Whatever the outcomes in 2012, Women will lose

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.


27 Comments on “Whatever the outcomes in 2012, Women will lose”

  1. peggysue22 says:

    Excellent post, Dak. A clear reminder of what we as women are up against in the current cultural wars spearheaded by the GOP but given feint thrusts back by our supposedly Democratic representatives. I agree, btw, that our response should be firm support of candidates, those sitting and those running in 2012, who have not only a convincing spiel [as POTUS had for so many in 2008] but a track record that can be investigated and judged by the electorate.

    No more lip service. No more party branding [he/she’s a Dem, so it’s A-okay]. No more go along to get along.

    As for Santorum and his sweater-vest review? Santorum like Barack Obama is a symptom of what the legacy parties have devolved into. For the GOP, it’s Guns, God and Gays [and/or anything that has to do with sexual/reproductive choice]. For the Dems, it’s SellOut City, whispering sweet nothings in our ear as they sell our interests to the highest bidder [not to be outdone by their Republican competition].

    2012 is looking to be a wild and wooly year. Certainly, not for the faint of heart.

    Frankly, the story on the Santorum miscarriage is almost ghoulish from my point of view. But, it’s up to the family to make these sorts of decisions, private decisions. It’s the sort of story that should never be put up for public review, the sort of thing you keep with the privacy of your own family. These public confessionals, tell-all books have real liabilities and, in fact, make a mockery of private loss. It was very foolish of the Santorum family to release the material and disputes the old saying: All PR is good PR.

    Good read!

    • dakinikat says:

      Thanks. I agree with everything including once the story is out there for the public to read, you shouldn’t act incensed when people find it reveals something more about the nature of your mind that you intended.

  2. Allie says:

    Whoa – where do you start with Santorum?? The priggish statement “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.” is laughable. I assume he is referring to sex within marriage, but I’d love for him to spell out, in extreme detail, what sex acts are OK for the rest of us. I’d like a reporter to ask him about oral and anal sex, what ages can have sex with what other ages and if a civil union is OK or does the marriage have to be a religious union? And does he approve of Dirty Sanchezes or is that not how sex is supposed to be…

    And there are so many reasons not to vote for BHO besides his lack of support for women’s issues. A vote for him is a vote for the status quo. Never mind he’s a child murderer.

    • ralphb says:

      Unfortunately, no one running on either the D or R side would be less of a child murderer. I can’t imagine any of the credible R candidates ending the drone wars.

    • northwestrain says:

      Missionary position will be strictly enforced??

      Are we watching a de-evolution?

      We know how to prevent pregnancies – but a wacked out wing nut minority wants to force their will on the majority.

      OK then — cancer is “natural” and many diseases are preventable — but they are “natural” — so all illness should be allowed to run their course?

      Either we are modern humans, willing to use technology to improve our lives — or we return to the stone age and let nature take its course.

      • ralphb says:

        Either we are modern humans, willing to use technology to improve our lives — or we return to the stone age and let nature take its course.

        Sounds like the Paul Ryan Medicare reform proposal.

    • I’d like someone to ask him how he reconciles his Catholicism and narrow views on sex with the Catholic Church’s behavior to, not only, not ex-communicate the offending priests but to cover up the rape & sex abuse of children by those priests and move them to a new parish where they continued raping and abusing children. Frankly I’m surprised that Catholics didn’t exit the church in droves when the Church finally acknowledged this “dirty little secret.”

      • Stephanie says:

        In the early 90s, we had one of those dirty secrets at our local Catholic grade school. Quite a few people did exit the church in response (completely exit, not just relocate to a new parish). Not droves, but I bet the exit was repeated all over the country.

  3. northwestrain says:

    The legacy parties could care less about the human rights of women — or women’s rights are human rights.

    0bama has a clear record on women’s rights — and it is NOT a very good record. Women will die because of his anti-women decisions. 0bama would rather bow to the patriarchal women hating Catholic church.

    The 0bot females (Keli Gof) will be ratcheting up the fear of the “bad” legacy party– while trying to pain 0bowma as the savior. KG is as much the enemy as any of the GOP females who stand by their men.

    The title of this essay — is the absolute truth. All women will be the losers — no matter which legacy party they vote for.

  4. A terrific post. Unfortunately, I’ve resigned myself to Less Horrible because the alternative is terrifying. All of the Republican candidates scare me senseless. At one time I had hopes that American would actually become a democracy for all in my lifetime. It seems clear that’s not going to happen. I’m with Ralph Nader on the Tweedledum & Tweedledee analogy when viewing the Dems & the Repugs. A government of the Corporations, by the Corporations & for the Corporations regardless of which party is in the WH. It’s going to take a serious revolution in our country to scare the 1% who control our economy and governments. Any chance we, as women, could take over a state and secede from the Union? I’m just glad I’m well past my reproductive stage. That’s one benefit of getting older.

    • dakinikat says:

      Women had to take to the streets just to get the vote. I think we need to look a lot more at what the suffragettes did to take back the agenda.

      • Not only the streets, but they were imprisoned, went on hunger strikes and were force fed. It’s taken an uprising to get the vote, to get unions in place, minimum wage, 40 hour work week,child labor laws and civil rights.

      • Fannie says:

        I hear ya, National Woman’s Party……………..

  5. ralphb says:

    Some strategy needs to be developed to push the D’s to do what their constituents need them to do, but what would work? With the majority of the money on the other side, it would have to be a real threat from a large number of people to withhold their votes. I don’t even know if that would work now.

    • thewizardofroz says:


      Withholding our votes is really the only way to do it. In fact, I did not vote for my congressman (Pallone) in 2010 because even though he’s got a “D” after his name and claims to be pro-choice, he voted for Obamacare. Same goes this time. And that’s the same reason I will not be voting again for Senator Menendez. I don’t think of them as the lesser of two evils. I think when it comes to the treatment of women, what they’ve done is evil, and I’m not going to reward them for it.

      Since many of these so-called Democrats will be reelected, a major first step towards getting them to come to their senses and start acting like Democrats is for Obama to be out of the White House. Unless that happens, nothing will change. I will not be voting for any Republicans, (my vote for McCain was a one-time protest vote),but I thnk the only way the party fka the Democrats might regain its principles is for there to be an all-Republican government again,

      Unless a third party candidate is on the NJ ballot whom I can support (I’m thinking of the Justice Party’s Rocky Anderson), this will be the first time in my voting life dating back to 1964 that I will stay home.

      Roz in NJ/NYC

  6. foxyladi14 says:

    they don;t need us . 🙄

  7. ralphb says:

    Just at reminder, some people are already in the streets. Semper fi to this girl!

    A 14-Year-Old Occupier Gets Arrested in Iowa—and Her Dad Approves

  8. Outis says:

    My understanding is that Mrs. Santorum had in fact a late term abortion. Labor was induced by doctors to abort the fetus and save the mother’s life, which according to Santorum–who ok’d the procedure for his wife–is a partial birth abortion and should be considered a criminal offense. It was not a spontaneous miscarriage.

    And just to add some hypocrisy icing on that cake, “Today, hindsight being 20/20, Karen says she would have authorized the procedure after all, justifying the saving of her own life by explaining that her other children would have lost a mother.”

    • dakinikat says:

      Yup. That’s basically it in their terms. It was not spontaneous at all.

      • Outis says:

        I would love for someone to say to that man, “I am a doctor and I agree with your stance on abortion.” To which Santorum might smile and gurgle some nonsensical drivel. And then follow up with “I would have saved the life of the woman as well.” And watch the look on his face.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Oh Outis, that is rich! You are right…hypocrisy and crazy corpse behavior. Thanks for bringing up that point.

      On another thing, I am glad that a suspect is being held in the LA fires…you got me worried about your safety the other day when you told us about the guy starting a fire in your back yard.

      • Outis says:

        Thanks MM for the good thoughts. I’m really glad they think they caught him too. It doesn’t sound like there’s been more fires.

  9. Caro says:

    I just had to give you a better “Less Horrible” poster.

    Here it is:

    Carolyn Kay

  10. Minkoff Minx says:

    Dak I love this post!