Whatever the outcomes in 2012, Women will losePosted: January 3, 2012
It’s becoming increasingly clear that the liberties and interests of 51% of the population will not be advanced in 2012. At this point, the most we can hope for is for the election of Elizabeth Warren and other women and men who represent the view that women are adults and not property of the state or the men in their orbit. Plus, we should elect the ones that have shown their views are more than lipservice. What is the price and cost of less horrible?
The rise of Radical Religionist Rick Santorum in Iowa is just the latest affront to any one that believes that women should be the ones making decisions about their lives. Santorum believes that States should be able to outlaw birth control. He undoubtedly will not make it to the Presidential spot. However, will Romney be desperate enough to consider him VP material? How about the neoconfederate Ron Paul or Rick Perry? Santorum is just the latest in a series of risers that show how bad the Republican party has become. The problem is that this allows the alternative party to be elected by being less horrible. Santorum is clearly horrible for women and any one that believes in a modern, secular America.
Rick Santorum reiterated his belief that states should have the right to outlaw contraception during an interview with ABC News yesterday, saying, “The state has a right to do that, I have never questioned that the state has a right to do that. It is not a constitutional right, the state has the right to pass whatever statues they have.”
Santorum has long opposed the Supreme Court’s 1965 ruling “that invalidated a Connecticut law banning contraception” and has also pledged to completely defund federal funding for contraception if elected president. As he told CaffeinatedThoughts.com editor Shane Vander Hart in October, “One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country,” the former Pennsylvania senator explained. “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.”
If this isn’t radical enough, consider the Santorum’s response to a 1996 pregnancy that showed that his wife was carrying a fetus with a “fatal defect“. Miscarriages are extremely common. About 1/3 of conceptions end this way. It is a tough experience and an emotional one for many people, but it is nature’s way of dealing with severe fetal/zygote issues. The Santorums have every right to incubate a nonviable fetus–if that’s their choice–although it’s difficult to justify the cost of such a folly to the health care system and insurance companies. Their experience is in a book that provides some insight into a family dynamic that is beyond creepy. Santorum and his wife brought the “corpse” home. They slept with it and made their children hold it and sing to it. This article by Tommy Christopher is creepy also. He calls the miscarried 20 week old fetus a newborn son and acts like their response is within some range of normal. Remember, this wasn’t a surprise outcome. They had plenty of time to deal with this. Be forewarned, this is ghoulish.
The incident they’re referring to is the 1996 birth of a premature baby boy to Rick and Karen Santorum. The child only lived for two hours, and the Santorums dealt with the tragedy in an unusual way:
The childbirth in 1996 was a source of terrible heartbreak — the couple were told by doctors early in the pregnancy that the baby Karen was carrying had a fatal defect and would survive only for a short time outside the womb. According to Karen Santorum’s book, ”Letters to Gabriel: The True Story of Gabriel Michael Santorum,” she later developed a life-threatening intrauterine infection and a fever that reached nearly 105 degrees. She went into labor when she was 20 weeks pregnant. After resisting at first, she allowed doctors to give her the drug Pitocin to speed the birth. Gabriel lived just two hours.
What happened after the death is a kind of snapshot of a cultural divide. Some would find it discomforting, strange, even ghoulish — others brave and deeply spiritual. Rick and Karen Santorum would not let the morgue take the corpse of their newborn; they slept that night in the hospital with their lifeless baby between them. The next day, they took him home. ”Your siblings could not have been more excited about you!” Karen writes in the book, which takes the form of letters to Gabriel, mostly while he is in utero. ”Elizabeth and Johnny held you with so much love and tenderness. Elizabeth proudly announced to everyone as she cuddled you, ‘This is my baby brother, Gabriel; he is an angel.’ ”
It’s a story that I have heard mocked by many liberals (and mistold, by others, as having followed a miscarriage), and I agree with Lowry that the intensely personal arena of human grief ought not be cheapened into political fodder. Within reasonable limits, I don’t think anyone should be judged for things they say or do in the face of extreme grief.
The fact that Karen Santorum publicized the event means that, to some extent, it is an appropriate subject for public discussion, but then it should be handled in a delicate, respectful manner. While I think Lowry was taking a cheap shot of his own when he accused Colmes of “mocking” the Santorums (and with his deployment of the coded phrase “Manhattan liberals”), neither was Colmes’ characterization that they “played with” the dead child fair or particularly sensitive. He probably shouldn’t have brought it up at all, but his critique, while cold and lacking in relevance, fell well short of mockery.
UPDATE: Colmes has tweeted that he called Santorum and his wife and apologized for the comment, an apology which was accepted.
Mockery? I’m not getting this characterization at all. They did take it home and they did “play with it”. The Santorums were clearly told the eventual outcome of this pregnancy early on. This wasn’t exactly a surprise. This was a long drawn-out miscarriage. This was not the birth of a premature baby boy. As to the idea of playing with it, exactly how would you characterize carrying a corpse to your house, sleeping with it in a bed, singing to it, and making your children hold it? Would it be insensitive of me to suggest that I consider what they did to their children to be a health hazard in so many ways that if I were there neighbor I would have called Child Protective Services on them?
It’s easy to pick on the Republicans here. Keli Goff shows exactly how far each of the republican presidential wannabes have gone to turn women back into property. (H/T to minx). Ron Paul wants to give every body rights–including heroin addicts--just as long as they are not women, GLBT, or not white. Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann are just as bad and Romney’s been more than willing to sell out all of his old positions to further his political career.
Nearly forty years after Roe v. Wade, the current incarnation of the Republican Party seems determined to set the health of American women back by more than a century, with targeting abortion no longer enough. Birth control rights are increasingly in the line of fire. Perhaps even worse, the current crop of presidential candidates seem determined to treat the health, safety and rights of American women much like those cultures they often discuss with such scorn and superiority. Sharia Law has become the dirtiest of dirty words in the culture wars, particularly in America’s post 9/11 political landscape. Yet I’m at a loss to see any real difference between the manner in which Sharia Law penalizes women who are raped and Perry and his Personhood cohorts’ efforts to penalize American rape survivors with a nonconsensual pregnancy.
Taylor Marsh reminds us that our current President has done little to support women (h/t to Wonk). This is no surprise to any of us that actually investigated his record, his words, and the kinds of people with whom he associated prior to supporting a candidate. The most Obama has done is sign laws passed to him by a democratic congress and a few suggested by his cabinet. He’s been indifferent-to-hostile to anything that might actively return women to autonomous adult status.
Is it enough that the 111th Congress passed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which Pres. Obama signed? Women of all political persuasions need to expect all 21st century politicians to support economic equality. We should also demand that when it’s found out we aren’t being treated equally we have recourse, which is what Ledbetter is all about. Would any other Democratic president not have signed the Ledbetter Act? To laud something so simple as financial equality for the same job done reveals women are expecting way too little from politicians that depend on our support to politically survive.
Obama’s constant chant on reforming entitlements, including changing COLA on Social Security, would hit women the hardest, because in older age we are more likely to depend on it, a subject I’ve written on before (here, here).
Research from IWPR has shown the current Social Security program is a mainstay for women, and these findings have been supported by research from other organizations. Adult women are 51 percent (27 million) of all beneficiaries, including retirees, the disabled, and the survivors of deceased workers (52.5 million). Women are more likely to rely on Social Security because they have fewer alternative sources of income, often outlive their husbands, and are more likely to be left to rear children when their husbands die or become permanently disabled. Moreover, due to the recession many women have lost home equity and savings to failing markets. Older women—and older low income populations in general—have become more economically vulnerable and dependent on Social Security benefits. – IWPR
On “reforming” entitlements, Pres. Obama comes down the same place as Republicans, though he’s the moderate conservative, so we can expect entitlement “reform” to happen regardless of who is in the White House. In his last political term, why wouldn’t Mr. Obama join with Republicans? If the Senate goes GOP, he’ll even have an excuse. Meanwhile, there’s no one suggesting that the limit on income taxed for Social Security be raised for the wealthy, with Democrats caving again and again on a millionaire surtax, so the progressive argument is not only weakly offered, but also never fought strategically.
Clearly, women will be worse off under any Republican. The “less horrible” meme has driven the gender voting gap for quite a few elections now. Is this a good enough excuse for any of us to continue to vote for a party that marginalizes our interests and chips away at our rights while talking a good game? Every time Obama is off script it’s pretty clear that he believes that men in orbit around women should have some kind of veto on the kinds of decisions that define a person’s autonomy. This was apparent from the Plan B decision and the decision to cave to extremist interests during the health plan debate. Exactly how far off is this from Santorum’s view of wife as incubator to an ongoing miscarriage? Yes. It’s less bad but still BAD.
However, you and I have both seen the polls recently. Clearly, Obama has to fish or cut bait with many of his potential supporters, including women. It’s hardly a surprise that there was one woman-friendly policy stuck into all those executive orders and signing opportunities recently dealt with the realm of foreign policy. Secretary Hillary Clinton has put the rights of women and children in a front and center position of State House policy and action. I think we know where this idea originated.
President Obama this week released a groundbreaking new plan and issued an executive order to increase U.S. support for strengthening the participation of women around the world in ending conflict and securing peace.
The first-ever U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security (PDF) and the accompanying executive order are a “fundamental change in how the U.S. will approach its diplomatic, military, and development-based support to women in areas of conflict,” according to the White House.
The plan identifies objectives that will guide participating U.S. agencies seeking to increase women’s participation in their handling of international aid, development, and security work. Among the goals are ensuring that the U.S. is “promoting and strengthening women’s rights and effective leadership and substantive participation in peace processes, conflict prevention, peacebuilding, transitional processes, and decision-making institutions in conflict-affected environments. “
To ensure accountability for meeting the goals in the plan, Obama also signed an executive order that assigns implementation officers and calls for participating agencies to submit action plans to the National Security Advisor.
Yes. Signing it is less bad than not signing it. However, did you know about this? Where’s the active advocacy? The forceful announcement?
These policy changes seem few and far between. Right now, the HHS Department is considering regulations that would restrict women’s access to private insurance plans that contain birth control coverage and coverage of abortion services. This battle against religious extremism and its need to inflict narrow religious viewpoints into areas of women’s health calls for strong, aggressive and outspoken leadership. Even if Rick Santorum proves the flavor–excuse me for using that word combined with his name–of the month, the creep of his mindset into law continues.
What we’ve been getting from this administration are a few safe marginal policies and actions that even a blue dog democrat could support. Then there is the larger creeping of the impact of the combined and exponential sell outs. There is a fear that Obama will once again cave into the demands of the US Catholic Bishops and remove access to reproductive health from private insurance plans. The bishops are hiding behind “religious liberty” in the same way that slaveowners once held up the bible to justify owning other human beings. Consider this characterization of a recent meeting between the bishops and the President.
Nevertheless, the bishops remain a forceful political lobby, powerful enough to nearly derail the president’s health care overhaul two years ago over their concerns about financing for abortion. Last week, the White House, cognizant of the bishops’ increasing ire, invited Archbishop Dolan to a private meeting with President Obama, their second. Archbishop Dolan said they talked about the religious liberty issue, among others.
“I found the president of the United States to be very open to the sensitivities of the Catholic community,” Archbishop Dolan said in the news conference. “I left there feeling a bit more at peace about this issue than when I entered.”
We’ve seen exactly how negotiable the rights of women have become since the Republicans have relegated women to property and biblical stereotypes. This should be a concern for all of us. Is there any way for us to support a party or a president that decides to marginalize the concerns of over half the population and considers our issues and autonomy to be bargaining chips for bigger agendas? How do we parlay their need for our votes into something more than lip service? Do we vote for the Elizabeth Warrens and skip the rest? We’ve been taken for granted for some time now. It’s time to develop a strategy that gets results because this time they’re going to need really need us.