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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/10/12

Crashing at the Intersection of Women's Rights and Voting Rights

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Crashing at the Intersection of Women's Rights and Voting Rights

By Sheila Parks, Ed.D.

Prologue 1: Enter Rigged Erections

The war on women and war on our ballots via hackable electronic voting machines are inextricably intertwined.   These wars are being waged by the same oppressors. These oppressors want to control not only the entire country but also, specifically and especially, women's bodies.   They seek this control by restricting and outlawing our reproductive rights, including access to contraception.   Not a peep about abolishing insurance coverage for Viagra and rigged erections.

Prologue 2: The Silencing of the Vaginas

The silencing in Michigan of Representative Lisa Brown for saying vagina - VAGINA VAGINA VAGINA - while the men in the room were trying to legislate our vaginas is a new low in the lengths the good old Republican boys will go to in their attempts to control us.   As Brown said, "I am outraged that this legislative body not only wants to dictate what women do, but what we can say."   Michigan was in the midst of attempting to pass the most restrictive law in the country on abortion rights - so far.   Eve Ensler performs The Vagina Monologues with Representative Brown and other Michigan representatives in the Capitol building on Monday, June 18.   

The Recent War on Women and Reproductive Rights

All these laws are being introduced by Republicans.

In April 2012 I spoke and emailed with Elizabeth Nash, the State Issues Manager of the Guttmacher Institute.   I learned that the two states where the worst legislation against women has passed are Arizona (Governor Jan Brewer (R) and Kansas (Governor Sam Brownback (R).   Arizona legislators passed six major restrictions: limiting how medication for abortion is provided, mandating an ultrasound before an abortion, prohibiting physician assistants and nurses from providing abortions, banning abortions for reasons of race and gender selection, prohibiting the use of public funds or tuition to be used to pay for abortion training at Arizona universities, and banning abortion at 18 weeks post fertilization.   Kansas law bans abortion at 20 week post fertilization, has onerous and unnecessary abortion clinic regulations, limits how medication for abortion is provided, prohibits abortion coverage in health plans (except when necessary to save a woman's life), and requires abortion counseling.   This counseling must include information that the abortion "will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique and living human being."

Here is a state-by-state report of state legislation, enacted in 2012, regarding reproductive rights. Nash said that between 2000 and 2011, the number of states with less intrusive abortion-related policies dropped from 19 to 9, whereas the number of states with laws hostile to reproductive choice increased from 15 to 26.   Jezebel recently published a terrific article by Erin Gloria Ryan on state by state anti-choice laws enacted in 2012.

In 2010, ultra-right-wing Republican governors were elected in Alabama, South Carolina, Arizona, Maine, Texas, Ohio, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey and Wisconsin.   In several of these states, these 11 governors were not part of a long line of Republican governors.   In fact, in some of these states, these governors interrupted a long line of Democratic governors.

Also in 2010, the Republican Party took control of a majority of the state legislative bodies.   Nineteen of these state houses went from Democrat to Republican control.

 Here in Massachusetts, Scott Brown (R) won Ted Kennedy's (D) seat, and with that vote we lost a supporter of reproductive rights.   A review of Brown's record on abortion issues reveals that in 2011 NARAL rated him 45% and National Right to Life rated him 75%.   In 2010, NARAL rated Brown 0% and in 2009-2010 National Right to Life rated him 100%.   See Vote Smart to understand these evaluations.

Americans United for Life (AUL) is the organization that writes templates and boilerplate legislation against abortions and other reproductive rights.   AUL specializes in the super-hatred of women and our bodies.   Charmaine Yoest, the president and CEO of AUL who influenced the Komen Organization to defund Planned Parenthood, also testified against the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor and Elana Kagan to the Supreme Court.  

Reproductive rights, including contraception, are only part of the War on Women.   There are other areas where this war is being fought: equal pay, jobs, domestic violence, and education.   If we women don't own our own bodies, we have nothing. The recent laws restricting abortions will most heavily affect low-income women, young women, women of color and rural women.   Rich women will always have access to abortions.

We have not heard the last of pre-natal personhood (North Carolina, Governor Bev Perdue (D); both legislative chambers Republican) and trans-vaginal ultra sounds (Virginia, Governor Bob McDonnell (R); both legislative chambers Republican). These misogynist crimes against women are two of the most barbarous tools in the war on women currently being perpetrated by the ultra-right wing.   Since the Republicans vote in lock-step for these laws, I wonder if there are any who don't subscribe to the ultra-right wing of the Republican party.

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Sheila Parks, Ed.D., is a former college professor. She had a spiritual awakening many years ago and left her career to do peace and justice work full time. She is the founder of the grassroots group On Behalf of Planet Earth (found on FB). (more...)

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