This is the first part of a two-part article on the GOP War on Women which, by the way, is not a figment of our imaginations and is actually quite real.
I don’t know how you feel about it, but I think the GOP has been pretty transparent since the midterm elections. They think they’re clever. They think we women are stupid. Why do I say that? I say it because the GOP chuckleheads want us to believe that they are not waging a War on Women. It’s all in our imaginations. But we women know better.
Let’s look at some facts (you know, those little things that the GOP and its pundits have problems with). Since March of 2011, a total of 916 anti-woman GOP health bills have been introduced. Of that total, 430 have been introduced this year. A total of 1,172 are expected to be introduced by the end of 2012. Here are some more statistics from NARAL Pro-Choice America that will make you a believer in the War on Women:
- Over the past 15 years, states have enacted more than 700 anti-choice measures.
- Certain individuals and health-care corporations are allowed to refuse women specific reproductive-health services, information and referrals in 47 states and the District of Columbia.
- 87 percent of the counties in America have no abortion provider.
- Even the much-touted health care reform law has bureaucratic red tape that might cause insurance carriers to stop covering abortion care altogether.
The GOP-led House passed H.R.358/S.877, the “Protect Life Act,” by a vote of 251-187 on October 13, 2011. Among other provisions, the bill allows hospitals to refuse to provide abortion care, or referral to a hospital that will provide such care, even if the woman’s life is in imminent danger. In May of 2011, the House passed H.R.3 by a vote of 251-175. This bill literally redefines rape and forces women and small businesses that provide health care insurance that includes abortion to pay more in taxes. The worst provision in H.R.3, however, is that it bans using tax credits or deductions to pay for abortions or insurance. If audited by the IRS, a woman would have to prove that her abortion “fell under the rape/incest/life-of-the-mother exception, or that the health insurance she had purchased did not cover abortions.”
Here’s where I take on the Ron Paul (R-TX) supporters who suspend reality by insisting that he’s different from the other GOP candidates and really has a respect for the Constitution. Nothing could be further from the truth. To wit, he has co-sponsored yet another anti-abortion bill, this time with poster girl for the crazy Michele Bachmann (R-MN). The Stop Abortion Funding in Multi-state Exchange Plans (SAFE) Act would block any multi-state health plan from offering coverage for elective abortions.
The Right-wing three-pronged strategy to deny women’s constitutional rights
Right-wing groups funneled millions of dollars into the 2010 midterm elections to return the GOP to power. The result is that the GOP presently has control of the House, taking it back with a boatload of anti-choice legislators. The Democrats still hold an uncomfortably slim four-seat majority in the Senate going into the 2012 elections. It doesn’t stop there. The right-wing machine has infiltrated every part of government, including state legislatures, school boards, city councils, state boards of health and zoning commissions.
While they lobby GOP legislators to introduce legislation on a federal level, the right-wing element is working the states. Personhood USA, an extreme anti-choice group, is organizing in all 50 states to pass “personhood” measures that grant legal rights to a pregnancy from “the beginning of biological development.” If these absurd measures are passed, it could result in a ban on abortion in all circumstances, as well as outlaw common forms of birth control and in-vitro fertilization. There is even a Personhood Republican Presidential Candidate Pledge on its website.
Seventeen bills have been filed in 11 states to ban insurance coverage of abortion in state-based exchanges or even in the entire statewide private market. Fifteen states have already passed such measures. There are now 27 pieces of legislation in 14 states that would force a woman to undergo an ultrasound prior to an abortion. It doesn’t matter if she doesn’t want it or her doctor doesn’t recommend it. This requirement is already law in Virginia, Idaho and Texas.
Finally, the goal of right-wing groups is to pack the courts (at all levels) with anti-choice judges. Don’t kid yourselves, these judges will rule in their favor regardless of a woman’s constitutional rights. If you need proof, you have it. In 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld George W. Bush’s Federal Abortion Ban, stating that it does not violate a woman’s right to an abortion.
Here are some more frightening laws enacted on the state level:
- Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant – who has stated that he wants his state to be “abortion free” – signed legislation into law that requires a physician performing abortions to be a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist, and to have admitting privileges at an area hospital. Seven other states require an abortion provider to have hospital privileges, but none require the provider to be an OB/GYN. This law could force the only abortion facility in the state, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization to close, making Mississippi the first state in the union where no abortions could be performed.
- In April of this year, the Georgia House passed H.B.954, or what Georgia Republicans called the “fetal pain bill.” This bill criminalizes abortion after 20 weeks. Initially, it provided no exemptions but, after negotiations with the Georgia Senate, exemptions were added for “medically futile” pregnancies or those in which the woman’s life is in danger. The bill is also referred to the “women as livestock bill” because state Rep. Terry England compared women carrying stillborn fetuses or those not expected to survive to the cows and pigs on his farm.
- They’re going crazy in Ohio, introducing more bills that roll back women’s reproductive freedom in 2011 than in the three previous Ohio General Assemblies. And they’re becoming law under John Kasich, who has signed six new laws in his short term. In the meantime, progressive legislators have introduced at least nine bills or resolutions aimed at reducing unwanted pregnancies that do not roll back women’s reproductive rights and none of them have been granted more than a single hearing.
The attack on Planned Parenthood
Planned Parenthood has been the primary target of the GOP’s War on Women for more than a year now, both on the state and federal level. Countless GOP lawmakers have positioned Planned Parenthood strictly as an abortion provider. Yet, Planned Parenthood spends only 3% of its private funding on abortion services. The other 97% of its funding goes to breast and cervical cancer screening and other women’s health services, including family planning (or contraception). So rabid is the GOP to eliminate Planned Parenthood that in September 2011, Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) opened a bogus Congressional investigation of Planned Parenthood to determine if the arm of the organization that provides abortions was sufficiently segregated from the arm that provides other health services. Stearns demanded that the organization and its 83 affiliates provide fiscal records as far back as 13 years for the investigation.
Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO) does a wonderful job explaining the attack on Planned Parenthood and women’s reproductive rights in general to Rachel Maddow.
Planned Parenthood was even thrown under the bus by women when the right-wing stacked hierarchy of the Susan B. Komen Foundation cut $700,000 in funding for breast cancer screening using the lame excuse that Komen does not fund organizations under investigation. Apparently, abortion trumps pedophilia because Komen didn’t bother to cut it’s $7.5 million grant to Penn State, which was under investigation for the sexual assault scandal involving Jerry Sandusky. After a huge public outcry that cost Komen millions in donations, it reversed its decision and provided the grants to Planned Parenthood. However, the retraction is meaningless because it leaves the door open to cut funding in the future. Komen should not be let off the hook on this one.
While Planned Parenthood has successfully beaten back assault after assault on the federal level, it has taken hits on the state level. This past Friday, May 5, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer – one of the worst public servants on the planet – signed into law H.B. 2800 which prevents thousands of women on state Medicaid rolls from accessing family planning services, including breast cancer screenings and pap smears, from organizations that also offer abortion services. Brewer signed the bill at a meeting of the Susan B. Anthony List, a group that admits to being “on the front lines in the battle to defund America’s abortion giant – Planned Parenthood.”
Part 2 of this article will post tomorrow.