In the days leading to the November mid-term elections, the highly charged issues were government intervention in health care (ObamaCare), the soaring fiscal debt and the lack of jobs. Republicans promised that their first priorities were jobs, jobs and jobs. Next they would tackle health care by introducing a better plan for Americans. In the time that they have been in office, the only decisive action is —- against women. The fundamentalist fervor in State Legislatures and the US House is focused on controlling women’s bodies and their lives. The attacks against women have reached new lows and are echoes of the repressions in third world countries.
In the US House, Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) included in his No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion (H.R. 3) a provision about “forcible” rape – clearly changing the definition of rape. The outcry was so loud and Jon Stewart so belittling that he promised to removed the term. To date the language remains – is this another empty Republican promise? To make his bill even more dangerous to women he included the same provision that is in H.R. 358, The Protect Life Bill introduced by Representative Joe Pitts (R-PA). This provision says that if a pregnant woman comes to a hospital and is in danger of dying due to medical complication, a hospital can refuse treatment if the treatment would destroy the fetus while saving the mother. To restate this – a fetus is more important than the woman. It is okay to kill the woman. Her life is forfeit, not worth saving. The protected life in this bill is not for the woman. (As an aside, since 1986 all hospitals that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding have been bound to provide care in the case of life or death situations regardless of ability to pay and other factors, under EMTALA.)
In state after state, legislators are writing bills that are end runs
around the current federal law regarding abortion rights. Abortions are legal procedures, a fact that is overlooked by many. Below are a few of the proposed or passed laws.
In Ohio, the Heartbeat Bill uses the first sign of a fetal heartbeat as the cut off time for abortions. Since a heartbeat may be detected as early as 18 days, this bill effectively outlaws abortion in Ohio. If this passes, expect other state legislators to introduce this bill.
In Texas, anti-abortion legislation is being expedited by Republican Governor Rick Perry. One of the three bills in the pipeline requires not only that a woman must have an ultrasound, she must have it at least 2 hours before a planned abortion. The physician must describe the image and she must listen to the heartbeat. There is no concern here that a woman has made her decision and it is not the responsibility of the government to force her to change. The paternalistic attitude toward women has its roots in the belief that women cannot make responsible choices, their only worth and duty is to bear children and raise them.
In Kentucky, a woman must have an ultrasound and if she elects not to view it, a technician must describe it to her. She then has to wait 24 hours before having the legal procedure.
In Idaho, recently a pharmacist refused to fill a prescription because he thought it was for post-abortion care. This was ruled to be legal based on his not having to give medicine that is against his conscience. The fact that the woman could bleed to death was not considered a matter of conscience.
In Arkansas, a bill is being proposed to limit (prevent) abortion coverage in private insurance plans. In fact, blocking insurance coverage for abortion is being discussed through out the country and in some of the bills in the US House. The intent is to make it impossible for women to have insurance coverage for abortion even in private plans.
Controlling women’s bodies and minds is the real agenda of the 2011 elected Republicans. These draconian laws should not even be discussed in the 21st Century America. For a party that screams about Big Brother, government coming between a doctor and patient, death panels and the right of an individual to bear arms, these attacks on women are the ultimate in hypocrisy. The ultrasounds, the determination of viability, the 100% intervention between a doctor and a patient are glaring examples of a party that wants to force its beliefs on women. Forcing a woman to undergo a procedure like an ultrasound is a violation of her rights. Forcing her to view and/or listen to a description is not only a violation of her rights but sadistic. Forcing a woman to die rather then give her life-saving treatment is murder. Forcing a woman to bear a child she cannot care for is Big Brother in 2011.
Silence is unacceptable. The outrage against the forcible rape language may have caused Rep. Smith to change his language. The outrage at all of these laws must be loud and persuasive. Please contact your elected representatives.
Please join JAC in Washington May 5 as we visit our elected representatives and let them know we are watching and expect them to support our rights. We will not accept Big Brother in 2011.
Gail Yamner, President