Pulse of the Peninsula : GOP’s war on women isn’t semantics

Pulse of the Peninsula : GOP’s war on women isn’t semantics


Jeb Bush’s declaration “500 million is too much to spend on women’s health issues” is chalked up to a “misstatement.”

All the shock and outrage over misogynist statements is on Donald Trump’s disgusting attack on Megyn Kelly — not the disgusting attack on women’s rights that was on display throughout both GOP debates.

And Jeb Bush’s only real concern about what Trump said about Kelly is, “Give me a break. Do we want to win? Do we want to insult 53 percent of all voters? “ 

On the other hand, he boasted of defunding Planned Parenthood in Florida way before it was fashionable.

As for Donald Trump’s pattern of misogynistic put-downs of women, he chalks it up to his “refreshing” “telling it like it is” “I’m not a politician” style, and condemns “political correctness” as weakness. 

Telling it like it is? What does that actually mean? 

A disdain for “political correctness?” What does that mean? 

He is a bully who can get away with it, as he reminds us over and over, because he is a billionaire. If ever there was a poster-child for the corruption of democracy because of money, it’s Donald Trump.

Arthur C. Brooks, who is president of the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank,  in “The Conservative Heart,” thinks the only problem with Conservatives is that they don’t express their “heart” adequately. 

Brooks believes that the only reason Conservatives have failed to retake the White House is because of an “image problem”. People just don’t know the real “Conservative.”

Not that their policies are so heinous that they destroy lives and put barriers to people’s success, while at the same time have resulted in the greatest income gap in history, and upended the mythology of the “American Dream” that one can rise as far as their ability and perseverance takes them. 

No, it’s not their policies, Brooks believes, but their word choice which offends — like when they say “legitimate rape.” 

They are far more successful  when they use Orwellian speak to rebrand policies:  the estate tax as “the death tax,” single-payer health care as “the government option”; instead of saying “social safety net” they say “entitlements” and instead of “poor people” they say “The Takers,” whereas the wealthiest 1% who benefit from government entitlements are “Job Creators.”

Now they are doing the same with their campaign to deny women’s reproductive freedom (see “Republicans Alter Script on Abortion, Seeking to Shift Debate New York Times (July 26, 2015).

So GOP candidates are urged to find a different way to deny women rights to make their own reproductive decisions, their own health care decisions, their own choices for their family and their future, to have pay parity and equal access up a career ladder (because that’s what child care issues are really about), and yes, to use boter ID laws to place an extra barrier to women trying to cast a vote (protecting America from voter fraud and stolen elections, don’t you know).

They re- brand it “Religious Freedom.” (I would suggest that is like rebranding “Democracy” as “Theocracy.”)

They find holier than thou ways of saying that a zygote is more entitled to Constitutional protection than an adult woman. 

Her life is not at all worthwhile or valuable. She’s not entitled to the 4th Amendment protection against unreasonable search — as the mandated ultrasound probe which has no medical benefit, certainly is. 

She isn’t entitled to the same equal protection under the law that would allow a man to have private counsel with his doctor, nor the benefit of a doctor’s free speech, nor the same access to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

“A lot of people are talking about defunding Planned Parenthood, as if that’s a huge game changer,” said Mike Huckabee. “I think it’s time to do something even more bold. I think the next president ought to invoke the Fifth, and 14th Amendments to the Constitution now that we clearly know that that baby inside the mother’s womb is a person at the moment of conception….And, this notion that we just continue to ignore the personhood of the individual is a violation of that unborn child’s Fifth and 14th Amendment rights for due process and equal protection under the law.”

Marco Rubio, who would deny abortion even in the case of rape and incest, says, “People should hope that my faith influences my political position and in this case I’m proud to say that my faith influences me,” he told CNN’s “New Day” on Friday. “It teaches me that God knew us when he formed us in the womb. … And even some human life that some scientist wants to have a debate about but I believe that science is clear. That when there is conception that that is a human life in the early stages of its total development that is worthy of the protection of our laws.”

What Rubio fails to recognize is that while he might have his own religious beliefs, in America, that does not mean that he gets to impose his religious beliefs on others.

Meanwhile, Scott Walker — not to be outdone — took pains to stress that he does not support an exemption allowing abortion to save the life of the woman.

This week, the Republicans massed yet another assault on Women’s Rights, with yet another effort to completely defund Planned Parenthood and each and every one of the GOP presidential wannabes seemed in competition for who could and would wield the harshest blow to Planned Parenthood — Walker and Jeb Bush boasted about cutting funding before it was fashionable (“I defunded Planned Parenthood years ago, long before the videos,” said Walker).

They seized upon fraudulently gathered and strategically edited videotapes, purportedly showing Planned Parenthood staff “selling” fetal tissue, as if for their own enrichment.  In point of fact, there is nothing illegal about supplying medical research facilities with fetal tissue.

“Women and families who make the decision to donate fetal tissue for lifesaving scientific research should be honored, not attacked and demeaned,” Eric Ferrero, vice president of communications at Planned Parenthood, countered. “Our medical practices and guidelines in this area are clear, and we do this important work just like other high-quality health care providers — with full, appropriate consent from patients, under the highest ethical and legal standards, and with no financial benefit for the patient or Planned Parenthood.”

Republicans are now demanding an investigation into Planned Parenthood, but where is the investigation into the crimes of perpetrating fraud and hacking into Planned Parenthood’s computers?

Republicans floated (yet another) bill to defund Planned Parenthood, which was blocked by Democrats and now, The Notorious Ted Cruz, responsible for the government shutdown in October 2013 over defunding Obamacare, is vowing once again to shut down government unless Planned Parenthood is defunded.

I say: Do it. I want President Obama to veto any legislation — including spending legislation — if it attacks women’s rights, even if it means shutting down the federal government.

Because the issue of Planned Parenthood funding is only the tiny slice of what Republicans want to do to chip away at women’s rights — economic and political – and roll back the clock to the 19th century.

“Do you have any idea what year it is?” Sen. Elizabeth Warren asked on the Senate floor. “Did you fall down, hit your head, and think you woke up in the 1950s or the 1890s? Should we call for a doctor? Because I simply cannot believe that in the year 2015, the United States Senate would be spending its time trying to defund women’s health care centers. You know, on second thought, maybe I shouldn’t be that surprised. The Republicans have had a plan for years to strip away women’s rights to make choices over our own bodies. Just look at the recent facts.”

•In 2013, Republicans threatened to shut down the government unless they could change the law to let employers deny women access to birth control.

•In 2015, Republicans held hostage an easy-to-pass bipartisan bill to stop human trafficking, demanding an unprecedented expansion of anti-abortion restrictions to cover new funds for providing assistance to trafficking victims.

•Republicans have voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act dozens of times, including the portions that require insurers to cover contraception — and stop them from charging women more.  

•In state legislatures, Republicans have passed nearly 300 new restrictions on abortion access in the past five years — more than 50 this year alone.

“So let’s be really clear about something: The Republicans’ scheme to defund Planned Parenthood isn’t some sort of surprised response to highly edited videos…. It’s  another piece of a deliberate, methodical, orchestrated right-wing attack on women’s rights. And I’m sick and tired of it.”

But as Warren noted, “Young people go to Planned Parenthood for birth control. Women who can’t get appointments anywhere else go to Planned Parenthood for affordable Pap tests and cancer screenings. 

Couples go to Planned Parenthood for STD treatments or pregnancy tests. 

And yes, 3 percent of patients visit Planned Parenthood for a safe and legal abortion with a doctor who will show compassion and care for a woman who is making one of the most difficult decisions of her life.”

Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) added, “One in five American women have relied on Planned Parenthood for cancer screenings, access to birth control, fertility testing and more. I’m one of them — I turned to Planned Parenthood for my health care needs as a college student,

“It’s disgraceful that Republicans are subjecting this health care to political games. Already, Republican senators have tried to derail a bill that would provide fertility treatments for Veterans over Planned Parenthood funding.

 “As a wounded Veteran who would not have given birth to my baby daughter without in vitro fertilization, I’m furious that Republicans are letting an ideological agenda stand in the way of caring for our Vets.”

 This isn’t about “life” even if that is the orchestrated language anti-choice activists use. Because the reality is that “Abortion has happened since time began,” said Fran Hagerty, who leads the Women’s Health and Family Planning Association of Texas. “It’s not going to end. What’s going to end is for women to get care that is safe, that doesn’t put their lives at risk. That’s what’s ending. We all know that. Maybe the legislators know it, too, and they don’t care.” (See: “Battle of the Abortion Decisions” (New York Times, June 11, 2015)

In fact, abortion rates went down during the Clinton Administration years, and up during the Bush Administration, when abstinence replaced sex education.

If Republicans actually cared about “life” or even “children,” they would not be cutting food stamps, health programs, school aid for children, or taking away food stamps from a family if a child fails a test, and expanding access to military-grade guns. 

Thanks to Republican obstructionism the rate of childhood poverty has increased to 32 percent – nearly one in three children in the United States live in poverty and the U.S. has the second highest rate of relative child poverty among economically developed nations.

Indeed, with August being Child Support Awareness Month, the personal finance website WalletHub conducted an analysis of 2015s Best & Worst States for Underprivileged Children. 

No surprise that the worst-ranking states are the  bastions of Tea Party (and anti-choice) politics: Alabama, Arkansas, South Carolina, Florida, Louisiana, New Mexico, Georgia, Arizona, Mississippi. (https://wallethub.com/edu/best-worst-states-underprivileged-children/5403/)

And if Republicans really cared about “family values” or had a conservative “heart”, they would support raising the minimum wage, pay parity, child care assistance, college affordability, and would embrace the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, so that pregnant women and their unborn child could get the health care they need, rather than condemn parents who need assistance as avaricious “takers.” (The most offensive question of the two GOP debates: “Americans are too reliant on assistance, too willing to take assistance. How do you change the culture?”)

Instead, House Republicans are pushing to kill America’s main family planning program, Title X, the only federal program devoted to providing low-income women with family planning services, birth control, well-woman visits, and STD and cancer screenings, which provides vital medical care to nearly 4.6 million women and still saved $2 billion last year (a quarter of the funding goes to Planned Parenthood clinics). 

The Fiscal Year 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services Funding Bill not only guts Title X, it also eliminates 80 percent of funds for comprehensive teen pregnancy prevention, but doubles funding for abstinence-only sex education, which has been proven to be ineffective. 

“It’s the height of hypocrisy that a Republican party committed to blocking women’s access to abortion would slash a program that prevented 1.2 million unplanned pregnancies in 2010. 

It shows that Republicans are so committed to grandstanding against Planned Parenthood that they’re willing to throw women and their families under the bus,” writes Heidi Hess, Campaign Manager for CREDO Action from Working Assets.

“The upshot would be more pregnancies, more abortions, more AIDS, more sexually transmitted infections and more women dying of cervical and breast cancer. Ending the program would impoverish young mothers and impede the formation of stable two-parent families that conservatives rightly argue help overcome poverty,” Nicholas Kristof writes in “Our Sex-Crazed Congress” (New York Times, Aug. 1).

“It’s baffling that House Republicans are trying to eliminate a 45-year-old bipartisan initiative that is one of the country’s anti-poverty successes — and also perhaps America’s most successful anti-abortion initiative.”

Every $1 spent to prevent an unintended pregnancy saves the government $7 in public services.

When Jeb Bush said in an off-hand way that there are plenty of other clinics and agencies to take up if Planned Parenthood were shut down, who did he have in mind? Where are those clinics? 

These pompous, jackass men (and one woman) simply don’t know (and don’t care) what they are talking about. Donald Trump saying his view on abortion “evolved” from being pro-choice because he knows someone who was considering an abortion and now has a wonderful child, is absurd and insulting to the wrenching choice that women and families make.

But as Barbara Logan of Pittsburgh wrote in a letter to the editor in response to Looking Away From Abortion” (July 26, about how disgusting the image of harvesting fetal tissue was), “[Columnist] Ross Douthat has never experienced pregnancy, let alone a pregnancy caused by rape, possibly by a trusted boyfriend or even one’s own father. He has never been an exhausted woman unable to face an additional pregnancy and wanting to be able to nurture her existing family. Perhaps, also, he has never confronted the tragedy of learning that his much-wanted baby has grave medical issues. Mr. Douthat is not a high school student who made one terrible decision and now finds herself pregnant, lacking both the income and experience to be a competent child carer. In my opinion, only those capable of experiencing it should pronounce judgment on abortion and those who make it available.”

What it is about is control — and I don’t mean birth control. 

In fact, the issue of Women’s Rights today is sadly, as Elizabeth Warren noted, is not much different from 1848, and the first Women’s Rights Convention, held in Seneca Falls, New York.

Let’s be reminded that not that long ago, a woman was legally obligated to satisfy her husband’s sexual overtures, resulting in a constant state of pregnancy and birth, even when it killed her or impoverished the family. 

The church was a huge player in maintaining the status quo of woman’s inferior role, having a stake in women being factories to produce more church-goers, the poorer the better to be dependent upon Christian charity, and obedient, accepting their lot in life as “God’s will.”

Capitalists made common cause with the Religious Right -— against any government social network which they vilified as “Communist” — and also, to insure a ready supply of cheap labor. 

The fact that respect for “life” had nothing to do with it can be seen in labor practices (think of the Triangle Shirt Factory fire) that callously murdered countless workers, even to this present day, which is implicit in the disdain and dismissal of all pesky government regulations on business.

Forcing women to give birth — and going so far as criminalizing behaviors like smoking or drinking during pregnancy, even prosecuting a woman who has a miscarriage — is part and parcel of a larger crusade to strip women of rights and their Personhood. (See: “Arrested for Having a Miscarriage? 7 Appalling Instances Where Pregnant Women Were Criminalized,” https://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/arrested-having-miscarriage-7-appalling-instances-where-pregnant-women-were)

A woman, in the eyes of Virginia state Sen. Steve Martin, is merely a “host” to nurture the fetus. “Once a child does exist in your womb, I’m not going to assume a right to kill it just because the child’s host (some refer to them as mothers) doesn’t want it,” he posted on Facebook.

Forcing a woman to bear children — taking away the ability of a woman to make her own reproductive choices – is a form of enslavement. 

Pro-life? What sort of life? “Conservative heart?” That’s as mythical as “The American Dream” or “American Exceptionalism”  or “Democracy.”

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