Earth to Corporate Media: We’re in the Midst of a War on Women

Last week I read an op-ed at the NYT by Timothy Egan that annoyed the hell out of me. It was called “Goodbye to Gays, Guns, and God.” According to Egan,

This trio is usually trotted out in big swaths of the West, in rural or swing districts and in Southern states at the cusp of the Bible Belt. The proverbial three G’s was the explanation in Thomas Frank’s entertaining book “What’s the Matter With Kansas” for why poor, powerless whites would vote for a party that promises nothing but tax cuts for the rich.


But this year I think we’ve reached a tipping point on these heartless perennials. When George W. Bush won re-election in 2004, political sophisticates were stunned by a national exit poll in which 22 percent of voters picked “moral issues” from a list of things that mattered most — more than any other concern. This was heralded as the high-water triumph for evangelicals.

There was no mention of the war on women’s reproductive rights in the early paragraphs of the piece, but I figured it would be included under the “God” discussion. Egan was celebrating the results of a NYT/CBS poll that showed for Iowa Republicans:

Topping the list of voter concerns was the economy and jobs — picked by 40 percent of respondents, followed by the budget deficit at 23 percent. Social issues came in a distant third, with 9 percent. And the candidate who polled highest as the one who “most represents the values you try to live by,” Michele Bachmann, has nothing to show for that rating in the overall race, where she is in fifth place.

The final paragraphs of the op-ed discussed Rick Perry’s anti-gay ad and the fact that Obama has defused the “Guns” issue by doing absolutely nothing to limit access to firearms or deal with gun violence. That’s when I blew my top. Here Egan was discussing the issues favored by right-wing Evangelicals, and he made absolutely no mention of the recent wave of anti-abortion and anti-contraception laws passed in a number of states through pressure from ultraconservative “religious” fetus fetishists!

The war on women’s control of their own bodies isn’t just confined to red states either. Not long ago, a women was arrested in NYC and charged with self-abortion. I never even knew such a crime existed until recently.

Who are these people, and why do they want to turn women in their childbearing years into indentured servants who are forced to bear children against their will? Fortunately we do have alternative media available to us on the internet, and yesterday Alternet posted an article by Amanda Marcotte that spells out what is going on in the anti-choice movement and names eight groups pushing a “scorched earth” policy against women’s right to choose whether to have a child or not.

Marcotte writes that there is a split in the anti-choice movement:

As reproductive rights activists have noted for a couple of years now, there’s a war breaking out between two anti-choice groups, the incrementalists and the absolutists. Both largely agree on the goals of the movement, which is a complete ban on all abortion, with severe restrictions and possibly bans on contraception as well. What they disagree about is tactics. Incrementalists view themselves the more mainstream branch of the movement, and they focus mainly on chipping away at abortion rights. They’re wary of taking the fight to the courts, who tend to routinely shoot down any legislation perceived as an out-and-out ban on abortion.

The absolutists, on the other hand, claim this is a failed strategy and want to come out of the closet as full-throated soldiers in the war on women and sex, by directly attacking Roe v. Wade and taking the fight beyond abortion to contraception. Absolutists have managed to go around the more mainstream anti-abortion movement, passing legislation and gaining ground in the Republican Party. They’ve even managed to make Democrats cower, as evidenced by the highly unusual decision of the HHS to overrule the FDA’s decision to make Plan B available over the counter.

She goes on to name and describe eight groups that fit into the “scorched earth” category. Please read Marcotte’s article for more details, but I thought I’d list the groups and provide links to their web sites.

1. Personhood USA is focused on getting legislation passed that defines a zygote as a person. As we have discussed at Sky Dancing previously, such legislation would essentially mean a death sentence for women with ectopic pregnancies or incomplete miscarriages and would probably outlaw some types of contraception.

2. Live Action supports the personhood agenda and attacks Planned Parenthood. This is the group founded by Lila Rose that Dakinikat wrote about some time ago. Rose was 15 when she started the organization.

3. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops lobbies elected officials (even though they claim it’s not lobbying), hoping to overturn Roe v. Wade and outlaw contraception. Laura Bassett had an excellent piece about the Catholic Bishops at Huffpo last month.

4. Ohio ProLife Action is working toward a bill that would outlaw abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. The bill was presented in the Ohio Senate on December 7.

5. Susan B. Anthony List pressures legislators to sign a “pro-life presidential pledge.” They also work to defund Planned Parenthood and United Nations Population Fund because they provide contraceptive services and treat women who have had botched abortions.

6. Leslee Unruh with the Alpha Center in South Dakota. Unruh fought for and failed to get a bill passed that would have completely banned abortion in South Dakota. The legislature did pass a bill requiring women to obtain “counseling” at an anti-choice “crisis pregnancy center” before having an abortion. Unruh is also against contraception and works with teenagers to “awaken them to the truth about their sexuality.”

7. American Life League is an older organization that has worked for many years to overturn both Roe v. Wade and Griswold v. Connecticut, which made birth control legal for married people. This one sounds really sick–just go read Marcotte and then their website.

8. Marcotte says the anti-choice movement in Kansas is completely given over to the most extreme anti-abortion, anti-contraception, anti-women’s health views. She mentions the Kansas Coalition for Life, which harassed Dr. George Tiller until he was murdered and are now harassing Dr. Leroy Carhart of Nebraska. Apparently they also harass Kathleen Sibelius, which could partially explain her cowardly decision not to make Plan B available over the counter.

It’s pretty clear that there is a war on women going on in this country. Congress couldn’t even get a health care bill passed without cowtowing to fetus fetishists like Bart Stupak. Kudos to Amanda Marcotte for pulling together all this information. I know some of you are probably familiar with these organizations already, but for me googling and looking at their web sites was a real eye-opener.

You’d think Timothy Egan could have mentioned some of this anti-woman fever in his article, but either he hasn’t noticed it or he didn’t want to ruin his feel-good narrative. But women are under attack from every quarter these days. Perhaps the NYT should hire a few women to write op-eds about it.

16 Comments on “Earth to Corporate Media: We’re in the Midst of a War on Women”

  1. dakinikat says:

    Great information for those of us that care about women’s issues! It drives me nuts that no one sees that our version of religious extremists are as anti women as the ones that aren’t generally accepted in this country. These folks need to keep it to themselves. It’s awful they’ve been allowed to get such a footing in everything. But then, that was the goal in the 1970s and they’ve worked at infiltrating every thing since then. The Republican Party used to support both abortion rights and the ERA. They are as pervasive as the Taliban is in Afghanistan and just as dangerous if not more so, because so few people here realize how extreme and crazy they are because it strikes too close to home for most people.

    Young women really need to wake up and get more active. They’re going to be enslaved at his rate.

    • bostonboomer says:

      You know these organizations better than I do. Just looking at the websites made me feel queasy, especially the one for that women in South Dakota who focuses on brainwashing adolescents. I suppose that’s how Lila Rose was created.

      • dakinikat says:

        Just think of all the institutions that brainwash children and young adults. Look what happened to Michelle Bachmann. She’s like the perfect example of a cult member and people still vote for her. She called herself the ‘victim’ of divorce the other day. They obviously got her when she was still hurting about that and she’s still into it up to her eyeballs. Especially those wild crazy eyeballs.

      • ralphb says:

        “Wild crazy eyeballs” is right. That’s a pretty odd construct for divorce.

      • ralphb says:

        I left my court appearance whistling and drove off singing like a bird. I was ecstatic to get it over with.

      • A lot of children are the ‘victims’ of unhappily married parents. Just sayin’.

    • Susan says:

      I am NOT defending Mihele Bachmann but she was talking about her parents’ divorce when she was an adolescent. And, yes, children, sometimes, are victimized by divorce. One or both of their parents may be ecstatically happy but women and children usually endure a lower standard of living post-divorce and children have their lives changed in other fundamental ways that generally includes reduced access to one or both parents.

      • ralphb says:

        That’s a different thing and I agree that children often have to weather some bad storms due to divorce. That’s the fault of the parents, or a parent, usually and not because of the institution.

        If my ex’s standard of living changed, it was maybe for the better, since she took off free and clear while I got the children and our debts. I got the best end of that deal and my kids turned out great. Hooray for divorce in this case.

      • Susan says:

        I am not opposed to divorce, per se, ralphb. Sometimes, it’s the only answer.

        I’m very glad that your children had you to love and care for them but, surely, you know that you are in the minority as a man who took full responsibility for your children. Much more often, it’s the mother who assumes full responsiblity for the children and she usually makes less money than her husband does, as well.

        Can you imagine any woman being elected to Congress who owes a $100,000 in back child support as Joe Walsh does?

      • ralphb says:

        I honestly can’t think of a woman being elected like that rat Joe Walsh. Most women I know wouldn’t dream of it in fact. Walsh should be jailed and forced to pay his child support, then thrown out of office by the voters. That he got some award from a Family Organization is a real travesty and made that group a joke.

        Our society is very unfair to women and girls and will probably always be that way until an ERA is passed and pushed hard on every level.

  2. ralphb says:

    Egan is an idiot. Once again, I am ashamed of my own gender. Sigh,

  3. grayslady says:

    It’s hardly surprising that you won’t see any stories in the traditional media about the war on women. How many women are employed by major newspapers? Not many, if you check the bylines in the papers; and those that are on the payroll are trying to earn their stripes with foreign assignments. The two editorial biddies at the NYTimes–Gail Collins and Maureen Dowd? Both Roman Catholics. (They probably are in agreement with the pro-fetus crowd.) As for tv, I can’t think of anyone who might take up the cause, including Rachel Maddow. Most are just coiffured heads being paid a handsome salary for reading off a cue card. It seems those of us who are pro-choice only have the blogs and social media. Even NARAL only exists anymore to perpetuate itself.

  4. Branjor says:

    The whole “war on women” thing is so perverted. Child bearing is an ability. Abilities are things you can do, but don’t have to. These people are trying to change it from an ability to a sentence, something you *have* to do. Apparently they don’t like women having abilities men don’t have, so women are being sentenced for the “crime.”

  5. ralphb says:

    “Yes, Gingrich should be immensely vulnerable. But he has a sort of emotional bond with the base — the shared snarl — that may well carry him through.” — Paul Krugman

    I approve of that remark 🙂