Today in America, more than one-third of teens say that when they began having sex, they had not had any formal instruction about contraception. Is this really the time for a Republican Party platform denouncing comprehensive sex education?That is the conclusion of Nicholas Kristof's Sunday New York Times column, titled Scaring the Voters in the Middle.
Some Americans don’t even seem to have had any sex education by the time they’re elected to Congress. Like Todd Akin.
I strongly urge people to read it and pass it on.
It may seem odd to some that Kristof, a two-time Pultizer winner, is taking on this issue. It should not. He often writes about women's issues - women forced into brothels, women abused in war settings, etc. He and his wife Sheryl WuDunn, with whom he shared his first Pulitzer, co-authored a book titled Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, from which has grown a a movement, which includes a film which will be broadcast on PBS in October.
The ability of women to control their reproductive cycle is essential to freeing them from oppression, and to their full inclusion economically and in society as a whole. That is why progressives favor abortions rights, access to birth control and sex education.
It may be why those on the other side of the aisle do not, even if they can trot out their examples of women who espouse their political agenda. One might note that in talking about women at the convention the emphasis was on mothers, as if that was the primary purpose for women's existence.
Let me return to Kristof's column. He lays out the prohibitions on rape in current US government policy
- women raped in the military cannot get abortions through Tricare military health insurance
- Peace Corps volunteers who get pregnant cannot use government funds to terminate the pregnancy even if their lives or health are in jeopardy
- aid organizations cannot use US funds to help women who have been gang-raped in situations Darfur, Sudan and the Congo (which are all places about which Kristof has written)
There is more.
Kristof cites statistics from the Guttmacher Institute that
55 percent of American women of reproductive age now live in one of the 26 states deemed “hostile to abortion rights.”
Most Americans do not fit perfectly into “pro-choice” or “pro-life” camps. Polls show that about one-fifth want abortion to be legal in all situations, and another one-fifth want abortion to be illegal always. The majority fall somewhere between, and these voters are the ones who decide elections.And while Republican might have touched a chord on issues like late-term"partialbirth" abortions, waiting periods and parental consent, which seem to be favored by 2/3 of Americans,
But change the situation, and people are more in favor of abortion rights. Four out of five Americans believe that a woman should be able to get an abortion if her health is endangered, or if the pregnancy is the result of rape.Abortion rights are an issue on which a majority of voters favor Democratic positions. Of greater importance, it is an issue addressing important ethical matters and health rights for women. The other side seeks to hide behind religion to suppress rights which somehow seem to offend some of them, even to the point of criminalizing some forms of birth control and effectively making illegal forms of in vitro fertilization that were used to produce several of the Romney grandchildren.
There are many issues on which the Republican platform is not only flat out wrong, but scary, out of touch with most Americans, implying the imposition of a theocracy.
We should not be afraid to challenge them directly.
We should hold Republicans feet to the fire over their platform - one for which their Vice Presidential nominee has demonstrated his total support by his past legislative action, and to which their Presidential candidate has acquiesced at various times in order to pander for votes in the primary process.
Kristof, asking how if Romney cannot clearly express his own position on abortion we are supposed to support it, points out that even most evangelicals think the Republican platform is too extreme, citing words from notable evangelical leader Richard Ciszek, who said of Rep. Todd Akin's views (to which we know Rep. Paul Ryan agrees)
“They also don’t reflect the theological and ethical, not to mention scientific, view of evangelical leaders, who understand the rationale for exceptions: God’s grace and mercy.Read the Kristof.
Pass it on.
And Democratic candidates everywhere should be making a major issue of this.
What the Republican platform seeks to do is deprive American women of liberty because some, mainly White men, wish to impose their theological views on the rest of us, even though those views are more extreme than even most of their own ideological base, a base which is a distinct minority of the electorate.
It is a winning electoral strategy to oppose this part of the Republican agenda.
Of greater importance, it is a moral imperative to vociferously oppose it.
Nicholas Kristof's column provides ammunition useful in the debate.