Will W. Romney, P. Ryan Remove Women’s Reproductive Rights if Elected?

Major news media seems to have been utterly hypnotized by W. Romney’s endless vacillations and changed policy positions. But taking a step back from the enormous cloud of smoke currently being produced by the Romney campaign, we can look at clear signals via both his chosen staff and his past preferences to see which way key policy choices are likely to go.

The first, and most critical, issue is women’s reproductive rights. As a haven for leaders who are willing to let their religious beliefs transfer to laws governing women’s bodies, the US has had a very rocky history of women’s rights. Key reproductive freedoms like access to birth control and family planning services were only won during a brief period of renaissance during the 1960s and 1970s. The establishment of an abortion freedom via the Roe v. Wade decision put the capstone on women’s reproductive freedom in America and ushered in a world-wide age of expanded rights for women around the globe.

Even as these new freedoms were put in place, though, enemies of women’s rights gathered in a generations-long attempt to return America to the dark days of back alley abortions and to a time when certain forms of contraception were illegal. This backlash gained steam during the 1980s and continues to this day in the form of, likely, four conservative Supreme Court justices who are ideologically disposed to overturning Roe v. Wade. It also includes a massive influx of legislators who have fought vehemently in Congress to curtail women’s access to birth control, family planning, key health services, and to overturn abortion rights in even the most damaging and harmful cases.

In total, Republicans in the 112th Congress have voted 55 times to curtail women’s rights. This includes 17 votes to allow health insurance providers to discriminate against women, 11 votes to cut women’s access to preventive care (breast screenings etc), 10 votes to restrict access to abortion or roll back abortion rights, 7 votes to cut funding for women’s nutrition, 3 votes to block access to reproductive and maternal care services, 3 votes to undermine Medicare and Medicaid services to women, and 14 votes that undermine environmental laws protecting pregnant women from toxic substances (Source).

It is also worth noting that President Obama has indicated he will never acquiesce to the extreme anti-woman tendencies of the right wing and has threatened vetoes on any such legislation that crosses his desk.

These Republican anti-woman votes accounted for about 5% of all time spent by the 112th Congress. Among the leaders of this legislative war on women was none other than Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan. Ryan voted yes on almost every anti-woman bill submitted and has pushed for legislation making it illegal to perform an abortion even in cases of rape or incest. Ryan also pushed for a personhood bill that would make abortion even in the event of saving the mother’s life illegal. Ryan’s anti-woman votes parallel those of extremists Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock who have both said that even in cases of rape abortion should be illegal. Mourdock was recently quoted as saying that ‘God intended rape pregnancies’ (Source).

Riding in on this wave of Republican anti-women sentiment is Mitt Romney. Romney claimed as recently as a month ago that he would support legislation overturning Roe v. Wade. And his choice of running mate, Paul Ryan, is among the most anti-woman of a very anti-woman Republican House. Romney earlier noted that he would also overturn the Fair Pay Act. His campaign seems to sense a growing outrage among women and, so, over the past few weeks the Romney campaign has obfuscated past extreme anti-woman positions, attempting to appear kinder and gentler to women. But this is merely the desperate smoke screen of a candidate in jeopardy of losing and seeking to pander to all voters in hopes of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat (Source).

As we saw with Bush, promises of compassion made on the campaign trail have been about as valuable as a bucket of spit. And Romney, who has shown us only the endlessly changing face of a doppelganger, is certainly far from worthy of engendering trust.

In the case of a Romney election, there would be a very high risk that many women’s freedoms would be overturned. Romney-appointed justices would almost certainly be anti-abortion. Further, Romney would likely work with Republicans in Congress to continue to draft and expand anti-women legislation. A long march back to the days where women were treated as objects and property would have begun and much of the hard work of the brave American women of generations past is in dire danger of being removed should Romney be elected. Romney’s assurances to the contrary are merely empty words — a half-hearted and unclear pledge which holds no honor. To stake women’s future on such false promises and to ignore the Republican legacy of an endless war on women would be the very epitome of folly.

Links:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/11/paul-ryan-personhood_n_1767760.html

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American Outrage at Rush — A Warning to the Powerful

Nearly two weeks after Rush Limbaugh ignited a public firestorm by bullying Sandra Fluke over national airwaves for three days running, calls to advertisers and radio syndicates to have Rush taken off the air have only grown louder. Many in the mainstream media seemed taken aback by such a strong public response, shocked that so powerful a figure could be shaken to his very foundations by public outrage. Some, including Bill Maher who has born the brunt of republican attacks for his own off-color jokes targeting some women, have even defended Rush.

What the media seems to be missing is context, the deeply abusive nature of Rush Limbaugh’s public bullying, and the dreadful harm the slut shaming of a defenseless law student inflicts on us all. Nor does the media seem to fully realize how what Rush says and does is directly linked to the political activities of republicans in Congress and the ongoing conservative war on women’s health and reproductive freedoms.

Scared of Rush

As recently as two weeks ago, republican leader John Boehner admitted at a Congressional press conference that republicans, members of the most powerful government in the world, were scared of Rush Limbaugh — a powerful political radio pundit who sometimes hides behind the title ‘entertainer.’ The big man, issued an honorary position in Congress in the 1990s, wields vast political power through his 15 million radio viewers and his incessant calls for political action. He has been at the forefront of many republican political campaigns over the breadth of his reign as EIB pundit and, at every turn, he has challenged liberal power-brokers. In many ways, Rush is the hand that wields conservative power in Washington and this is done through the scope of his far-reaching radio show.

Gagging Sandra Fluke

Then came Sandra Fluke, the woman who was supposed to testify.

Back in late February, the republicans had doubled down on their war on women’s reproductive freedoms. As recently as mid-month, they had waged a disastrous campaign to defund Planned Parenthood. Republican attacks were spear-headed by the Susan G. Komen Foundation which had become a political arm of the republican attack through the actions of its right-wing CEO.

But this action back-fired. Massive internet and media campaigns were waged against Komen for their denial of Planned Parenthood funding. The result was that Komen lost many of its major donors and top execs at the foundation threatened to resign unless the policy was changed.

Failing this avenue of attack, republicans opened a new front, attempting to legislatively deny health care coverage for women’s contraception and reproductive services. In a political insult that is likely to resonate for decades to come, House Republicans called an all-male committee before a Congressional panel to discuss the reasons for rolling back women’s reproductive freedoms. Democrats attempted to call their own witness — Sandra Fluke. But, citing an arbitrary rule, republicans refused to allow her to speak.

This all male panel was a stark and blatant symbol of who was making these critical decisions about women’s reproductive freedoms — old white men. But added to this insult was the fact that even a single female voice was denied testimony. So, for days, Sandra Fluke was the woman who wasn’t allowed to speak.

Speech Draws Bullying

But women and liberals in Congress would not be completely silenced. A few days after the all-male panel testified, Sandra Fluke was called to speak in Congress by democrats who believed it was wrong to only hear one point of view. Ms. Fluke testified eloquently, passionately and openly — describing how valuable contraction and reproductive services were to women of her age. She provided a poignant personal narrative that drew a sharp contrast between the political posturing on the right and the real lives of ever-day Americans. And she made a strong intellectual and compassionate argument for continuing women’s freedoms and not to return to a narrow age of institutional bigotry.

Almost immediately, her testimony drew attacks from the right. They accused her of lying. They attacked her character. And they began to openly call her a slut for wanting access to contraception.

Rush Leads the Attack

Among the most loud in this slut-shaming was Rush Limbaugh. For three days straight, Rush used his massive radio infrastructure as a platform from which to attack Sandra Fluke. He repeatedly called her a slut, a whore, and a prostitute. He baldly stated that she must want contraception because she was having so much sex. He demanded that Sandra post sex videos on the internet in exchange for access to contraception.

Not only was Rush engaging in a most ugly form of character assassination against Sandra Fluke. He was also exploiting the notion of her femininity, rabidly engaging in the most lewd and obscene of sexual fantasies on the airwaves. His show made her the object of a vicious political pornography.

But the most egregious element of this assault was due to the nature of Sandra Fluke herself. She was not a political figure — a persona with the power or platform from which to defend herself from Rush’s abuse and character assassination. She had no individual power to repel or even respond to this level of media assault. She was one of the rest of us, thrust into her obligatory 15 minutes of fame on a slide lined with right-wing razors. And they were tearing her apart.

Women and People Who Love Women Rise Up

Witnessing this terrible abuse, the modern equivalent of an unjust public torture and execution, many people were no longer able to remain silent. For years, bearing the assaults of Rush and other right-wing ideologues, women, feminists, and their supporters rose up. A call for a Rush advertiser boycott rang out, was picked up, and went viral. Thousands of bloggers, hundreds of thousands of social networkers, the Occupy movement, and many, many more all began independent campaigns targeting Rush’s radio advertisers.

And their message was this: you can attack the powerful, those who are strong enough to defend themselves. But if you attack one of us, one of the meek, one of the powerless, one of those who deserve our care, our love, our compassion, then we will rise up. If you do this, we will do everything we can to remove you from power and responsibility. If you cannot exercise your power with decency and kindness, then you will suffer revolt and loss of power.

They say the meek shall inherit… Then do no harm to the meek…

http://www.change.org/petitions/advertisers-take-rush-limbaugh-off-the-air-for-bigotry-against-sandra-fluke-women

 

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The Importance of Women and Why We Should Cherish Their Freedom

Yesterday was International Women’s Day. But you couldn’t tell by the rabid war being waged by a wretched cadre in our political and media systems. All over the country, legislation curtailing women’s reproductive freedoms is currently being pushed by republicans in state and national congresses.

In Georgia, female representatives walked out in protest over the latest insult to women’s freedom passed by republican majorities. Overall, more than 430 bills have been submitted that limit access to contraception and reproductive services this year alone. These arrows of oppression are launching at a higher rate than even last year which saw a total of more than 1100 bills assaulting women’s health. The most egregious bills include mandatory invasive ultrasounds, now the law of the land in Texas. But some are simply quibbling, insulting, and demeaning examples of men attempting to exercise power over women’s sexuality.

The attacks are being driven by an extreme religious institution that has dominated the republican party and the nation’s airwaves. These religious and media attacks have, at their root, an ancient and black tradition of misogyny. For a brief time during the twentieth century, this anti-woman, dominionist world-view was rolled back in favor of liberation. But now anti-enlightenment forces have gained ground and are using their power to roll back the clock on women’s freedoms. The battle we find raging in our systems of power, though not new, is very destructive to our civilization, to our marriages, to our opportunities as individuals and as couples, and to the ability of the poor to climb up out of poverty.

Harm to women’s freedoms is harm to us all. Indeed, our society’s civility can be judged by how we treat the most defenseless among us. And women, who are physically less powerful than men, and are seen as kinder, gentler, are a favored victim of bullies and of institutional bullying.

But there are more practical issues involving women’s reproductive freedoms that impact us all. And we should all, men and women both, think long and hard before we allow them to be removed.

Contraception Prevents Poverty

In the past, women who were poor were often also shackled with unwanted pregnancies. Women already suffering from poverty and finding themselves needing to care for a child or two, or three, or four often had only one option — marrying a man who could provide for them. This constraint limited the role of a majority of women to bearing and caring for children. It also reduced the options of couples. A man was almost universally forced to work to help feed his growing brood. And with each new child, the financial options of families became more and more constrained. On the other hand, families who plan their children are enabled to hold two incomes, to reduce the total number of children, and to increase their quality of life over time. All these options reduce instances of poverty.

Contraception and Family Planning Reduces Population Stress

Worldwide, there are now over 7 billion people. According to almost every scientist who studies Earth carrying capacity, this number is higher than what is sustainable. Over the next 20-50 years, the hope for maintaining a livable world rests, in large part, on civilization’s ability to restrain population. This restraint involves reducing the birth rate to bring population back into balance with resources. Most systems researchers show a sustainable civilization is one in the range of 2-4 billion individuals. There is absolutely no chance to reach this number without access to contraception and family planning services.

Though these numbers and notions may seem academic, they have absolute impacts. There are limits to the amount of arable land, materials, fossil fuels, food, fish, and pollution sinks in the world. High population rapidly depletes all of these resources. And since Earth is the only planet we know able to support human life, once these resources are depleted or destroyed, they are gone for good.

So population restraint is about poverty, death, and war restraint. It is about preventing famine. It is about giving the world time to transition to renewable energy. It is about reducing the impact of climate change. It is about increasing access to material resources and opportunities for each individual.

Equality Multiplies the Power of Civilization

Imagine what would have happened to England had Elizabeth never been queen…

Women are intelligent, clever, compassionate, kind, able to navigate social difficulty, able to compromise, and enable systems of cooperation and personal development. They possess unique qualities that provide powerful and intangible benefits to the civilizations that elevate them. Art, knowledge, science, all multiply in societies in which women are sexually liberated. But societies that sexually repress women tend to be more narrow, war-like, and poor.

At risk in the current war on women is the dream of a vital and civil society. Those currently leading the assault on women, the contraception and family planning denying, the slut shaming, the bitch calling, and all the other nastiness, are an existential threat to the true system of liberty and equality that has flowered throughout the development of our nation.

Some have said ‘the American experiment is over.’ And it is those same cynical, narrow souls that are fighting a broad war to end the greatest experiment in liberty and equal opportunity the world has ever known. We should be all be shamed that we have allowed this cancer to grow on our soil. We should be terrified that we have let it mar our beloved. The fair ladies who have helped us so much and have elevated America to such a position of greatness.

The moment we let these freedoms die is the moment we have allowed them to cut out the very heart of America. The very heart of us. Will we allow them? Will we let them continue to advance this darker America? A place of struggle that only creates opportunity for an increasingly narrow and mean-spirited elite? A place where the fairest among us are once again only consigned to the shadows?

 

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