I began watching the GOP debate because I thought it would be a great opportunity to write something else. However I did not expect to get so legitimately enraged by what they said. The debate started out with the regular “NO GOVERNMENT”, “NO TAXES”, “STATES DECIDE EVERYTHING” and “OBAMA IS THE PROBLEM” rants no matter the relevance to the question. However, as soon as they got to the subject of birth control, I lost it. I couldn’t seriously believe what they were saying. I’ve been paying attention and know that there seems to be some rally against the use of birth control but I didn’t realize how horrible it was. In fact, after watching that part of the debate yesterday morning, I literally started crying from a mixture of anger, disgust and sorrow. And that is why I decided to write this response to the GOP debate aimed solely to the discussion that followed a question about birth control.
The root of the anti-abortion and anti-birth control is sexism. The deeply rooted sexism that is infused into our society is seen in our history, our religions, our laws and even to the minute ways in which we use language. I also will refuse to call the movement that is anti-abortion, “pro-life” until every single person who calls themselves "pro-life" also supports ending wars, helping the poor and providing healthcare to everyone. Until then, they are only anti-abortion.
Before I go into the debate I want to start with a story of my mom. She once told me a story that happened when I was just a few weeks old (meaning 1994). She was listening to talk radio and was shocked at how blatantly sexist the caller’s comments were. She couldn’t believe that there were people who continued to maintain such archaic views of women’s roles, demeaning stereotypes and blunt discrimination. Coincidentally, the following day she ran across a bumper sticker that read, “Feminism; the radical notion that women are people.” Having never had a bumper sticker, she immediately bought it and put it on her car. A few weeks later, her estranged republican father came to visit her out of the blue. (The father that she didn’t even realize knew where she lived. Who made her mother leave her family, life and prestigious job in a confidential sector of the U.S. government in Washington D.C. to marry him and live in Washington state. Who then left her with nothing, with absolutely no warning, when my mother was 12 years old never to return to that household or his 4 children, for another woman.) My mother met him outside. He immediately glanced at my mother’s new bumper sticker, shook his head in disgust and scoffed, “I don’t know how you ever grew up in MY household.” My father, rickeagle, who was standing next to her, replied, “She’s done very well for having grown up in your household hasn’t she?” For Christmas that year, my dad purchased a one-year subscription to Mother Jones magazine to be sent to my grandfather’s house. Go dad!
I will get back to why I started with that story later on but keep it in mind.
So in the debate, the question that all of the disgusting remarks started with was, and I quote,
“Which candidate believes in birth control, and if not, why?”. I will separate the things that I want to discuss and point out by candidate.
Since Gingrich was the first to be addressed, I will start with him. Of course the question was not answered directly and Gingrich’s response was not to the effect of if he believed in birth control or not but rather points out the fact that there is a problem that exists in whether or not the government can make decisions on things that have conflicting religious interests. Or at least I think that’s he meant by
“There is a legitimate question about the power of the government to impose on religion activities which any religion opposes”.Please enlighten me if you have any clarification on that comment.
Then he went on to claim that,
“Not once in the 2008 campaign, not once did anybody in the elite media ask why Barack Obama voted in favor of legalizing infanticide”. When in fact, he was drawn into criticism multiple times by “elite media” on the subject of abortion in 2008. Such as here, or here. As well as plenty of other examples. On top of all of that, he isn’t even answering the question. He deflects it, which I have learned is what people do when they have no idea what they are talking about.
Romney starts by saying,
“I don't think we've seen in the history of this country the kind of attack on religious conscience, religious freedom, religious tolerance that we've seen under Barack Obama. Most recently, of course, requiring the Catholic Church to provide for its employees and its various enterprises health care insurance that would include birth control, sterilization and the morning-after pill. Unbelievable.”Oh yes, it is so totally “Unbelievable” that Obama would want to provide health care for employed people. And since that indirectly means that an abortion would be covered by their health insurance, this somehow means he is infringing on their rights to “religious freedom” and we are religiously intolerant to leave the option to those whose religion does not prohibit abortions to have them if they chose. Religious tolerance means that we will not force any catholic person (as well as any other religion that rejects abortion) to have an abortion since it is against their religion. It is not, however, religious freedom to deny the right to an abortion for every woman because of certain religions. That would indicate that there is a preference for the people who believe against them. So, if you want to maintain religious freedom, don’t force other people to conform to your beliefs.
He also went on to claim that an attack on religious freedom included when
“[Obama] said the government -- not a church, but the government should have the right to determine who a church's ministers are for the purposes of determining whether they're exempt from EEOC.”So it's an attack on religious freedom to include catholic employment in verification that they follow rules of Equal Employment Opportunities? It’s now considered an attack on religious freedom to make sure that every employer, including churches, are checked to make sure they follow the rules? To make sure they don’t discriminate in employment against “race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, perceived intelligence, and disability”Somehow he thinks this is against freedom of religion. Really? Well, unless your religious practice includes specifically "discriminating against people", that doesn’t make any sense. If a religion doesn't want to be label as such, then avoiding discrimination is not against the first amendment. This is also, again, totally unrelated to the question of birth control but people who listen to this will still get mad, on the subject of birth control. Even John King had to say “let's focus the time”.
Romney also makes the point that,
“this isn't an argument about contraceptives, this is a discussion about, are we going to have a nation which preserves the foundation of the nation, which is the family, or are we not?”First of all, if he doesn’t remember the question, it is an argument about contraceptives. From what I’ve heard from Mitt Romney is that he believes a family would consist of a married heterosexual couple with children. So to avoid having families that consist of anything else, you need birth control. By what Romney seems to think this is "really about" would mean that contraceptives are the answer to preserve his ideas of family.
He also says that,
“[kids born in wedlock] are raised in poverty in many cases, they're in abusive settings.”So, not being married equals poverty which equals abuse? Nice.
Later he states,
“We battled, for instance, to help the Catholic Church stay in the adoption business. The amazing thing was that while the Catholic Church was responsible for half the adoptions in my state -- half the adoptions -- they had to get out of that business because the legislature wouldn't support me and give them an exemption from having to place children in homes where there was a mom and a dad on a preferential basis.”It seriously disgusts me that he would support preferential placement of adopted children into heterosexual couples. There have been multiple studies that conclude that a child who grows up with a same sex couple fares just as well as a child who has a mother and a father.
He also claims,
“When we have programs that say we're going to teach abstinence in schools, the liberals go crazy and try and stop us from doing that.”Well, Romney, in reality, I am sure that 99.99% of liberals would never try and stop abstinence from being taught in school. We are trying to stop abstinence only education. Key word here; "only". Because it has been proven not to work. I am a public high school student who was taught with comprehensive sexual education. My Health teacher, not to mention the curriculum in comprehensive sexual education, insisted that abstinence was the only way to avoid pregnancy and in fact made it the core of her class. She taught us all of the options and facts about teen pregnancy, the process of birth, everything but the core was that abstinence is the only way to avoid pregnancy and that as a teen, no matter what the media says, the expectation is not to have sex that early.
The only thing that I will agree with that Romney said is that Obama’s
“position on religious tolerance, on religious conscience is clear”. It is very clear to me that Obama will not give exclusive treatment to any one religion or show any sort of preference to one over another and subsequently, will fight to protect the right to religious freedom.
Santorum always continues to amaze me with his lack of comprehension of reality in comments as well. He says that
“we have a [problem in] society… [with an] increasing number of children being born out of wedlock in America, teens who are sexually active. “So I have two problems with this. First, this comment directly infers that children being born out of wedlock means teens who are sexually active and having children. Second, children being born in wedlock is not a problem. This does not reflect the degradation of society in anyway. Society has progressed, obviously Santorum hasn’t. A successful family does not mean a married heterosexual couple with children. A successful family could be with two people who don’t believe in marriage or can’t be married. A successful family could be a single, responsible person who wants a child. Nothing more. A responsible person who wants a child, has the resources to take care of it and the love and attention a child needs is a parent. Being married does not indicate the success of a family. Maybe there is statistical significance to prove that children in a family with married parents are more successful but we do live in an era that marriage is not the ultimate standard anymore. It is not the role of a woman to get married and have children anymore so why should the ideal “family” be composed of children born into a married family. I’m so relieved that now when a woman gets pregnant she is not expected to get married before the baby is born because a baby is a huge commitment but so is marriage and it should be thought through carefully. Marriage does not equal a better family.
Also, he says that,
“Over 40 percent of children born in America are born out of wedlock. How can a country survive if children are being raised in homes where it's so much harder to succeed economically? “And to support his point with “evidence”, he continues to say that
“It's five times the rate of poverty in single-parent households than it is in two-parent homes.”A two parent home does not mean a married parent home. And growing up in a single-parent household is not the same as being born in wedlock so you cannot use statistics about one to describe the other to make a larger generalization.
Almost any time that one of the republican candidates opens their mouth, no matter if it is related to the conversation or not, they make the point that what we need for the country is lower tax, limited government and spending cuts. And out of almost nowhere Santorum states,
“We can have limited government, lower tax -- we hear this all the time, cut spending, limit the government, and everything will be fine. No, everything's not going to be fine. “This is entirely contradictory of everything he says he stands for. I just don’t get it. I don’t know what is going on in his head, seriously.
He then closes his argument with
“The left gets all upset. ‘Oh, look at him talking about these things.’ You know, here's the difference between me and the left, and they don't get this. Just because I'm talking about it doesn't mean I want a government program to fix it. That's what they do. That's not what we do. “My question to you, Rick Santorum, is as a politician, a representative of the federal government, how else are you planning to fix it? If you want to fix those "things" by some other means than government, don’t try to become president.
I must say. before I criticize him, that I give him major props but only for one thing and that was this quote,
“Actually, the morning-after pill is nothing more than a birth control pill, so if birth control pills are on the market, the morning-after pill -- so if you're going to legalize birth control pills, you really -- you can't separate the two. They're all basically the same, hormonally. “So, thank you for one republican that set one fact straight.
I thought that maybe Ron Paul being a doctor might have something else better to say about this subject than the others, I was wrong. He said
“along the line of the pills creating immorality, I don't see it that way. I think the immorality creates the problem of wanting to use the pills. So you don't blame the pills. “So, I agree with the fact that the pills don’t create immorality. That is true, but the use of birth control is not immoral. The point of birth control, for the most part, is so that a woman can have sex without getting pregnant. So what he is suggesting is that a woman who wants to have sex without having a child is wrong. A man who has sex with a woman that is not for the purpose of getting her pregnant, by his standard, is then also immoral. So, my question for you, Ron Paul, is how many times have you been immoral, sir?
Overall, Romney and Santorum seemed to vaguely insinuate that access to birth control causes teen pregnancy and were clearly against it but really never once answered with a clear opinion and why. Then, like usual, Gingrich doesn't even know what he's saying and I think the only Republican that answered the question given was Ron Paul. As a reminder, if you seemed to forget the question as many of the Republican candidates did, it was, “Which candidate believes in birth control, and if not, why?”.
Although I was able to grow up in a time and place that birth control is an option to everyone regardless of sex, age or financial state, I do appreciate it. I didn’t have to go through all of the hardships that many of the women who will read this did but I still appreciate it. I will protect the right to access to birth control for my entire life if that’s really what it takes. This is because the right to birth control means the right that a woman has to choose when and with whom she has her children. For so long, the role of a woman was to have children and that was it. She had no choice in the matter and could not reject a man for sex. She was out-casted if she chose anything other than having children. Well, society is evolving. A woman is no longer a man’s property. She makes decisions for herself, of her own free will. We may have laws to try to totaly eliminate the advantage men have just because they are men but that is still years away. If we ever want to reach that, we need to protect the right to birth control. Birth control reduces the physical advantage that men have over women that they don’t have to carry the baby inside of them for 9 months. Men can have sex and avoid consequences no matter what. Without birth control, women cannot. So many Republicans like to claim that birth-control is wrong because it is not congruent with their "morals" or "beliefs" but they don't really specify what those morals are. When in reality, their belief is that they think women have no right to sex. A woman is either a slut or a prostitute if she has sex for any other reason besides children. This is why the root of anti-birth control and anti-abortion is sexism.
In my government class, we were debating the right of a woman to abortion. Most of the kids who were anti-abortion either wouldn’t talk about the right of rape victims to abortions or they would say it was a sensitive subject and avoid it. However, one young man in my class stood up and said, I quote,
“Rape is already a bad enough crime, we shouldn’t add murder to it.”The republican politicians' debate is like the callers on the radio station that my mother heard with such "archaic views" and the kid from my class is like my old, republican grandpa who seemed to just come out of nowhere with such an atrocious statement. As they say, like mother like daughter, so I plan to get a bumper sticker that reads, “Birth Control; the radical notion that women have the ability to choose to have children or not.”