Nel's New Day

September 9, 2012

The War on Women Continues

What do the Republicans think of women? Here are some fine examples of how little some men treasure the “fairer sex.”

Republican candidate Tom Smith of Pennsylvania, running for the House this fall, told an interviewer that having an unmarried pregnant daughter is the equivalent of having a daughter raped. Paul Ryan, running for the second highest office in the country said that rape and incest are just another “method of contraception.” This is after he refuted Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-MO) explanation of “legitimate rape.”

After Caroline Kennedy spoke at the DNC convention about the new restrictions on women’s rights, Fox’s Bill O’Reilly criticized her speech and said: “I don’t see any women’s rights under assault at all. I don’t see it.” Karl Rove, his guest, claimed, “No one is seriously talking about ending abortion.” Obviously Rove had not read the 2012 GOP platform passed a week earlier.

One GOP goal, stated in their platform and by both Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney, is defunding Planned Parenthood. Shelby County (TN) did just that: in November 2011, officials took away the $397,000 in state funding for health screenings, STD tests, and birth control and gave it to Christ Community Health Services (CCHS), a religious organization that refuses to provide abortions or refer women to other organization providing them. CCHS does not offer emergency contraception, sometimes called the day-after pill, despite no proof that these cause abortions. They are supposedly trying to create more “crisis pregnancy clinics” that offer “counselors who can discuss adoption and other life-affirming options” with women. Obviously, there is not information about abortion at these clinics.

During the year between July 2011 and June 2012, CCHS failed to use over $500,000 of the $1.3 million grant it received. In early 2012, the health services averaged 51 Title X visits per month, compared with Planned Parenthood’s 841 visits in August 2011 before they lost the funding. Yvonne Madlock, director of the county health department, justified the drop by how busy CCHS was in its transitioning. At the same time, women’s services dropped 93 percent because the county failed to fund Planned Parenthood.

Trying to keep women pregnant is the goal of Quiverfull, a Christian organization that pushes the idea that women’s purpose on Earth is to conceive and bear sons; i.e., “arrows” for God’s army. Stars of TLC’s 19 and Counting, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, are models for this group. Citing several Biblical passages, Mary Price, leader of the organization, explains in her book The Way Home: Beyond Feminism and Back to Reality  that sex for women is unnatural and causes men “to abandon the natural sexual use of the women and turn to homosexuality.”

When single-mother Vyckie Garrison gave up the Quiverfull movement after seven children, she started a blog to explain the problems with what she calls a cult. It goes much farther than just the abuse of women who are encouraged to lose their health in bearing children and provides documentation for the Quivers’ belief that the primary goal of a parent is to subdue the will of their children.

Women’s buy-in to the anti-women movement in the country can be truly horrifying. Fox News co-host Andrea Tantaros said that “no woman should aspire to be” the women’s rights activist and former Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke, who conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh called a slut because she had advocated that birth control be covered by health insurance plans. Tantaros continued, “She claims to be this smart, successful woman and she can’t afford $9 birth control?” When guest co-host Juan Williams defended Fluke because she was a student, Tantaros replied. “She’s a lazy student. She won’t get a job and pay for her own bills.” Fluke was actually testifying on behalf of a lesbian friend who couldn’t afford the oral contraception she needed to prevent ovarian cysts from forming when her university refused to pay for the medication on religious grounds.

Another example comes from Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch (R-WI) who was initially horrified at Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-MO) classification of rape as “abhorrent, insulting” and “disgusting.” She went so far as to say, “Rape is a rape. I don’t know how you can categorize it, and it’s disgusting that Todd Akin would have tried to categorize it.” That was before the interviewer told her that her own state’s GOP representative, Paul Ryan, had co-sponsored a bill with Akin to categorize some rapes as “forcible.”  She made a 180-degree turn: “Well, I think there is a way to have a more forcible rape, the same way there are different types of assault.”

Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) showed her disdain for raped and battered women when she called them “distractions” that represent only a “small portion” of South Carolina’s population. When vetoing critical funding for programs working to prevent domestic abuse and rape, she said, “It is only a small portion of South Carolina’s chronically ill or abused. Overall, these special add-on lines distract from the agency’s broader mission of protecting South Carolina’s public health.”

Another dishonest reaction came from the discussion of the GOP platform language that denies all abortions to all women even in the cases of rape, incest, and the women’s health. Several high-ranking Republicans have denied that the platform states this. Governor Bob McDonnell (R-VA) called the prevention of abortion a “detail” to be left up to states and Congress. On ABC’s This Week, he said, “The party didn’t make any judgment on that. It’s a general proposition to say we support human life.”

The GOP platform actually endorses a Human Life Amendment “to make clear that the 14th Amendment’s protections apply to all unborn children.” That means all abortions would be unconstitutional. When McDonnell appeared on the program, Romney stated that there would be exceptions for rape, incest, and the woman’s life. The next week he dropped rape and incest, and now he supports a ban on all abortions.

The icing on the cake comes from Jacqueline Hatch, an Arizona judge appointed by Republican governor Jan Brewer, when she sentenced a police officer who molested a woman in Flagstaff. Robb Gary Evans drove drunk to a bar, showed his badge to avoid paying a cover charge, and then ran his hand up a woman’s skirt over her genitals. Fired from the police force after an internal investigation, Evans was also convicted by a jury of sexual abuse, a felony with a maximum sentence of 30 months in prison. The trial judge gave him probation and 100 hours of community service. Evans is not required to register as a sex offender.

Hatch said she didn’t blame the victim but she did say that bad things can happen in bars. “If you wouldn’t have been there that night, none of this would have happened to you,” Hatch said. “I hope you look at what you’ve been through and try to take something positive out of it. You learned a lesson about friendship and you learned a lesson about vulnerability.” Hatch said that her mother used to say, “When you blame others, you give up your power to change.”

Hatch was not the only person who criticized the victim, a Flagstaff professional. Members of the community accused her of ruining the defendant’s life. “These people put their lives on the line every day,” Evan’s former partner said to the judge. “I hope you’ll be lenient on him. To me, this is one way we can give a little back to those in law enforcement who give so much to us everyday.”

“I don’t necessarily agree with the way this case got to be here,” former Flagstaff Police Lt. Randy Weems told the judge.

“When women got the right to vote is when it all went downhill,” Rush Limbaugh said on his radio show in July. “Because that’s when votes started being cast with emotion and maternal instincts that government ought to reflect.”

Republicans are now trying to dodge the growing opposition to the GOP’s control of people through banning marriage equality and women’s reproductive rights while creating a greater schism between the wealthy and the rest of the nation’s citizens. Denigrating concerns in this area through such sneering terms as “distraction” and “emotional issues,” they have generated a war against not only half the people in this country but also the poor and the minorities. The angrier the conservatives become, the more they will fail.

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