Imagine if the thought of your freedom was so frightening that others passed laws to control you — laws that probed into your most intimate, personal decisions, and dictated what advice others could give you regarding those decisions.
Imagine having to get permission to carry out the actions associated with the decisions. Imagine if your employer didn’t have to chip in on your health-care costs if your lifestyle — or even a presumed lifestyle — did not conform to the employer’s wishes. Better yet, imagine not being permitted to work at all, for fear that the money you earn might be used to pay for something to which your employer or society objects, even if that something is perfectly legal.
OK. I made up the last example, though not by much. The rest is already reality, or came close to becoming reality for American women, thanks to the breathtaking woman-hating of late — including the public branding with sexual slurs of women who dare speak up.
Now, it is admittedly easy to blow things out of proportion, and thereby create the very situation you fear. On the other hand, if it quacks like a duck…
When it comes to the war on women, it quacks indeed. The ducks have formed a choir, and they’ve taken it on tour, from church to state.
First stop on the tour: The state. Make that “states.”
In March, Virginia became the most recent state to pass into law a pre-abortion ultrasound requirement, again on the wholly faulty — and nakedly sexist — reasoning that women need to be “protected,” apparently, from ourselves. It’s been noted that many abortions are performed at a time when the only way to get an ultrasound image is through an internal exam, i.e., a vaginal ultrasound. Goody. And as soon as men seeking medical care bend over for a mandatory pre-treatment prostate exam, sign me up for that afternoon delight.
Of course, it is true that women can’t possibly know for sure whether they are pregnant, what being pregnant means — or even whether they were impregnated by their husbands or a rapist. Just ask Idaho’s Chuck Winder. He’s a man, an’ all, and I’m just a two-legged potential incubator.
Winder, while discussing another infernal ultrasound bill, said doctors ought to ask rape victims if they are really, really sure … or if the pregnancy was “caused by normal relations in a marriage.”
There you have it. Wom en are not only too stupid to know whether we have been raped, we will lie about it so we can kill a baby. We’re evil like that.
Winder had the grace to back down, insisting he never meant to question anyone’s honesty. People “misunderstood.” When it comes to controlling women, it sure is funny how often so many people misunderstand clear statements.
Indiana, meanwhile, is the lucky winner of “Who Has the Craziest Representative?” That’d be Bob Morris, who insisted, even under the withering criticism of his fellow Republicans, that the Girl Scouts promote abortion and homosexuality.
At least New Hampshire has seen the searing light of reason! In March, its House committee generously considered removing criminal penalties from a law that requires physicians to tell women that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer, even though that link is debatable at best.
The requirement forces doctors to become mouthpieces of the state. It forces them to provide inaccurate information to patients, against their better judgment and their profession’s ethics. If nothing else, it is surely state interference with private industry — and I thought Republicans were against that.
Turns out many of them (the vocal ones, anyway) are just anti-science. Witness Utah, where a law was passed preventing schools from teaching that contraception reduces the chance of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. (Apparently, condoms really are little latex jackets for your cucumbers — who knew!) The bill would have also required schools to pretend homosexuality does not exist, and to teach abstinence-only sex ed.
I’ll see your “Holy fig trees! There’s a 21st century Legislature that requires teachers to ignore basic facts?” and raise you one.
Utah’s governor vetoed it. Yup. A conservative governor — one whose views on public lands indicate a willingness to embrace nuttery — took one look at codified insanity, and said, “Um, no.” At least, that’s my takeaway from his rambling parents’-rights explanation.
Not that it’s much of a bright spot. Both women and men in this country deserve better than a finger-cross and a hope that executives will be reasonable where our representatives so often fail.
Another dangerous bit of legislative stupidity was narrowly tabled on a squeaker vote in the U.S. Senate. (Thank you, Olympia Snowe. You will be missed.) The Blunt Amendment would have created a conscience clause for employers who fund health-insurance benefits. The employers could have opted out of providing the care on moral grounds or, technically, conveniently claimed moral grounds.
Again, harsh criticism had supporters claiming critics did not really understand the amendment, which was obviously a recipe for employer overreach into employees’ private lives. There’s plenty of that as it is, thanks.
Now let’s talk about moral objections. The Catholic Church was initially correct to fight a requirement that would have forced it to pay for contraception at church-affiliated institutions. However unintentional, that crossed the line between church and state.
But the compromise — that insurers provide the benefit free to those who want it — was workable, and Catholic bishops’ continued opposition is telling. What it tells us is that a pack of eunuchs-by-choice want to make it as difficult as possible for sexually active women to make their own reproductive decisions.
Most ideological opposition to contraception boils down to this: The idea that women should be punished when they act like men, in this case, by having sex for pleasure.
I’ve never heard the Church shame old men who use impotence drugs, though, presumably, they are no longer in the siring business. (And I’ve never heard tell of Congress convening an “expert” panel on Viagra that is composed entirely of virginal young women, but never mind.)
I have heard the Church complain about the state interfering with it, while its bishops attempt to use the state to ram their policies down the throats of non-Catholics.
I see the Church won’t allow its schools and other organizations to donate to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for life-saving breast-cancer research because of Komen’s link to Planned Parenthood (a topic in and of itself), but that the Church has received $17 million in donations from Komen.
And I can’t help but notice a marked difference of volume in the Catholic hierarchy’s outcries. The shouts over contraceptives are loud and still echoing. Church outcry over criminal scandals involving some of its priests and their horrific violation of the laws of God and man was muted at best. Yes, they paid settlements and defrocked the priests — but you don’t hear bishops constantly demanding state action on the predator- priests’ great sin. How can they, when other Church leaders aided the predators, covered up their crimes?
While I respect the Church’s efforts on many fronts, the Church’s hierarchy ceded the moral high ground long ago.
And now the least for last: Mr. Rush Limbaugh, whose latest bout of verbal diarrhea sent a chunk of his advertising-driven wealth down the crapper.
Rush is an opportunist who knows how to push buttons to make money. He is adept at deflecting guilt, even when he publicly calls a woman a slut and suggests she delve into Internet porn. Which is exactly what he did to law student Sandra Fluke. Fluke’s sin: Speaking in favor of contraceptive coverage.
When the fallout hit his wallet — money talks! — Rush offered an apology not even a lamppost would have believed: He regretted using the words “slut” and “prostitute.” (Apparently, he meant to call Fluke a puppy.) True to form, Rush then claimed he’d succumbed to the tactics of “leftists,” who, I guess, rule the roost when it comes to trashing uppity women.
On the other hand, at least he offered an apology, tepid as it was. The same cannot be said of Bill Maher who called Sarah Palin by a crude word. FYI, Bill: That isn’t OK.
Until the day Rush’s fans recognize him as mindless entertainment and not an infallible prophet, the rest of us are forced to call him out. So, Rush: Stop calling women sluts because they disagree with you, and then suggesting they make pornography that you can view, ya perv. Oops. I mean “puppy.”
As for reasonable people, remember eternal vigilance. There is a war against women, so let’s fight. The other side is — and dirtily.
Katharhynn Heidelberg writes from Montrose, Colo.