March 2011
E-mail this article

Meet the Regressives

By Katharhynn Heidelberg

A woman’s work is never done — not when it comes to guarding hard-won civil rights and advances in equality of the sexes.

If you think we’ve left behind in the dustbin of history the days of the economically dependent woman who is the legal equivalent of a child, think again. If you think the days when women had to resort to burning their bras in order to be heard are gone for good (OK, it was actually a few women who threw their bras in a trash container), I’ve got news for you.

Those days are not as far gone as you think. And if one segment of American society, and its compliant politicians have their way, the Bad Ol’ Days are coming back.

Look no further than February’s attempts by the Regressives to restrict women’s access to the legal, medical procedure of abortion. Several Regressives in Washington — among them, Colorado Reps. Mike Coffman, Cory Gardner and Doug Lamborn — co-sponsored a measure to further ensure that no federal money would be used to pay for abortions.

So concerned were they, that they sought to essentially rewrite the definition of rape to ensure that only in instances of “forcible rape” could a woman utilize federal programs to pay for or subsidize an abortion.

The overall purpose of the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” is to eliminate tax breaks for businesses whose healthinsurance plans offer abortion services, as well as to prohibit women from using their flex-spending accounts for abortions, the New York Times reports. (Flex-accounts allow you to save money for medical expenses, pre-tax.)

If the Regressives have offered up a similar bill to interfere with how men may spend their money, I have not heard it. I guess I’m surprised they trust our pretty little heads to spend our tax refunds (money from the federal treasury!). But the strategy here is, of course, to limit a woman’s access to a legal medical procedure, and to limit it to the point that the right becomes irrelevant.

Can the Regressives really be so paranoid about a woman “getting away with” having an abortion that they forgot what century this is? After all, even some congressional Republicans pointed out that all rape is “forcible.”

Still, at any minute, a rape victim could be aborting the fetus inflicted on her by her rapist — and in some very narrow circumstances, she could be doing so on your dime. Regressives to the rescue! With their act, only “forcible” rape has any chance of subsidized coverage.

Meaning: If a stranger in the bushes leaps out at you with a knife, drags you off, and batters you while raping you, good news! If you become pregnant as a result, the generous Regressives will grudgingly allow you to use your own flex account to get an abortion, and they might not penalize your employer. They don’t really want to help you out, but, OK, OK! Even the conservative fringe that is their base would balk at such an overt endorsement of sexist codswallop. (Because the ratchet-backsubtly effect works better than the in-your-face move when it comes to undoing advances in women’s rights.)

But the “forcible rape” provision also means: If you are the victim of incest or acquaintance rape, were too intoxicated to give consent (that is a specific crime in Colorado, by the way — sexual assault-victim incapable), statutory rape (that means a girl cannot legally give consent because she has not reached the age at which the law deems her competent to make such decisions), or if your husband forced you to have sex, well, that’s not really rape.

Thus, the anti-woman crowd kills two birds at once:

  • The act would restrict access to abortion. As has been pointed out in The War on Choice, the legal right to an abortion is useless if the female in question cannot afford one, or cannot access abortion providers.

States with mandatory waiting periods know the access trick, especially the eight states that require two visits to an abortion clinic, a day apart. The strategy isn’t designed to give women time to “think about it.” Obviously, everyone walking into an abortion clinic has “thought about it.” The strategy is employed to make it much more difficult for someone with limited income, unreliable transportation, a strict work and/or childcare schedule, or who, like most women on the Western Slope, lives a fair distance from an abortion provider. (Colorado is not one of the eight states. Yet.)

Those who blockade abortion clinics also know the trick is to limit access by scaring women away. Certainly, murderer Scott Roeder knows it: Gunning down Dr. George Tiller in church led to the closure of Tiller’s clinic, and left women with even fewer options for a legal, medical procedure.

  • The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, by differentiating between “forcible rape” and “other” rapes, implies those other rapes aren’t “really” rape. Women have walked the She Must Have Wanted It Road for decades, if not millennia. The act’s attempted differentiation suggests there was something the victim could have done, indeed, should have done to prevent the rape. That it was her responsibility to stop it; that despite being the “weaker vessel,” she was somehow in full control of the man; that it is her conduct, not the rapist’s, that must be brought into question. Doesn’t seem that the way we’ve come is really all that long, baby.

No matter what a person thinks of abortion — and for the majority, it is not cutand- dried; few people (including yours truly) like the idea of ending a pregnancy — redefining rape in this way isn’t just regressive. It is evil.

The fact that sponsors later backed down, insisting the bill would not make an attempt to change the definition of what is and is “not really” rape, does not change the evil — particularly in light of reports that, a week later, the “forcible rape” provision remained in the bill.

The Regressives are also considering another bill to cut federal funding from women’s clinics that offer abortions, the NYT reported Feb. 8.

Still another Regressive bill cited by the paper would “prohibit Americans who receive insurance through state exchanges from purchasing abortion coverage, even with their own money. ... The bill would also permit hospitals to refuse abortions to women, even in emergency situations, if such care would offend the conscience of the health care providers.”

See points above, about access, and dictating what services women may or may not buy. And add to that a big, fat ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

What offends my conscience is knowing there are people who would rather see women dead than with access to abortion, and that we actually have elected leaders willing to turn this primitive attitude into law.

As for those health-care providers? Find another staffer willing to perform an abortion, if you cannot bring yourself to show more respect for the life that is right in front of you (your patient!) than the potential for life that she carries.

Like it or not, Regressives, this is the 21st Century, and if you’re not trying to interfere in, or dictate, what medical procedures men may undergo, hands off the ladies.

After all, it’s been 90 years since we done got that thar’ right ta’ vote. Just because you’ve forgotten that doesn’t mean we have.

Katharhynn Heidelberg is a journalist in Montrose, Colo.


E-mail this article