Rights for Women

I admit it’s far easier to write a review of the latest Thud and Dunder Hollywood blockbuster, or talk about the latest video game and why the Mass Effect 3 ending sucked so bad, and being able to point readers toward a terrific book is one of my favorite things to do here on the blog.  But sometimes the world intrudes and I have to talk about unpleasant topics — like the all out assault on women’s rights that is currently underway in this country.  This is a story that has many threads that all come together into one terribly ugly quilt that is it’s best case makes women second class citizens in terms of their earning abilities (http://www.forbes.com/sites/meghancasserly/2013/02/14/gender-pay-gap-wider-2012-and-its-great-for-women/), and their rights to make health decisions for themselves, and in the worst case enslaves and imprisons them.

I’m going to start with a little story, but bear with me there is a point to this.  (I feel like Jolee in Knights of the Old Republic.  There, there’s the obligatory nod to games).  Back when I was in law school we were required to do a clinical program dealing with real clients and real courts.  I ended up a public defender at a place called Centro Legal.  We handled low level cases — DUI, minor marijuana possession, that kind of thing.  What I learned during that summer in a very visceral and in my-face-way was there is one kind of justice for the poor and minorities and it’s too often brutal and demeaning.  I also discovered that most of my clients shared a particular mental quirk — the seemed utterly unable to predict consequences.  The idea that if they did A B would inevitably follow seemed to elude them.

I see this same mental disconnect among Republicans as regards birth control and abortion.  Across the country states are making it more and more difficult for women, particularly poor women, to obtain family planning help and advice.  Sometimes this means an abortion.  Sometimes it’s getting a prescription for birth control, or a mammogram or a pap smear.  They have aggressively pushed “abstinence only” education even though in study after study it has been demonstrably proved to fail at keeping horny teenagers from “doing it”.  Surprisingly pregnancies result when unprotected sex is practiced, but sex education classes have been severely curtailed in many high schools.

Under the new ACA birth control is supposed to be provided free of charge by insurance companies to women of child bearing age as part of preventative care.  Certain companies owned by powerful right wing people have sued to be allowed to avoid this requirement on the grounds this is against their religious convictions.  Mind you these are not churches or organizations funded by churches that have been exempted from this requirement.  These are for profit companies like Hobby Lobby or Domino Farms.  (You can find a full list of the companies in this article.the-18-for-profit-companies-fighting-to-eliminate-the-birth-control-benefit)  They are claiming this under the so-called “Conscience Clause” and it is being aggressively pushed by Republicans in Congress.  Right now the courts all all over the board on their rulings, but the latest ruling by a George W. Bush appointee has struck down the ACA requirement arguing that since corporations are people they have the right to religious convictions as well.  Which is patently absurd.  Extraordinary rights are being extended to a corporation while we ignore the rights of the very real people who work for those companies and may not share the same religious beliefs or attitudes.  And these business owners are not in fact providing the birth control, insurance companies are providing this coverage.

So now we have women denied the ability to control their reproduction and decide when they wish to have a child.  Add to that the ferocious effect to make access to abortion more and more difficult in many Republican controlled states — Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas,  I could go on and on.  And here’s the disconnect comes in.  If you don’t educate teenagers, and allow kids to buy condoms and don’t allow women easy access to birth control women will get pregnant and some of them will want to have an abortion, but the Republicans profess to hate abortion so why won’t they support efforts to prevent the pregnancy in the first place?  If A happens B will result.  Simple, but it seems to elude these legislators.

Now add to this a Wisconsin law that allows the state to imprison a pregnant woman if it’s believed she is on drugs.  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/24/us/case-explores-rights-of-fetus-versus-mother.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0  Is is smart for a pregnant woman to take drugs?  No.  Are there better ways to deal with it then forcibly locking her up, assigning a lawyer for the fetus, but not for her?  Assuredly.  The result is that women become afraid to seek pre-natal care which is far more dangerous than the problem the law is meant to address.  In Virginia the Republican currently running for Attorney General of that state proposed a law that would require a women to report her miscarriage to the police within 24 hours.  mark-obenshain-miscarriage-bill_n_3307578.html.  All of these laws functionally strip virtually all rights from the woman.  One could go so far that this is reaching the point where a woman once she is pregnant can be enslaved by the state and forced to bear that child.  Are all the rights of a woman secondary to the fetus?  Is she merely an ambulatory womb without rights or volition?

Finally there is the Congressman who suggested that schools should be required to teach “appropriate gender roles”  http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2013/06/19/2182311/gingrey-teach-gender-roles/.  This was in a debate over gay marriage, but the message is clear.  Women need to know their place — in the kitchen and preferably pregnant.

Where is all of this coming from?  I think it goes back to the old Madonna/Whore dichotomy where women are concerned.  I agree with my friend, Sage Walker, a retired doctor, that of all the amazing changes and advancements in the twentieth century nothing had the impact of the birth control pill.  Not the internet, not computers, not airplanes.  Nothing had the potential to reset the societal board the way the pill did.  People could have sex just for fun.  They didn’t have to worry about sex outside of marriage.  Women could enjoy multiples partners.  Women were on an equal footing with men where sex was concerned and by extension in public life as well because when you can delay childbirth or choose to forgo it all together you can finish law school or medical school, found your own company, become an astronaut, etc. etc.  In the minds of many on the right the pill made all women “whores”, and whores must be punished.  They must be forced to get pregnant when they have sex outside of marriage.  They must be forced to bear that child even if they don’t want it, can’t afford it, even if that child was conceived in rape or incest because somehow the woman was “asking for it”.

So, yes, there is a war on women and it’s getting worse every day across the entire nation.  If any one who visits my site happens to live in Albuquerque, New Mexico please, please, please go out and vote on Tuesday November 19th.  A ban on all abortions after 20 weeks is on the ballot and it has be defeated.  It’s a small election, just some city counsellors, but this bill makes this a very big election and worth you making the effort to go and vote.  If I still lived in Albuquerque you can bet I would vote and be helping get people to the polls.  Show these people we’re not whores, we’re not mere wombs and we have rights.


8 Responses to Rights for Women

  • Melinda Snodgrass says:

    My friend Michael Okuda who I worked with on Star Trek: TNG had a great insight into how utterly crazy allowing employers to dictate your heath care actually is. My spam filter is blocking him for some reason so I’m going to copy his post from Facebook over here.

    Michael Okuda wrote — “Health care benefits are not a “gift” from my employers. As much as my wages, they are part of my earned compensation for which I work very hard. Nevertheless, my employers have no right to tell me how I may use my health care benefits, just as they have no right to tell me how to spend my pay.”

  • Melinda Snodgrass says:

    Mike also sent me this link. It’s the opening to the Newsroom Pilot. It’s Sorkin at his best. Enjoy.

  • Melinda Snodgrass says:

    My website has a problem and it’s not letting people comment. I’ve alerted my web manager and they’re on it. In the meantime here’s another comment from my friend Elene Gusch.

    “They may be making just a little more sense than you think– from their point of view, that is. The farther out members of the misnamed “right-to-life” crowd understand very well that access to contraception helps to prevent the need for abortions. The thing is, they don’t just want to outlaw abortion, they want to get rid of contraception too. They don’t want anyone to have sex outside of marriage, and they’re not necessarily crazy about the idea of sex within marriage either, unless it is specifically for procreation. (And when a married woman gets pregnant, they aren’t crazy about laws that help her keep her job, because she should be home where she belongs.) I find this all difficult to believe, but it can be seen easily when some who believe abortion is wrong work to expand access to contraception. The true believers squelch them in a hurry.

    “This is why we have to be vigilant against efforts like the 20-week ban, which can sound so reasonable to those who don’t really know what’s going on. The fight isn’t really about late-term abortion. It’s about reproductive rights, and human rights, as a whole.”

  • Eric Senabre says:

    (this was for test purpose only, as you asked !)

  • rand says:

    Yet no restrictions on Viagra or any other ED medications? Right.
    The GOP certainly can’t win elections fairly; restricting women’s rights & the rights of the young, the disabled, the poor & the minority through healthcare restrictions, cutting government assistance & voter suppression appears to be their only methods to remain in power.

  • For once you’re looking at an issue where we’re in sympathy, in that I have no liking for the old ethic of chastity and am glad to see it fading. But I do want to suggest that your historical interpretation may be incomplete. The birth control pill was really important, but sex has another consequence besides pregnancy: ugly, life-threatening diseases.

    There’s an amazing Kipling story, “Love-o’-Women,” about a soldier who has that nickname, and whose friend notices that he’s started walking oddly, like he can’t make his legs work right. And the regimental surgeon tells the soldier, “That’s what happens to a man who’s called ‘Love-o’-Women.'” And back when Kipling wrote that was about right; with sexual activity you risked sterility, paralysis, blindness, insanity, and eventual ugly death.

    So I’d add antibiotics to the pill as having brought us the sexual freedom we now enjoy.

  • Phyllis Stamps Bracken says:

    Was your mother Mary Ellen Jenkins Snodgrass from Atoka, Oklahoma?
    Staying tonight in Albuquerque, was thinking of you and wondering
    If you were my cousin?

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