Remember the Ladies

“I long to hear that you have declared an independancy – and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.”
- Abigail Adams, 1776

As I watched the election results roll in last Tuesday, I couldn’t help but think of this quote by Abigail Adams.  While Tuesday was not what Abigail Adams had in mind with that quote, the 2012 election is definitely the election that remembered the ladies.  Over the past couple of years we saw overreaching laws against women’s rights emerge at the local level and attempts by lawmakers to redefine biology, rape and take away a family’s privacy in the form of explaining/justifying contraception usage to employers.  As I’ve mentioned previously, we are witnessing Evangelical politics’ extinction burst before our very eyes, and it is wrapping its mangled claws around anything it can to stay relevant and keep women “in their place.”

Judging by the election results, I was happy, relieved, proud and hopeful to see not only a push back against these ideas, but to see an unprecedented number of women elected to federal office with a number of “firsts.” Some notables are:

  • Consumer watchdog and Daily Show favorite Elizabeth Warren replacing Scott Brown in Massachusetts. This is the first time Massachusetts elected a female senator.
  • Democrat Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin and Republican Deb Fischer in Nebraska are also first-time female senators for their respective states. Baldwin will also be the first openly lesbian senator.
  • Democrat Tammy Duckworth from Illinois will serve as the first female member of Congress who was injured in combat.
  • The two wins in New Hampshire by Ann McLane Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter mean New Hampshire’s entire delegation is made up of women.
  • Arizona’s own Kyrsten Sinema, the first openly-bisexual member of congress, and personally one of my favorite Arizonans. Anyone who has seen Kyrsten in action knew she was going to go places. I can’t wait to see her take on Washington.

I mention these women because I hope this indicates a trend where these wins will no longer be notable, but commonplace.  We have quite a way to go but this seems like a big step in the right direction towards diversity.

Beyond electing a diverse group of women into Washington, voters sent a message to candidates who proved to be apathetic and uneducated on rape and women’s rights: The man who said women’s bodies had a way of “shutting down” a pregnancy from rape, the guy who equated rape to having a baby out of wedlock, and the guy who said a pregnancy from rape was a gift from God were all defeated.  Exit polls indicated that 61% of those who voted against Akin attributed their vote to his comments about rape.   It would appear that men and women in this country who believe in both science and the separation of church and state understand the dangers of electing those who believe in neither.

Does this mean “we’ve won”? No; this fight is far from over.  When dealing with ideas that people hold dear to their hearts it would be foolish to think that they would simply put their tail between their legs and hide in a corner.  History shows that quite the opposite occurs – the belief becomes stronger and the voices become louder.  We saw this most recently in 2008 with the fanatics who screamed, protested and accused the president of being some Kenyan-born, Muslim, Hitlerwannabe extremist, Manchurian, OrlyTaitified, Militant Christian Extremist, Witch Doctor, Angry Black Man, Middle-East Apologist, Abortion-Loving, Drug-Dealing, Intellectual, didn’t earn his admission to Harvard, unAmerican, vegetable-growing, NOBAMA, OBAMINATION, dictator freak with big ears.

Did I miss anything?  Wow, that seriously felt like I just performed a seance and was possessed by one of the superPACs recently killed in this election cycle. Shudder…

Anyway…point being, history and psychology show when someone’s belief system is challenged they don’t fold, they double-down.  What does this mean for the ladies? Expect to see more ballot measures and bills introduced on the state level limiting a woman’s right to choose or access to contraception.  Expect to find additional ballot measures and bills disguised as one thing (“protecting women’s health” is a popular red herring) but have an underlying effect of achieving these goals.  This is what is going to happen, and for those of you who “sent the message” last Tuesday, know that your work isn’t done.  Smaller off-cycle elections are coming up to try and undo some of the work of this election.  Additionally, states like Arizona and Mississippi simply do not have the votes to stand against these intrusions. What can you do? My advice? Be loud, be active, educate yourself and provide support in whatever way you can to continue the efforts you believe in.  Whether that is for reproductive rights or simply for rape education is your choice.  Whether it is donating your time or your money to causes that align with your views is also your choice. These things sneak in when we are complacent – the only way to fight successfully is to never be complacent.

Remember the ladies.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

HB2036: When Republican isn’t Conservative and Pro-Life Isn’t Pro-Life

As part of evangelical politics’ extinction burst,  we are witnessing a bizarre war on women in this country.  My home state of Arizona, in an attempt to retain its Heavyweight Champion Belt in Yosemite Sam-ism, recently took the lead in this war by introducing overreaching, extremist legislation that would make Barry Goldwater turn in his grave.  I’m assuming that a few of the elected cockroaches in the state capitol building realized that their lives were still incredibly shitty after driving out all the “illegal Mexicans”, and decided to make women number two on their Shit List.  It couldn’t possibly be because they are horrible people who make horrible decisions, could it? Never! It’s got to be the Mexicans and the bitches.

While I gave Governor Jan Brewer a polite golf-clap for suggesting Debbie Lesko’s anti-birth control bill appeared to be a gross invasion of privacy, I take back any and all praise when she signed the other oppressive, anti-woman bill, HB 2036 into law.  While sites like Mother Jones have done a decent job of covering the part of the bill making abortions after 20 weeks illegal, there are a number of disturbing points within the law’s 27 pages of requirements that aren’t getting a whole lot of attention.  For example:

- A provider must provide the patient with the gestational age of the fetus and list the risks associated with abortions. Sounds simple enough if not a bit redundant, right?  The state takes it 900 steps too far by overriding actual medical science and requiring a doctor to use their definition of gestational age and disregard the true age of the fetus when it can be more accurately determined.  A provider cannot list the risks of the procedure based off of fact-based science.  No, the state tells the provider specifically what to tell the patient, because some representative read a couple of articles, and surely that gives them more knowledge than the person who spent years and years of schooling and continuing education on the matter.

- The provider must tell the patient in person that “medical assistance benefits may be available for prenatal care, child birth and neonatal care,” the father of the child is liable to assist in child support, and there are public and private agencies to help the woman if she chooses to not have an abortion.  Because discussing what the state might do for you is the responsibility of a doctor.  Oh, and these state “benefits” aren’t exactly “available.”  More on that later.

- The state requires the provider must offer to describe the state-mandated ultrasound in detail to the patient, and mandates what physical features the provider is required to describe to the patient on the ultrasound.

- The patient must have a 24-hour “reflection period” between seeing the abortion provider and going back for the abortion, because the state is assuming you horrible ladies are incapable of considering the ramifications of this procedure and need to be put in a time out. Since many abortion providers were driven out of the state on prior laws, this 24 hour period is also designed to create another hurdle for disadvantaged women in rural areas, since they’ll have to travel quite a distance for the procedure, pay for a hotel room they can’t afford, and take time off from a job they can’t lose. 

- Non-pregnant taxpayer/voter? You think you’re off the hook? No, the state is using your taxpayer dollars to maintain a website that “describes the unborn child” to the woman.  This description must show and describe fetal development, and must include all of the same items the doctor is required to tell the patient.  Despite the fact that this information is already one easy Google click or library visit away, we are putting a few people on our cash-strapped government payroll to do this.  Oh, and the web site must be “objective, nonjudgmental and designed to convey only accurate information about the unborn child at the various gestational ages.” Remember,  the doctor has to use a state-defined version of “gestational age,” not the objective, non-judgmental accurate version. Because you’re using two different definitions, doesn’t that cause a misrepresentation of fetal development by 2-3 weeks? I see what you did there, Arizona. Clever, clever…

If the provider doesn’t do everything as strictly defined in this law, he or she can lose their license and be sued by a host of people.  So let me get this straight, Arizona Republican Legislature:

- Your party’s platform is supposed to be for tort and malpractice reform, but you just wrote a law making it easier for an OB-GYN to get sued.  This causes malpractice insurance to go up in our state, and will drive specialized care out of Arizona – a state that is already desperate for specialized care in rural areas.  Good job.

- Another aspect of your party’s “limited government” platform is to not create redundant laws.  While many of the provisions of this law are being touted as protecting a women’s health, every aspect that protects the woman’s health in this bill (the quality of the clinic, informing the patient of medical risks, etc.) is already covered in other laws as well as in medical licensing standards.

- You strip taxpayer dollars from services that can actually help Arizonans (again, more on that later), but you just mandated that the state pay for some stupid web site that provides information that can be found elsewhere without costing taxpayers a dime.

- Your party claims they don’t want to legislate people’s lives, and well…here we are, yet again.

Way to be a conservative.  So let’s talk about the word “Pro-Life.”  What does that word mean to you? Because I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

As I mentioned above, the new law wants healthcare providers to talk about the services the state “may offer” to moms.  The key word in there is “may,” because here’s the colossal fail that that resides in “may”:

- In 2011 Arizona cut services for children with developmental delays and froze health insurance for the poor.  Because of these cuts, 85,000 children were on the waiting list for KidsCare.

- Thanks to our poorly funded health programs, Arizona is currently ranked 47th out of 51 in the country for children who are insured, 44th for parents who are insured, 40th for children who have had a preventative medical visit in the past year, 45th for children with preventative dental visits, dead last for children with special health care needs in need of referrals, and 40th for children who are at a moderate to high risk for developmental or behavioral delays.

So we’ve established that Arizona pretty much sucks at providing adequate health care to these babies they want to save.  How else does Arizona protect its children? Haha, good one.  Yet again, needed services were cut from the state’s budget because we’re so goshdurn conservative, and yet again, CPS remained grossly underfunded.  We expect master’s level counselors with a mountain of student loan debt to accept a nearly unlivable wage, be responsible for more kids in one month than most people will know in their lifetime, fight the red tape war every day, only to get persecuted by state politicians when a kid dies.  Sign me up! Representatives actually have the gall to go on our local news and state that they “don’t want to throw money at the problem.” You say throwing money at a problem;  I call it FUNDING A NEEDED SERVICE. To-may-to, To-mah-to, I guess? A recent report showed the fruits of our non-labor, non-money-throwing actions and the results were damning:

- CPS currently has a backlog of 8400 cases, with cases dating back to last summer that still have not been investigated

- We have 11,535 children in state custody

- There is a 20% increase in neglect reports

- There is a 10% increase in the number of kids entering foster care, yet the number of foster homes continue to decline, meaning there are children waiting longer in group homes and crisis shelters.

We’ve got kids suffering and dying thanks to the state’s lack of funding and care, yet these same people are claiming they want to save a few fetuses…for what, exactly?  So you can let these fetuses become babies and give them the chance to experience the joys of behavioral and developmental problems, or for you to kill them slowly through your profound apathy and class warfare against the poor? So you can stand behind their mother in the supermarket line – the mother you coerced into having a child – and judge her when she uses her food stamp card? So you can then cut food stamps funding to put your shaming on paper? So you can feel better about yourself in your Paradise Valley McMansion, because you showed that woman – God blessed you and damned her.  How dare she expect the state to help her after the state promised there’d be services available? How dare she take a penny from you to try and feed that child or take her baby to the doctor for a checkup.  Doesn’t she know you have valets to tip?

She should have been abstinent.  Oh that’s right, we’ve learned that doesn’t really work.  She should have just practiced safe sex.  That’s what someone said in sex ed.  Oh, that’s right, you made Arizona’s abstinence-focused sex ed optional.  You also have laws pending preventing her right to receive birth control.  She should put her child up for adoption…and let those kids in foster care, group homes and crisis shelters wait even longer for a place to go?  And for you to slut-shame her when you find out she’s *gasp* an unmarried woman?  Or *confused gasp* is married and doesn’t want to keep her child?  Well, she could just go and get an abor…

Oh.  Oops…

Portrait of a Whore Pill-Popping Godless Harlot

First of all, I am a human.

Second, I am a woman.

I love, I sympathize, and I like helping people.  I believe in the American Dream.  I really do like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain, although I do not care for that song.  At all.  I cry when I read a sad story about someone I don’t even know.  I have a feeling if you and I sat down for tea and didn’t talk a peep of politics, I’d like you.  I’d even make you some of my famous banana bread.

I am imperfect.  I occasionally act like a know-it-all, but I know I have a lot to learn.

I was a registered Republican for many years, believe it or not.  I dated and lived with a man for nearly eight years before marrying him.  Our nine year anniversary is at the end of May.  We make an odd pair, he and I, but every day is interesting.  I love him, I respect him, and I am proud of him.

I am not a Whore Pill-Popping Godless Harlot, I am you.

Okay, I’m not exactly like you: I did take the whore pills for about 15 years, so I guess that would qualify as whore pill-popping.  Allow me to give a little background on this one:

See, when I was a teenager, I got the worst kind of cramps imaginable.  It felt like someone scraped the insides of my uterus with a box cutter.  It would hurt so bad, it would somehow impact the nerves in my legs, and my thighs would throb with pain.  My skin would go ashen, and I would throw up.  By the time I hit college, it generally got better, but there were days I felt so much pain, I couldn’t leave my bed let alone my room.  It would be easy for me to say this was the sole reason I went on the Pill, and you’d probably agree that is reasonable.  If I said that, I wouldn’t be entirely truthful.

I also went on the pill because I made a choice.  I did not want to have children, and I was well aware of the statistics for children born to young mothers.  Did you know that sons of teen mothers are more likely to go to prison, and daughters are more likely to become teen mothers themselves?  Nearly 80% of teen mothers wind up on welfare.  If I did want children, I’d want them to have the best chance possible.  There are so many unavoidable obstacles in raising a child – don’t you agree we should do our best to avoid those we can?  That’s why a lot of women take the Pill for contraceptive purposes.  These aren’t just teens, or even unmarried women.  Many women on the pill are wives and already loving mothers.  They take the Pill because they understand the financial and emotional realities of being a parent, and want to provide their existing children the best opportunities possible.  The Pill helps a husband and wife plan their family for success.

When I made my decision, I realized I had to take my health, my life, and my well-being into my own hands, rather than in the hands of another person.  I made a responsible choice to take the Pill – the most effective form of birth control this side of sterilization.  When I went on it, I had been with my future husband for a while, and we had a long-term monogamous relationship.  It made sense to take this next step.  I also liked the idea of not being bedridden from pain every month.

See, what worries me about your anti-birth control agenda is you’re shaming a young woman when you should be applauding her.  She is making sensible choices and putting her needs and the needs of her potential future children first.  She knows she’s not in a position or condition to have children and as a result, she’s setting up a better life for her future children down the line, if she chooses to have any.

Here in Arizona, there is a proposed bill that explicitly singles out birth control as an acceptable thing to discriminate against on health plans.  Not only does the bill single out birth control from an unending list of things health plans provide that an employer can have a “religious or moral objection” to (such as the non-procreation-sex-promoting Viagra, or you know, blood transfusions), it exhibits remarkable ignorance on how benefit plans are designed and on the Pill itself.  It is also designed to shame the woman: she would have to not only provide her employer with proof she was taking the Pill for non-contraceptive purposes, the bill allows the employer to charge the employee for all fees incurred by her employer while they confirmed she wasn’t a Whore-Pill Popping Godless Harlot.  Oh, dads aren’t off the hook either – they can look forward to explaining to their employer that their 16 year-old dependant has crippling cramps and is not in fact, a Godless Harlot.  They can also enjoy paying the fees for the interrogation into their family life and determination of moral character.

Is this what we’ve come to?  Shaming women for being responsible about their bodies and their future? Arizona, a state with the 5th highest poverty rates in the country, 2nd highest teen pregnancy rates, and low high school completion rates, thinks it’s a good idea to create thinly veiled social legislation shaming a family for determining what is best for them?  How is this limited government again?

I really want to believe you are someone who means well but are so removed from the every day reality of hard-working young American women and their families, you are simply making ill-informed statements and decisions.  We can work together on that one, because I’d like to think you want to be educated on the reality of your constituents.  My fear is that despite your touting first amendment rights, you actually want to marry church and state as long as it is your religion that marries the two.  If that is the case, I am afraid we cannot come to an agreement.  I just request that you explicitly tell your constituents the truth behind your actions rather than cherry-pick justifications for forcing your religious beliefs on others via public office.

Now that we have come to this, I recognize you would still probably see me as a Whore Pill-Popping Godless Harlot.

But I know I’m still you, I’m just lucky to be on this side of your bubble.