During last year's midterm election, Republicans insisted their top priority was jobs, jobs, jobs. But a funny thing happened when they took office: their priorities shifted, and now their number one priority is abortion, abortion, abortion. And so the War on Women wages on, in ever more creative ways.
Funding for women's health care:
One of the most ridiculous claims by forced birthers is that abortion is not health care. They don't really believe that, of course. That's why 43 states have passed licensed physician laws, mandating that only a physician may perform this medical procedure. Several states, including Georgia earlier this year, have attempted to pass laws that would require abortions to be performed only in hospitals, and not clinics, even though 95 percent of all abortions in this country are performed in private doctors' offices and clinics.
But when it comes to insurance coverage?
- The Kansas Legislature is reviving an already defeated proposal to prohibit insurance companies from providing coverage for abortion. Women would be forced to purchase separate policies to cover this procedure.
- Similarly, in Florida, the House passed HB 97, by a vote of 80-35, prohibiting the sale of insurance policies created through a state health-insurance exchange that cover abortion.
- The House also approved HRJ 1179, which prohibits the use of public funds for abortion.
- In Minnesota, a Republican-dominated Senate panel approved a bill to "prohibit public dollars from paying for abortions for low-income women on state-funded health care programs." But Minnesota Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen wants women to know it's for their own good because men are perverts:
Let me just remind you, especially ladies, it was seven men that made abortion legal. Not seven women. Now what’s the significance of that? Men, a certain percentage have developed a perverted view of women and what abortion tells men is they can use women and lose them. OK? Use and lose them and run from their responsibility. Then on top of that we have the state showing up and paying for the sexual exploitation of women. Ladies, let’s put a stop to this. Let’s put a stop to sending a message to men that they can use you and leave you with the consequences and have the government pick up the tab for that.
- Indiana has gone one step further, in violation of the Medicaid Act, by prohibiting the funding for "any entity that performs abortions or maintains or operates a facility where abortions are performed." This is the state's attempt to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood, one of the largest providers of health services to women, based upon the frequently invoked "not a factual statement" that Planned Parenthood's primary purpose is to provide abortions. (The real number is 3 percent.)
- In Texas, Republicans included a poison pill in a bill to renew the state's Medicaid program that provides preventative care and contraception for 120,000 low-income women.
But a renewal bill heading to the Senate floor would not only ban Planned Parenthood from continuing to participate in the program, it would scrap the entire program if the organization, which provides abortions among other services, successfully sues to rejoin.
In other words, Texas Republicans are willing to cut off all health care for low-income women to ensure that they cannot receive care from Planned Parenthood. Apparently, telling poor women to go fuck themselves is all part of the Culture of Life.
- Not to be outdone by state legislators, this week, the Republican-dominated House of Representatives passed H.R. 3, the so-called "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion" bill to prohibit the already prohibited use of tax dollars for abortions. That's the same bill that distinguishes "forcible rape" from kinda-sorta-but-not-really rape. Even though they removed that language from the bill, they think they've found a sneaky way to ensure that such a distinction still exists. Because everyone knows when a father impregnates his 13-year-old daughter, it isn't really rape unless he did it at gunpoint.
Another favorite tactic of the forced birthers is state-mandated shaming of women who seek to obtain a legal medical procedure. O.K., lady, you can ruthlessly murder your unborn baby if you really want to, but you'll have to look at pictures of it first.
- In Florida, the Senate passed HB 1127, which Gov. Rick Scott is expected to sign. The bill requires:
[T]hat ultrasound be performed on woman obtaining abortion; requires that ultrasound be reviewed with patient before woman gives informed consent for abortion procedure; requires that woman certify in writing that she declined to review ultrasound & did so of her own free will & without undue influence...
But at least they included an exception for "victims of rape, incest, domestic violence, or human trafficking or for women who have serious medical condition necessitating abortion, etc." So women in Florida are required to feel really, really, really bad about having an abortion—unless they've been raped or beaten or if their life is in danger. I guess that's what qualifies for compassionate conservatism in Florida.
- North Carolina's legislature is also toying with a similar law:
The law would require women to have an ultrasound view of their fetuses at least four hours before an abortion, and for a provider to describe the view. The measure would not require the woman to watch or listen, but would require her to sign a document acknowledging that the image was described to her by a provider. The woman's signed certification would have to remain on file for at least seven years.
- In Texas, anti-choicers celebrated passage of what secessionist Gov. Rick Perry actually called an "emergency priority." Sure, the state is flat broke, but budget be damned; this legislation was the top priority for Texas Republicans:
The bill requires a doctor to conduct a sonogram at least 24 hours before an abortion and to give the woman the opportunity to see the results and hear the heartbeat of the fetus. Though the woman can choose not to view the images and hear the heartbeat, the doctor must describe what the sonogram shows, including the existence of legs, arms and internal organs.
The War on Women isn't just about restricting access to health care. Sure, the top priority is abortion, abortion, abortion. But it's not the only priority.
- In Florida, the Senate passed a bill to "require all recipients of the state program Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to pass a drug test before receiving benefits." Because Florida Republicans are extremely concerned that all those deadbeat welfare queens are ripping off the state to support their drug habits. As the Center for Law and Social Policy reported earlier this year:
Proposals for mandatory drug testing of TANF recipients are based on stereotypes and not evidence. Proponents often claim that drug testing will save money; however, this is based on a false assumption that many applicants will be denied benefits. Random testing is a costly, flawed and inefficient way of identifying recipients in need of treatment. Better alternatives exist and are already being implemented to address drug abuse among TANF beneficiaries and ultimately reduce their barriers to work. Moreover, universal random drug testing may well be unconstitutional.
And the best part? Women will be required to pay for the tests themselves. Because women who need government assistance should have to pay to prove they're not drug addicts. But at least the state will reimburse them if they pass the test.
- This story is just too sickening for words:
A teenage girl who was dropped from her high school's cheerleading squad after refusing to chant the name of a basketball player who had sexually assaulted her must pay compensation of $45,000 (£27,300) after losing a legal challenge against the decision.
Keep in mind that her assailant admitted that he assaulted her. His punishment? Two years of probation, some community service, and a fine. And yes, he's back on the basketball team. His victim, however, was booted from the cheerleading squad. And now she has to pay $45,000 for her "frivolous" lawsuit against the school that decided it was more important to protect the rapist than the victim.
Yes, the War on Women is an ugly war, and it seems, most of the time, that women are on the losing end. But not all is lost.
- The Justice Department is cracking down on forced birth activists who terrorize women at health clinics:
The Justice Department under President Barack Obama has taken a harder line against anti-abortion activists accused of trying to block access to clinics, suing at least a half-dozen of them under a federal law that lay mostly dormant during the Bush administration.
The law, written to protect people who seek or provide abortions, was revived after Obama took office and in the wake of the 2009 slaying of Kansas abortion provider George Tiller, who was shot to death moments before Sunday services were to begin at his Wichita church.
- A new poll in Arizona finds that despite that state's Sen. John Kyl fighting to shut down Planned Parenthood, the majority of voters don't approve. Maybe he ought to get back to focusing on jobs, jobs, jobs after all.
- In Tennessee, a federal judge ruled against the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office for forcing a pregnant woman to give birth in shackles.
The judge concluded that shackling Villegas during the final stages of her labor and her post-partum recovery violated her civil rights.
Last year, the National Women's Law Center reported on the heinous treatment of pregnant women while in police custody. Tennessee is one of 36 states that allows women to be shackled during labor and delivery. The report's bottom line?
Thirty-eight states received failing grades (D/F) for their failure to institute adequate policies, or any policies at all, requiring that incarcerated pregnant women receive adequate prenatal care, despite the fact that many women in prison have higher-risk pregnancies.
Let's hope this decision out of Tennessee is just the beginning of much needed prison reform.
An international series of protests known as SlutWalks, sparked by a Toronto police officer's flippant comment that women should avoid dressing like "sluts" to avoid being raped or victimized, is taking root in the United States.
Some women and men who protest dress in nothing more remarkable than jeans and T-shirts, while others wear provocative or revealing outfits to bring attention to "slut-shaming," or shaming women for being sexual, and the treatment of sexual assault victims.