|Arizona Governor Jan Brewer |
Just when women were starting to think that what happened in their own uteri was their own business, along comes the Republican Party to remind them that GOP style “small government” can find its way into the most unwelcome places.
Forget keeping the government out of your bedroom. Now, thanks to an unprecedented new Arizona law you'll even have to struggle to keep them out of your ovaries, ladies.
In case you missed it, a controversial new law was signed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer last Thursday with the Orwellian sounding name of the Women’s Health and Safety Act. Experts say it effectively bans abortions after 18 weeks and declares that a woman could be pregnant even two weeks before she had sex.
You read that right. Arizona’s new law starts the clock on pregnancies at the woman’s last menstrual period, which of course could be two weeks before fertilization even happened.
The new law bans abortions at 18 weeks of pregnancy, which is at about the same time a doctor would begin to perform ultrasounds to detect abnormalities. That means if any are found the mother will still be expected to carry it to term, even if they are expected to die within hours or days of birth.
As goes Arizona, so goes the Republican Party. But here’s another fact -- 77 percent of Americans don’t think birth control should be up for debate at all, according to a Bloomberg national poll.
Full disclosure -- I’m not a woman or heterosexual so clearly I’m not directly affected by this controversy (and when I read about legislation like Arizona’s I’m thankful of the fact because I think it might enrage me in a way that I might not enjoy).
Mitt Romney has also recently revealed that if elected he plans to shut down Planned Parenthood because he doesn't agree with its mission (and I imagine he wants to cut all spending on programs that don’t directly benefit millionaires).
Now if I was a woman that is something I would probably find quite upsetting, since curbing women’s health services has never struck me as a good idea.
I know what’s coming now, of course. The name-calling. It seems conservatives in the U.S. have long ago decided that anyone who supports abortion rights anywhere under any circumstances will be told they have no morals, no conscience and no guiding principals.
I can certainly understand their profound opposition to abortion, and I can agree that it is hardly a procedure that anyone should pursue lightly, but I don’t believe that anyone actually does. I cannot accept that a complete ban on it would only benefit society in the ways that they insist.
Last week we learned that GOP Congressmen (and now vice presidential candidate) Paul Ryan and Todd Aiken are against abortion even in cases of rape or incest, which they apparently see as unfortunate but final methods of contraception. That kind of absolutism seems high handed and cruel to me, punishing the victim and in a real sense re-victimizing her all over again.
Ryan and Aiken have also offered us two deeply problematic new definitions of sexual assault, with their calibrated talk of “forcible” rape and “legitimate” rape, which rightly appalled the nation. And for the record, their bill to redefine rape as “forcible” had 227 Republican cosponsors.
There have been other recent Republican moves to make abortion expensive, difficult or even unobtainable.
Texas, Oklahoma and North Carolina have all passed transvaginal ultrasound mandates, whereby any woman seeking an abortion is now mandated by the state to have a painful and invasive procedure that seems expressly designed to humiliate her.
Perhaps most startling of all was conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh’s recent decision to demonize Sandra Fluke as a “slut” and a “prostitute” for daring to suggesting that mandating insurance coverage for contraceptive pills would be worthwhile, since they help women with a number of health problems quite unrelated to their contraceptive properties.
Limbaugh, who reportedly makes about $40 million a year, lost multiple advertisers for his outburst, which most people rightly saw as shockingly sexist.
So I am not sure why, in an election year, the GOP have opened this multi-pronged war on women’s reproductive rights.
Republicans say they champion “small government,” but it’s amazing how invasive that “small government” can be to your personal life.
It seems to most observers that today’s GOP is more interested in tackling the challenges facing the nation with faith rather than reason. Perhaps it because we live in a time when many of its most ardent supporters now claim that men and dinosaurs once lived peacefully together on Earth, that our planet is only 6,000 years old, and that any moment Our Lord will return -- so why worry about unemployment or health care or the environment or even tomorrow?