The Real Agenda: Women as Second Class Citizens

JAC

As the politics of 2011 unfold, the Republican Party elected to focus on building jobs and growing the economy has, like stage magician waving their wand to distract the audience, instead focused on attacking women’s rights. Clearly, this is not a new agenda for socially conservative advocates but why this intensity? Why now when our economic recovery is fragile and unemployment is still very high? Then it struck me--18,000,000 cracks. 

As the politics of 2011 unfold, the Republican Party elected to focus on building jobs and growing the economy has, like stage magician waving their wand to distract the audience, instead focused on attacking women’s rights. Clearly, this is not a new agenda for socially conservative advocates but why this intensity? Why now when our economic recovery is fragile and unemployment is still very high? Then it struck me–18,000,000 cracks.  Those 18 million cracks that Hillary Clinton punched in the political ceiling hardened the resolve of a certain type of man to mend the ceiling and put women back in the kitchen. What better way to dominate and preserve the man-centered world then take away a woman’s reproductive choice? This playbook is being enacted on a state and federal level with legislation that is so restrictive that soon women will not strike anything other then a stove match.
The concepts that are repeating themselves in state legislatures center around the non-scientific theory that life begins at conception and that fetuses feel pain at 20 weeks. The first is based on religious theology not scientific fact, while the second is based on a notion of reflex. It does not seem to matter that the legislature’s own religious code is being introduced or that the majority of Americans do not subscribe to either belief.  In Montana a survey showed that 56% of the people would not support a constitutional amendment that life begins at conception. In Idaho and Iowa  legislatures passed fetal pain laws and restricted abortions after 20 weeks thereby joining the other states that have passed this law. These laws were passed despite the heart-wrenching video release of testimony by Danielle Devera in Nebraska about medically needing an abortion after 20 weeks and being unable to obtain one.


The other attack is turning the Affordable Health Care Act around to prevent women from reproductive freedoms.  In H.R. 3, “The No Tax Payer Funding of Abortion Bill,” Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ) has inserted language that will make it impossible for women to use health insurance to pay for abortions even if they pay for their own health insurance plan. In the fine print, this law also instructs the IRS when doing an audit to delve into a woman’s private medical records and finances to make sure no funds were used to pay for an abortion. And the Tea Party worries about government in a private citizen’s life? And Sarah Palin talks about death panels? And Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) wants to take back the government? Another Republican who is using health care against women is Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin who wants to prevent contraceptives from being covered by health insurance. Do these people not understand that this is not the way to reduce the number of abortions?


The award for anti-woman regulations goes to the august South Dakota legislators. Week after week new ways of controlling women are introduced by this assembly.  The latest draconian law has two parts. They have now instituted a 72-hour waiting period for an abortion and require 2 visits to a physician and a screening for risk factors. The claim is that adult women need men to “protect them” as they might understand their own physical, mental and real-world needs. The other part of the law requires that women undergo counseling at pregnancy crisis centers. These centers which are springing up across the country are run by volunteers and religious groups. There are generally no medical people involved and the only service is to sway women from having abortions. Often medically inaccurate information is given out. The purpose of the clinics is to discourage women from having abortions. There is a deep religious component with proselytizing about Christianity.


Hillary Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro have been pioneers and trail blazers for women. They dented but did not break through the barriers that women face in the workplace and in the political arena. It took almost 30 years after Ferraro’s historic campaign for women to gain any real recognition. How long after Clinton’s 18 million votes in 2008 will it take for women to control their own bodies? How long will we sit on our sofas and let others fight for our rights?  

 

I am going to DC on April 7 to stand alongside women who are speaking out against the repression that is occurring. I ask you to join me and other JAC women as we puncture through the hypocrisy and the rhetoric. I ask you to change your plans for the day and board a train, a bus or a plane and come to DC. We are women hear us roar. 



Gail Yamner

President, JACPAC

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