Earth to Corporate Media: We’re in the Midst of a War on WomenPosted: December 12, 2011
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.
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.