Crashing at the Intersection of Women's
Rights and Voting Rights
By Sheila Parks, Ed.D.
Prologue 1: Enter
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
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
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.