know, I could ask Mitt Romney).

    • I remember that woman during her heyday and as a very young woman, I recall being repulsed by her and what she advocated. She is/was a mean-spirited hypocrite who seemed to take pleasure in advocating the subjugation of women.

    • I remember finding out what “feminism” was about when I was in my early teens, and being perplexed that there were women who were NOT feminists. To this day I find it perplexing, especially since I am the only woman in my family who accepted the title!

      I better understand the reasons (excuses) they give these days, but it still smacks of self-loathing.

  2. The bill is not irreconcilable:

    “E. Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as creating a cause of action against a woman for indirectly harming her unborn child by failing to properly care for herself or by failing to follow any particular program of prenatal care.”

    “Cause of action” refers to a civil suit. I.e. the child, once born, cannot sue the mother for being harmed in utero…crack babies come to mind.

    But Section E does not preclude criminal charges. Hence all miscarriages may be charged as the crime of involuntary manslaughter.

    Now, put this draconian measure together with the efforts to outlaw birth control – and we have to invest now in building a lot more women’s prisons. (or did I just anticipate part 2 or 3?)

  3. I wonder how long it will be before Republicans start dropping hints that the 19th Amendment ought to be repealed?

    After all, they hold the Founding Fathers in such reverence, they want to go back to those idylic times when only white men who owned property could vote, when a woman could no own property in her own name, but was instead the property of her father, then her husband.

    We still have the tradition of the father of the bride giving his daughter away to be wed…

  4. Sometime this afternoon, I’ll post the other two columns. I’m home today and tomorrow, but I have some errands to run before I can settle back down at the computer.

    And, sadly, I have to finish writing my final column for the paper. I’m taking a jab at as many of the apocalyptic predictions that I can remember that the Republicans made when Obama took office.

  5. Even though I predicted the Supreme Court would uphold the individual mandate in the health care reform law, I do hope they strike that portion of the law. That was written to appease/profit the insurance industry. If it is stricken, we will have to, once again, look as single-payer or universal healthcare.

  6. Sorry, I won’t be posting anything later today.

    Our nephew, Adam, was killed in a car accident on his way to work this morning. He works at our office with Wayne and I. We are completely devastated. Adam is the son that we would have had if we had had kids.

    Wayne emailed Zooey, but he didn’t realize that she was on the road, so I figured that I would let everyone know here.

  7. Condolences Jane, Wayne, and your families. Life is a tough bargain to accept in a time you are experiencing like this. Take care.

      • Now that they know the young man had been suspended from school for pot (gasp!), the right wing demonization frenzy will escalate.

        • And Zimmerman’s released a story that Trayvon attacked him and tried to get his gun away. (The last part may be true, in as much as you don’t want a crazy person pointing a gun at you.)

          And Zimmerman’s black friend says Zimmerman is deeply upset by all this. Ask Trayvon’s parents what “upset” feels like.

        • If the police had arrested Zimmerman and conducted a proper investigation, then the courts would be deailing with this instead its being played out on Twitter and now on the Endless Talking Heads shows. The chances of justice emerging for Martin and a fair trial, if there will ever be one, for Zimmerman have already faded. The end of a young man’s life is now a circus, we’re runing out of red noses to pass out at the tent flap and the gauntlet of hucksters and snake oil salesmen along the way is becoming daunting.

    • He’s going to stick around even though he was trounced in a Southern state, supposedly his strength. If he quits now he loses all that free publicity and talk show (Fox) guest spots. From WaMo:

      You have to appreciate that Newt still views himself as a world-historical figure, a colossus straddling two centuries whose greatness will be validated by his fellow-historians. His head regularly has to be deflated before entering rooms, a service that has drained far too much of his limited campaign resources. If he goes quietly, it won’t be out of any sense of self-proportion or party loyalty, but because it serves his own interests.

      • “a colossus straddling two centuries whose greatness will be validated by his fellow-historians. “

        More like a collossus straddling two centuries with his genitalia hanging in between, sandwiched between his hypocritical impeachment of President Clinton and his love of Bush, whose greatness will be violated by his fellow historians.

          • [NARRATOR] Tonight, the part of the StaPuft Marshmallow Man will be played by Newt Gingich

            Dr. Egon Spengler: There’s something very important I forgot to tell you.
            Dr. Peter Venkman: What?
            Dr. Egon Spengler: Don’t cross the streams.
            Dr. Peter Venkman: Why?
            Dr. Egon Spengler: It would be bad.
            Dr. Peter Venkman: I’m fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean, “bad”?
            Dr. Egon Spengler: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.
            Dr Ray Stantz: Total protonic reversal.
            Dr. Peter Venkman: Right. That’s bad. Okay. All right. Important safety tip. Thanks, Egon.
            ***
            [a giant marshmallow man crashes through the streets of New York]
            Dr. Peter Venkman: Well, there’s something you don’t see every day.
            ***
            Dr. Egon Spengler: I have a radical idea. The door swings both ways, we could reverse the particle flow through the gate.
            Dr. Peter Venkman: How?
            Dr. Egon Spengler: [hesitates] We’ll cross the streams.
            Dr. Peter Venkman: ‘Scuse me Egon? You said crossing the streams was bad!
            Dr Ray Stantz: Cross the streams…
            Dr. Peter Venkman: You’re gonna endanger us, you’re gonna endanger our client – the nice lady, who paid us in advance, before she became a dog…
            Dr. Egon Spengler: Not necessarily. There’s definitely a *very slim* chance we’ll survive.
            [pause while they consider this]
            Dr. Peter Venkman: [slaps Ray] I love this plan! I’m excited to be a part of it! LET’S DO IT!

        • HEY! We don’ want an obese has been politician befouling the pristineness that surrounds the sortofdormant volcanic wonder in the NW!

    • Her (Facebook page) comments don’t have that ol’ word salad flavor of hers.
      Wonder if someone else has taken over the writing chores.

  8. Last week Newt called for an open convention. Walter Shapiro brings him back to earth with a thud:

    “[Gingrich] will go through the motions of campaigning while visiting zoos (I suspect the Milwaukee County Zoo will merit a pre-primary visit) and dining in plush hotel restaurants with Callista. When the primaries are finally over, Gingrich may even be given a brief prime-time slot at the Tampa Convention if he effusively endorses the nominee and pledges not to gush about beach volleyball as he did at the 1996 GOP Convention. But the dream that has defined Newt Gingrich’s life for more than a half century ended Saturday without fanfare in the Louisiana bayous.”

    • Note he sports the ‘royal purple’ tie a great deal of the time. That goes with the inflated ego that thinks he may be king!

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