Posts Tagged the right’s war on women
It’s Labor Day weekend, and where I live, that is a big deal, and the big deal takes up a lot of space and makes a lot of noise, so I’m kind of hiding in my apartment for most of the weekend to avoid the crowds who take up the sidewalks and the random motorists who don’t know how to get to the mall. Right? Right. Meanwhile, Representative Roscoe Bartlett, from my very own state of Maryland, is not thinking very clearly about the way he answers questions regarding abortion rights:
“Oh, life of the mother – exception of life of the mother, rape and incest. Yeah, I’ve always — that’s a mantra, you know, I’ve said it so often it just spills out,” he said. “If you really – there are very few pregnancies as a result of rape, fortunately, and incest — compared to the usual abortion, what is the percentage of abortions for rape? It is tiny. It is a tiny, tiny percentage.” …. [I]n terms of the percentage of pregnancies, percentage of abortions for rape as compared to overall abortions, it’s a tiny, tiny percentage,” Bartlett said. [...]
“Most abortions, most abortions are for what purpose? They just don’t want to have a baby! The second reason for abortion is you’d like a boy and it’s a girl, or vice versa. And I know a lot of people are opposed to abortion who are pro-choice,” Bartlett said.
I think that a pregnant woman who “just [doesn't] want to have a baby!” has a very good reason to have an abortion. I want babies to be welcome family members to invested, enthusiastically consenting mommies and their partners.* If a woman gets pregnant accidentally and simply doesn’t want the child, she is not a moral failure for getting an abortion. The fewer women who have babies just because they forgot their birth control, the higher percentage of children born to parents who actually want to have children, and therefore put a bit of thought and effort into taking care of them, the fewer children who are neglected or abused. In this regard, abortion is not a tragedy, much less is it a crime. Abortion prevents tragedy. It is much easier to say to new parents, “You have a baby, now take care of it” if they actively decided to bring that child into existence.
The second “reason” is just bunk. Sex-selection is not a major problem in America. Where sex-selection is an issue, it’s in cultures that value boys more than girls, and where girls’ lives are, let’s face it, kind of shitty. Where pregnant women don’t have the option of aborting female embryos, their daughters are up against infant exposure, abandonment, malnutrition and medical neglect. This is a much bigger problem than what their mothers want. It’s also about their fathers and grandparents, as well as the other families around them. People like Roscoe Bartlett seem to think that a society will somehow become less misogynistic if women are told that their lives have no value except for making ALL THE BABIES. People like me seem to think that if a culture views daughters as equally valuable children as sons, then terminating pregnancies just to avoid having girls will no longer be an issue. With that in mind, we seem to think that if those daughters are allowed to decide what to do with their grown-up lives, including how many children to have (if any), that will do a lot more for women’s place in society than just forcing women to give birth to daughters when their in-laws are violently determined to have grandsons.
His final sentence is just nonsense. “Opposed to abortion who are pro-choice”? No. You’re making shit up. You’re just opening your mouth and letting noise come out. If abortion is not an option, there is no such thing as pro-choice.
*And gay daddies. I think fertile young women should not be coerced into continuing their unwanted pregnancies for the benefit of any couple in want of a child. But if a woman decides to make a baby for a gay couple, or any infertile couple that wants a baby, that’s awesome. What’s important is that babies have families that really want them.
Ever notice how pretty much every advocacy organization in this country which includes the word “family” in its name is focused on misogyny, homophobia and racism? If we see it in the plural form, then it might be okay, such as “healthy families” or “women and families,” but in singular, it’s nearly always bad news. Groups like Family Research Council are full of terrible proposals for women and children, and they keep repeating this word “family” to make horribleness sound nice.
The House GOP just passed a reauthorization of VAWA with all the good new stuff taken out.
In past years, VAWA enjoyed bipartisan support and garnered little controversy. This time around, however, top Religious Right groups have rallied against the bill due to the protections it would extend to immigrant, Native American, and LGBT victims of domestic abuse. These groups, including the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, Eagle Forum, and the Southern Baptist Convention’sEthics and Religious Liberty Commission, made noise on Capitol Hill and are most directly responsible for the events that will unfold in the House today.
And…what do these people have to say? Concerned Women for America took the lead in writing to Senators:
We, the undersigned, representing millions of Americans nationwide, are writing today to oppose the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This nice-sounding bill is deceitful because it destroys the family by obscuring real violence in order to promote the feminist agenda. […]There is no denying the very real problem of violence against women and children. However, the programs promoted in VAWA are harmful for families. VAWA often encourages the demise of the family as a means to eliminate violence.Further, this legislation continues to use overly broad definitions of domestic violence. These broad definitions actually squander the resources for victims of actual violence by failing to properly prioritize and assess victims. Victims who can show physical evidence of abuse should be our primary focus.
They use “family” to mean that it’s better for children to grow up watching Daddy beat Mommy to a pulp (and possibly put her in an early grave) than to help Mommy take the kids and get away from Daddy. Such situations often also involve violence on children, but I suppose it would be so much worse for children to grow up without their fathers:
In 1998, Johnson was arrested by the Perrysburg Police, again on domestic violence charges. According to the police report, Johnson provided a “very similar” account of the incident to that his wife Ofelia and 14-year-old son gave police. Both wife and son reported that Johnson had Ofelia Felix-Johnson in a wrist lock, and when the son attempted to stop Johnson from hurting his mother, Johnson put the son in a head lock such that he was “unable to breathe and was choking up food,” according to the police report. After the son broke free, the police report continues, Johnson “put his right hand around [the boy's] throat and pushed [him] against the wall with his back to the wall and choked [the boy] for about 5 seconds.”
Timothy Johnson is one of the people who signed the letter opposing the Senate’s version of VAWA. Yes, I’m sure a convicted wife-batterer and child-batterer would know all about the demise of families.
In a sane world, a phrase like “family values” would bring up a commitment to caring for your kids, loving your partner, being there for your siblings and taking care of your elderly parents and grandparents. In public policy discussions, “family values” should refer to policies that empower people to build and maintain healthy family relations, but there is no room for battering in a healthy family. Part of caring for your kids is not beating up their other parent. Part of caring for your kids is also raising them in an environment in which you, and they, are not subjected to violence.
To say it “destroys the family” to empower battered women to leave their abusers assumes that a family no longer exists if the husband and father is no longer in it. It assumes that upholding a man’s relationship to his wife and children—even if the relationship is a toxic one—is more important than allowing women and children to live without battering. If that’s what “family” means, then, fuck it: I’m promoting the Feminist Agenda. Concerned Women for America can go concern themselves right off a short pier.
While the “every sperm is sacred” amendment is clever, I would like to propose something that can actually be enforced, and which would give the legislators in question a chance to put their love of children into practice. It would be an answer to this question here:
Between the years of 1907 and 2008, only 77 women have been elected to the Oklahoma state legislature, and currently less than 20 is serving out of a total 149. But who better to pass laws about women’s bodies than a group of men who will never have to worry about the consequences of their religious zealotry?
Who says they won’t have to worry about the consequences of their religious zealotry?
The next time a state legislature is frothing up one of these “defeat the scourge of women who are not perennially pregnant” bills, let’s attach an amendment that creates the following conditions:
1. The state will allow for Safe Haven dropoffs of infants up to 30 days. The state will similarly provide special shelters for homeless pregnant women and girls.
2. The state will release to the public the home addresses of all the state lawmakers who voted Yes on the bill.
3. All of those lawmakers’ homes will be considered Safe Haven zones for unwanted newborns AND special shelters for pregnant women and girls facing parental rejection, domestic violence and extreme poverty. Those homes will be held legally responsible for the safe placement of all newborns left at their doors and for the provision of shelter, food, clothing, medical care and protection from violent partners for all pregnant females seeking assistance.
You think babies are so awesome that women should be legally forced to gestate and birth indefinitely? They’ll be coming (both the women and the babies) to your doorstep. Have plenty of beds ready.
Gov. Heineman really does not want any “anchor babies” in his state:
Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman vetoed a proposal to restore Medicaid-funded prenatal care for illegal immigrants on Friday, but the initiative could still survive if the state legislature rejects his move next week.
And, what is his reasoning?
Heineman, who is anti-abortion, also said he had “grave concerns” that some funding could go to abortion provider Planned Parenthood and that Nebraska could become a sanctuary for illegal immigrants because no bordering states offered similar coverage.
Let’s go over that again: he’s vetoing Medicaid coverage for prenatal care for undocumented women, because Planned Parenthood provides prenatal care.
He doesn’t like abortion, but he also doesn’t want undocumented women having babies in his state, and he is afraid that if he does not join neighboring states in a race to the bottom, then additional money will end up with Planned Parenthood because they care about pregnant women and their eagerly awaited babies far more than Dave Heineman does.
Tim Murphy at Mother Jones gives us a fresh tally of Congressional GOPers who hate women, this time focusing on undocumented immigrants held in detention facilities where living conditions include high risk of sexual abuse by guards. The issue is that the Obama administration has new rules for ensuring that ICE facilities don’t brutalize their detainees quite so hard, and the House Committee on the Judiciary is now acting like we’re spoiling those lousy furriners like they’re actual people or something.
Lamar “Holiday on ICE” Smith (R-Texas) hates women!
Elton Gallegy (R-California) hates women!
Steve King (R-Iowa) fucking hates ALL those damn illegals!
We wouldn’t want America to be one of those countries that doesn’t suck in how it treats foreigners.
Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times has very nicely put together a handy round-up of people who hate women, as shown by their reactions to the latest renewal of the Violence Against Women Act. You’d think that protecting women from abusive, violent partners would be something that any politician would happily get behind, but this time, the Act includes some provisions that some GOP Senators and other defenders of Family Values just can’t stomach. The offending items include but are not limited to:
The legislation would continue existing grant programs to local law enforcement and battered women shelters, but would expand efforts to reach Indian tribes and rural areas. It would increase the availability of free legal assistance to victims of domestic violence, extend the definition of violence against women to include stalking, and provide training for civil and criminal court personnel to deal with families with a history of violence. It would also allow more battered illegal immigrants to claim temporary visas, and would include same-sex couples in programs for domestic violence.
Can you see where this is going?
Emily Horowitz tells us about a case that’s sure to make hundreds of thousands of women make appointments to have their tubes tied. Despite a total lack of scientific evidence, prosecutors in South Carolina are charging Stephanie Greene with the murder of her fourth child, 5-week-old daughter Alexis, because Stephanie was nursing Alexis while taking prescription painkillers.
Stephanie lives in Campobello, South Carolina. Prosecutors allege that Stephanie took so much prescription medication that her daughter Alexis died of a morphine overdose ingested via breast milk. The coroner’s report shows the cause of death as drug overdose, because the infant had an elevated blood level of morphine. The case is complicated, because there is no question that Stephanie takes a significant amount of prescription medication for physical ailments (i.e. fibromyalgia, chronic pain, high blood pressure) resulting from a car accident, including MS Contin (a drug that metabolizes as morphine).
I am still not 100% healthy and snark-ready, but since I am alert enough to troll Facebook, I will make a little addition to this post here, from way back.
Via Facebook, Defund the Komen Foundation gives us this tidbit, from a retired cancer researcher:
“Recently at a conference I spoke with the person who discovered BRCA1, and she laughed and said that it [the abortion/breast cancer link] was indeed bullshit, because he hadn’t corrected for age. In the study that the guy cited, the women who had abortions had the procedures done when they were young but then had children later in their lives. The comparison population was women who had children when they were young, and there is a degree of protection against breast cancer afforded from having children at a young age (believed due to hormonal changes that accompany lactation). When one corrects for the age of childbirth in the guys data, the difference disappears. So abortion had no effect on breast cancer at all; it was the effect of when the women had children.”
Yet that initial, incorrect story persists, because it fits the meme.”
Yeah, the meme is that being in control of your fertility is associated with a somewhat higher lifetime risk of certain cancers. And yet, women continue to use birth control, as if we have priorities in life aside from placating the Booby Spirits. Those fickle demons are unreliable, and their rewards are no substitute for having ownership over our lives.
If you follow the women’s health/reproductive rights community, you’ve probably heard about this:
But apparently those women no longer matter as Komen’s support has now been withdrawn. Last month, the national office of the Komen Foundation, which maintains tight control over its state affiliates, sent a memo barring those affiliates from using money they had raised at the local level to partner with Planned Parenthood clinics in improving access to breast exams.
It’s no secret that anti-choice legislators at the state and national level have made Planned Parenthood the central focus of their anti-woman agenda, spending well over half of entire legislative sessions in some states focused on cutting funding and limiting access to reproductive health services. At the national level, the ongoing witch hunt aimed at PPFA has taken many forms, one of which includes a “Congressional inquiry” launched by House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.). Stearns sent a letter to PPFA in late September 2011 asking for an avalanche of documents to “investigate” whether PPFA has used federal funds to provide abortion services.
What does Stearns have to do with Komen? Anti-choice groups have long targeted Komen for its partnership with Planned Parenthood, in part by haranguing the organization and listing them as targets of various protests and boycotts, and in part by touting the medically-disproven and specious claims about non-existent links between abortion and breast cancer. A group known as Life Decisions International (LDI), the website of which is “fightpp.org,” has long had Komen on its boycott list.
These efforts hardly appear to have affected Komen’s bottom line since the foundation’s total gross revenue in 2010 was nearly $421 million, only several hundred thousand dollars of which were granted over the past five years by Komen’s state affiliates to local Planned Parenthood partners for education, screening, and referrals. Moreover, as a large and well-known organization (albeit one criticized for its work on many levels) Komen appeared until now to stay above the ideological mud-pit of the anti-choice movement.
Last fall, however, things began to change. LDI began quietly telling other anti-choice groups that it had “won” the battle with Komen and that they should await public announcement of a policy change.
And suddenly, Cliff Stearns’ inquiry became a reason for the Komen national office to change what state affiliates could do with their funds. Komen’s board recently approved a new policy stating that affiliates can only provide grant funds to other organizations if:
• The applicant is not currently debarred from the receipt of federal or state funding.
• No key personnel of applicant or any of its affiliates has been convicted of fraud or a crime involving any other financial or administrative impropriety within the last year.
• The applicant or any of its affiliates is not currently under a local, state or federal formal investigation for financial or administrative impropriety or fraud. (“Affiliate” means any entities that control, are controlled by, or are under the same control as applicant or independent entities operating under the same name or brand as applicant.)
While the policy ostensibly affects “any” organization to which Komen affiliates might grant money, the memo sent to state affiliates specifically targets Planned Parenthood.
“Currently, however, various authorities at both the state and federal levels are conducting investigations involving [Planned Parenthood] and some of its local chapters, and the organization is barred from receiving government funding in numerous states. Under these new criteria, Planned Parenthood will be ineligible to receive new funding from Komen until these investigations are complete and these issues are resolved.”
But these are lies and innuendo: There are no “authorities” investigating Planned Parenthood and Planned Parenthood is not barred from receiving federal government funding in any state. No mature organization concerned about the health and well-being of women at risk of breast cancer would have created a policy targeting another respected organization with a record of saving untold lives.
But Komen can no longer claim the mantle of a respected organization. First, Komen last year hired Karen Handel, a former Georgia anti-choice gubernatorial candidate and Sarah Palin acolyte who promised as part of her platform to defund Planned Parenthood and other vital health services. Handel, who lost her race but is said to have future political ambitions, is now Senior Vice President for Policy at Komen. She was originally endorsed in her race by and received money from current GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney, with whom some sources suggest she remains closely allied. Romney, in turn, has suddenly become more anti-choice than thou and has promised a federal personhood amendment as well as to defund Planned Parenthood.
Second, sitting on Komen’s Advocacy Alliance Board is Jane Abraham, the General Chairman of the virulently anti-choice and anti-science Susan B. Anthony List and of its Political Action Committee. Among other involvements, Abraham helps direct the Nurturing Network, a global network of crisis pregnancy centers, organizations widely known for spreading ideology, misinformation and lies to women facing unintended pregnancy and to use both intimidation and coercion in the course of doing so. Also on the board of Nurturing Network is Maureen Scalia, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, no hero to women’s rights and health.