(Response by Carol Downer follows Darby Mangen's article)
End Birth Control? Not if We Can Help It! ... Darby Mangen
Nineteen-year-old Lori looked at me incredulously. “What do you mean, make birth control illegal?” Yet it has become abundantly clear in the fast-moving developments of recent weeks that Republicans would like to do exactly that.
Unthinkable? Until recently, only the lunatic fringe talked seriously about it. Suddenly it has become a legitimate topic of debate — a right women are being forced to defend once again.
Next Front in the War on Women: “No” to Prenatal Testing
Rick Santorum has long opposed contraception and has pledged to preach about “the dangers of contraception in this country,” if elected president. “It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be,” he has said. The former Pennsylvania senator has also claimed that states should have the right to outlaw birth control. At the February convention of CPAC, Santorum took the position that insurance shouldn’t cover birth control because it “only costs a few dollars.”
Republicans have taken up the cause, under the guise of “religious freedom.” Leader of the Senate, vowed to not to let the birth control issue drop until they (the anti-birth control faction) wins.
Now Santorum has added prenatal testing to his list of unacceptable practices. “The government shouldn’t make health care providers fully cover prenatal tests like amniocentesis, which can determine the possibility of Down syndrome or other fetal problems,” said Santorum, who contends the law is intended to increase abortions and reduce health costs — totally brushing off the benefits to women and fetuses offered by prenatal testing and care.
Republican Fight to Control Women Approaching the Orwellian
Women Must Submit to State-Mandated Rape
The Virginia state legislature has passed a law, which Governor McDonnell is expected to sign, requiring women to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound before being allowed to terminate a pregnancy. The woman must undergo a medically unnecessary procedure, which penetrates her vagina, without her consent and against her will.
Rape, as redefined by the FBI just last month, is “the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”
The legislature made it clear that this requirement is a purely punitive measure when it voted down, by a huge majority, an amendment proposed by a Democrat that would have provided the option, in some cases, of a non-invasive ultrasound. A similar law in Texas has been upheld by its State Supreme Court. The Iowa House is likely to pass a forced ultrasound bill, though the Democratically-controlled Senate will prevent its passage there.
A similar law in Texas has been upheld by its State Supreme Court. The Iowa House is likely to pass a forced ultrasound bill, though the Democratically-controlled Senate will prevent its passage there.
Response by Carol Downer
Hi Darby: I have a comment about your lead article re attacks on birth control. It's good, but I think 19-year-old Lori's reaction to hearing that the right wing wants to make birth control illegal shows me that our "pro-choice" movement has let them set the terms of the debate.
The attack on birth control should not have surprised anyone if they had a clear understanding of the basis for the attack on abortion. It shows me how effective the right wing anti-choice movement has succeeded in making people think that they are concerned about "the sanctity of life" or repelled by the regrettable necessity in the small percentage of later abortion of macerating the fetus. In fact, their strategy is, and always has been, to undermine women's ability to control their own sexuality and their own reproductive lives. The attack on abortion is an opportunistic tactical move to hide their real agenda by exploiting the uneasiness that many people feel about abortion, especially later abortion.
We who are fighting for women's rights to control their sexual and reproductive lives must constantly expose the real agenda of the right wing. Santorum states it in unmistakable language, "it's a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be." It's that simple and that profound.
Once you understand their agenda, it's clear that our agenda has to include women's rights to have sex with the partner of her choice, or not to have sex, even if she is married. If a woman chooses to marry, she has to right to marry the partner of her choice; if a woman chooses to have a child, it is her right to dictate the manner of her birthing, including birth center or home birth. If a woman of any age who has passed puberty, chooses to use birth control, it is her right to have access to all methods of birth control. If she chooses not to use birth control or her method of birth control fails, she has a right to an abortion. Just as the patriarchy's broad aim is to subject women to their rule, our aim must be to liberate women, and frame our political strategy in equally broad terms.