The war on women’s bodies is back in full swing. The Catholic hierarchy is trying to equate contraception with abortion. And, who knew the breast cancer charity, Komen for the Cure, is run by right wing anti-abortion activists who want to destroy Planned Parenthood? The GOP is whipping up a fight over abortion, contraception and the Affordable Health Care Act because they have nothing else to run on. It’s so deja vu, like we never left the 70s.
Only this is 2012 and the world is different today. We have the Web, social media, and the fact that a majority of women in this country have used birth control and/or expect to have access to it. For example, 98% of Catholic women have at some time in their lives used birth control even though the church hierarchy forbids it.
Forced trans-vaginal ultrasounds and all male panels on contraception
The trans-vaginal ultrasound soon to be required for a legal abortion in Virginia, and the all male panel that just testified before the House on contraception, are causing outrage among women and the men who support them. This flyer seems like a blast from the past, but it is a statement by women waking up in the present. It will be fascinating to watch as a new generation of women takes on these issues in the context of social media and 24/7 cable news. For example, this photo was published on Facebook.
Meanwhile senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) has introduced an amendment to a transportation bill to allow companies, institutions or health care providers to deny contraception based on “moral conscience.” Actually, the amendment allows them to deny any health care based on their “moral conscience” i.e. mammograms, well women exams, or diabetic treatment. They can even deny care because they “morally object” to the price of that care, and, their objection doesn’t have to be based on religious belief. It appears Blunt wants CEOs to have the final say on women’s health. But right wing men and women have made a mistake because this is a fight they are going to lose. And it is a fight that will help get Obama reelected.
Obama is gaining support among women
In the last few months, Gallup polls have shown Obama gaining support among women. By way of disclosure, I am one of those progressives who have been highly critical of Obama’s corporate and bank friendly polices, his less than stellar record on civil rights, his pro oil and nuclear energy policies, and his escalation of the use of drones. Not what I signed up for. But, I can’t deny he has moved the country forward in some significant ways—not as much as I would like, or as much as he could have—but significant none-the-less. That said, it is extremely important that he and other Democrats win in November to stop the damage that will happen to this country if the GOP keeps the House and gains control of the Senate and the White House.
So, not only will I vote for Obama, I will enthusiastically work on his campaign. If he doesn’t win, and if Democrats lose ground in the House and Senate, (and at the state level) the reactionary Republican war on women’s bodies will continue, as will the war on social safety nets, and on children and the elderly. In our weakened economy, this right wing assault will be devastating for women, children, the elderly, and most working families. In other words, if you think things are bad now, you haven’t seen anything yet.
Republican overreach may help Obama win second term
Because of Republican overreach on social, labor and economic issues, at both the state and federal level, Democrats stand a good chance to retake the House and gain more seats in the Senate. Also, Republcians lack of enthusiasm for their current crop of presidential candidates is not helping their chances. So, even in these difficult times there is hope. It may be that our collective national consciousness is evolving toward a more humane and compassionate public policy. Having experienced the reality of right wing policies, we may be returning to a more democratic ethic that places value on public good, and leaving behind the Republican ethic of extreme individualism cynically promoted by corporate interests. The Occupy Movement has helped the 1% vs the 99% meme to enter the mainstream lexicon, and the extremism of the corporate backed Tea Party is losing it’s appeal
It could also be that we have evolved more than the GOP realizes when it comes to social issues—such as women’s reproductive rights. Polls are showing that the electorate is more progressive on these issues than loud right wing media and conservative religious institutions would have us believe. Consider the swift and vocal rebuke of the Komen Foundation’s attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, and the fact that the backlash Republcians wanted against contraception being provided by the Affordable Care Act is simply not happening. A recent CBS News/New York Times poll suggests that only Republican men oppose covering the full cost of contraception under the Affordable Health Care Act.
Sexist billionaire’s joke falls flat on MSNBC
We may be witnessing, in the draconian legislation of the radical right, a desperate grasping onto power by those who stand to lose the most, conservative white males who will eventually be in the minority of a our increasingly racially diverse nation. This group of men—who make up much of the 1%, and the hierarchy of conservative religions—still hold on to the medieval idea that they have a right to control women—their bodies, their sexuality and their reproductive capacities. They, and the misguided conservative women who insist on their own disempowerment, are becoming fossils of a reactionary past. Witness the chortling white haired billionaire who appeared on MSNBC a few days ago and suggested women use an aspirin for birth control by putting it between their knees. Not only were women not laughing at his joke, but even Republicans cringed at his insensitivity.
When awakened, women can be a powerful force in electoral politics, and it could be that reactionary Republicans have met their match. The tired old Republican wedge issues of contraception and abortion may no longer work for them.