This post is not about books. I am a pro-choice, feminist woman. I will be talking about sex, and pregnancy, and incredibly dickish Republican politicians, and other things related to my incandescent fury at the ongoing Republican roll-back of constitutionally protected abortion and other reproductive rights in the Red States. If you don’t care what I think, this would be a good time to stop reading. If you’ve had your head under a rock and have missed the fact that the Republican party is engaged in an all-out war on women’s reproductive rights at the individual state level, this would be a good time to pull your head out.
Tomorrow’s post will be about Anne of Avonlea. The one after that will be about Middlemarch.
I don’t do this political thing very often. But when I do, it tends to be long, and ragey. Sorry.
So, what do John Kasich, Rick Perry, Terry Branstad, and Sam Brownback all have in common? They are all middle-aged, male Republican governors of states where the Republican controlled legislatures have passed, or are in the process of passing, sweeping new laws rolling back abortion rights.
John Kasich of Ohio just signed a budget that somehow – although how it has any thing to do with the state’s budget, I do not know – made abortion illegal after 20 weeks, created regulations which require abortion clinics to do something that it then makes it illegal for them to do, requiring rape crisis centers who receive public funding to never tell rape victims that they could abort a pregnancy that results from a sexual assault, and which requires that women who seek a legal abortion to undergo and pay for an ultrasound that they neither need nor want.
And look, here he is signing the budget, surrounded by a group of extremely supportive women, also known as “uterus-bearing constituents” or “speech-capable reproductive devices” who are totally in agreement with him on his plans to gut abortion rights and interfere with women’s health care. Oh, wait, those aren’t women, are they? It’s a bunch of old guys who can’t get pregnant at all. Is there a woman anywhere in that room? Anywhere? No. Apparently in Ohio, signing laws that impact women’s health care doesn’t need to involve those individuals who might actually have an interest in women’s health care. Not even so they can act as witness when you dismantle their rights.
Look, ma, no speech-capable reproductive devices. I mean, girls!
In Texas, Rick Perry, whom the inimitable Molly Ivins used to call Governor Goodhair, has called a second special legislative session, to the tune of approximately $800,000.00 to pass the very same anti-abortion legislation that failed the first time around when it was filibustered by the sneaker-wearing woman heard round the world, Democratic Senator Wendy Davis.
Senator Davis heroically discusses the pitfalls of the bill into the 11th hour. Literally. And in pink sneakers.
Texas is big, and proud, and apparently Governor Perry doesn’t want to be left behind his fellow Republican governors in their rampage to see how much control over their State’s uteruses, natural resources which are unfortunately embedded inside of actual female human beings, they can personally exert. Although, he’s got a ways to go to catch up with Iowa’s Governor, Terry Branstad. I’ll get to that a minute.
Because the Texas bill wouldn’t just make abortion harder to get, it would make contraception less available for poor women. And God knows, as does the Republican leadership, that poor women should not be having sex. They simply aren’t wealthy enough to engage in that little pleasure of life. It’s not enough that the Republicans have already handed over most of America’s wealth to the wealthy through their regressive tax policies, and their “privatize profits/socialize losses” crony capitalism economics. Now they want to make sure that the rich people – especially middle-aged, rich, male people like them – get all of the sex, one of the few remaining pleasures available for free to the poor, as well as to the rich.
Let it be known henceforth that non-procreative, just-for-fun sex is a perk of being a middle-aged politician – like South Carolina’s formerly-married-Republican-governor-turned-Republican-senator and Appalachian trail explorer, Mark Sanford. Anyway, I digress. Back to Governor Perry – the man just wants to be Commander-in-Chief, and, after all, he has great hair, an obviously necessary qualification for the American presidency.
Great hair. Vacant expression. Our 45th President? Fingers crossed!
Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas, in April, signed new and sweeping restrictions on abortion rights in Kansas. Restrictions that require doctors to actually lie to women and tell them that abortion causes breast cancer (it does not). Do they think we are stupid? Seriously, ladies, they do. Republican politicians think women are stupid.
Perhaps it’s time that we stopped being stupid and voting for them. Maybe?
Kansas women just say no to Governor Brownback.
Governor Brownback just says no to Kansas women.
But, let’s move on to Iowa. Because, in Iowa – and this one may actually win the prize for most breathtakingly arrogant exercise of individual authority over a uterus belonging to someone else – Governor Terry Branstad is now personally responsible for deciding whether poor women can receive a Medicaid funded abortion. He really is a hands-on governor! And the people that he has his hands on? Iowans: poor and female.
Are you a victim of incest, and your abuser, I mean your father, is refusing to pay for your abortion (or, possibly, is in jail where he belongs) so you need Medicaid to pay for it? Who decides if you qualify, or if you’ll be the only seventh-grader in your class giving birth to your sister-slash-daughter at some point in the not-all-that-terribly-distant future but definitely prior to starting eighth grade? Ask Governor Branstad. Before he decides on your request, he wants to know more about this “D-minus” in American History.
Were you forcibly raped at gun point, and you’re on Medicaid, and the rapist impregnated you? Do you want an abortion so you aren’t required to cede control of your body for the next nine months, and control of your life for the next, well, forever, to the rapist? Ask Governor Branstad. Don’t forget to say the magic words! And the magic words are: legitimate rape!
Are you carrying a fetus that is so tragically and devastatingly deformed that carrying the pregnancy to term will result in the birth of a baby who will die within hours or days? Do you, and your husband, your doctor, and everyone personally relevant to the question know that it is in your best interest, and the interest of your family, and your living children, and your future, to have an abortion? If you are wealthy, you don’t need to ask Governor Branstad for his permission. But you’re not – you are poor, and on Medicaid, and therefore, the guy with the mustache and glasses depicted below – he gets to decide. Not you. Not your husband. Not your doctor. You are all irrelevant. Ask Governor Branstad. No medical degree, no problem. Governor Branstad knows what’s best for you!
He does plan to be “thoughtful” about it, though, so you can take comfort in that. He also hopes to reduce the number of abortions funded by Medicaid every year. Which of my examples doesn’t get her abortion approved so that Governor Branstadt can make his constituents think he’s a good, god-fearing-upstanding-Christian man? Anyone want to guess that the answer is: all of the above, along with, possibly, a nice greeting card about making lemonade from lemons when he denies your request.
He’s not a doctor. He just plays one at his desk in the Governor’s mansion, making health care decisions on behalf of certain Iowa women.
And there are other states as well. North Carolina, where legislation requiring health teachers to lie to their students about the long-term effects of abortion has been proposed. “Long-term effects” that don’t actually exist, that are unsupported by scientific evidence, and that are not consistent with what actual doctors – not just the Republican legislators who impersonate them at their desks in Capitol buildings everywhere – say is the truth. North Dakota, where abortion has been banned past six weeks of pregnancy. Alabama, which just passed a law that would shut down the last remaining abortion clinic.
Wait, what, you say? I thought that I was told that the Republicans favored “small government.” That they were all about jobs, jobs, jobs. Jobs are job one. Government needs to stay out people’s lives! Government has no business in health care! Isn’t that what the media told us that the Republicans believe? Certainly when it comes to health reform, the mantra was “keep your Government hands off my health care.” I didn’t realize that the subtitle was “unless your hands contain an ultrasound probe, and I am a woman of child-bearing age.”
Who knew that the new Republican mantra was: “a government small enough to drown in a bathtub, but big enough to probe every possibly pregnant uterus in every Republican controlled state in America.”
Is ownership of one of these now a prerequisite for high Republican office?
You can buy your own at Wal-Mart. It’s where all of the cool Republican politicians go for their tools to force their state’s uterus-bearing constituents into involuntary pregnant servitude.
I mean, last August, just before the election, the Dayton Daily News in Ohio (yes, that Ohio. The one that just shoved a bunch of abortion restrictions into their budget) swore up and down that the Republicans were focused on jobs.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich told Ohio reporters in Tampa that social issues are important, but improving the economy and creating jobs is the focus of this election.
“The social issues are important but the overriding moral issue in America today is job creation,” Kasich said. “That’s what makes families healthier. This election is going to be won or lost on the basis of who is going to improve the fortunes of Ohio families and American families.”
Apparently, in Ohio, and pretty much everywhere else that the government is controlled by Republicans, that’s nothing more than lies to keep women in their place. We know they aren’t afraid to lie to us, because they do it every day.
They lie about wanting to reduce the number of abortions, while simultaneously restricting, or even ending, access to contraception. They lie about being concerned about women’s health, while they force doctors lie to their women patients. They mandate that doctors perform unnecessary and invasive procedures – sometimes involving vaginal penetration – and lie to us, saying that the procedures are for our own good, even when there is absolutely no medical reason for them. And then, in the ultimate example of adding insult to injury, they make us pay our doctors to lie to us, and to perform those procedures that if they were committed by anyone other than our doctors would constitute criminal sexual assault.
I would like to say that I believe that people – men and women both – won’t stand for it. That the small and vocal minority who believe that rape victims should be forced to carry their rapist’s child to term will not prevail. That the small and vicious minority who think that the forced penetration of women who want to avail themselves of their constitutionally protected right to abortion is an appropriate means of deterrence will ultimately be voted out of public office. That those who believe that men and fetuses have an absolute right to life, while women have only a qualified right to life, subject to the current condition of their reproductive organs, will be roundly and firmly rejected.
And, if the current activity in Texas is an indicator, maybe there is hope.
Everything is bigger in Texas. Even the protests.
But I have no confidence in any of this, because the voters have shown again, and again, and again, that they will fall for the bullshit. That they will swallow Republican lies about small government, and all of the rest of it for all time, unendingly, as they return Republicans to power, so they can, in fits and starts, sometimes with great leaps forward, like during this long, hot summer of 2013, work tirelessly to deny and dismantle and erode and encumber and hamper and hinder and obstruct and rescind and revoke and restrain the rights of women and their access to reproductive health care, contraception, and abortion.
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