No one likes to talk about abortions. There is NO good side to come down on, no matter what your gender or your political affiliation. Abortion is always a time for sadness and a time for tears. It is a terrible decision to have to make and it rips women deeply through the heart and the soul to make such a decision. And so, we tend to avoid the subject in polite conversation unless we’re certain everyone in the group agrees with your point of view. Questions about abortion and the morality of abortion abound. “When does life begin?”, “when does the soul enter the body?”, “when is a fetus viable?”, “how do you define viability?”, “what about rape/incest?”, “what about the health of the mother?”, “what is the moral thing to do if a fetus is physically or mentally impaired?”, “what if a pregnant woman is too immature or financially unable to raise a child?”. LOTS of questions and NO clear definitive answers.
But there is one group that can’t wait to jump into a discussion about abortion, and that is the people on the religious right and right-wing conservative groups that see the issue as a political weapon. They like to pull it out of its sheath every four years or so and watch the carnage that is left in the wake of those discussions. Recently, abortion foes have once again come out swinging…wildly and ferociously…with focused attacks at the state level.
Working with ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), state legislatures have come up with a HUGE number of similarly worded laws that attack the abortion issue and, simultaneously, the rights of women to control their own reproductive organs. Laws that have flooded the halls of various state legislatures include:
1. Ultrasound provisions – laws that include invasive trans-vaginal ultrasound requirements that are designed to force pregnant women to look at the zygote/embryo/fetus and to hear it’s heartbeat (if there is one).
2. Counseling requirements – forcing a pregnant woman to sit and listen to a biased counselor trying to talk her out of having the procedure, even after the woman has agonized over the question and usually talked about it in-depth with family, friends, and their partner.
3. Restrictions on abortion providers – laws what force any doctor’s office or family planning clinic to meet stringent and over-the-top requirements for facilities and structural design, bathrooms, safety requirements, emergency equipment, and other regulations targeted specifically to affect ONLY abortion providers.
4. Personhood laws – attempts to declare a fertilized egg, a person under the law, thereby making any abortion a murder. The consequences of these types of laws affect pregnant women, abortion providers, and establish severe legal consequences for spontaneous abortions and miscarriages, accidental injuries to a fetus, and many other aspects of society.
5. Fetal pain and “heartbeat” laws – laws that attempt to set ridiculous restrictions on abortions through the use of emotional contrivances.
Laws like these have become rampant in various state legislatures and they have been written, financed, and pushed by right-wing organizations such as ALEC and they are getting out of hand. There was even a bill proposed in South Dakota that would have legalized the murder of a doctor who performed an abortion, calling it “justified homicide”. Other Republican initiatives are going after issues like pre-natal health screenings, attacking the Girl Scouts, and even forcing rape victims to pay for their own rape kits. Recently these attacks have broadened into attempts to restrict access to contraception and vicious and harsh assaults against organizations like Planned Parenthood and other non-profit groups that are organized to provide health and reproductive assistance to low-income and indigent women.
We thought these issues were decided years ago in the Roe v. Wade decision by the United States Supreme Court that codified abortion as a legal procedure. We thought these issues were settled years ago with the invention of oral contraceptives that allowed women to control their reproductive processes, avoiding the need to resort to abortion. We thought America had recognized the rights of a woman to control her own uterus. Apparently we were wrong.
But, all of this full-out assault on women’s reproductive rights has had an unforseen outcome. Women are waking up. Women are protesting, Women are organizing. And Women are demanding, once again, that their rights be protected. Women are demanding that the clock NOT be rolled back to the 1950’s when women were relegated to the home and the kitchen by their lack of control over conception. Women are the sleeping tigers….and they are suddenly waking up…with a passion.
Social media like Facebook have seen huge numbers of sites spring up in the past week, seeking women (and men) who are looking for an opportunity to join hands and fight back. These people are ANGRY. These people are DETERMINED. These people feel a strong sense of righteous indignation about what is happening. Some of these people remember the time when women were second class citizens and they were expected to stay at home, tend to the children, and serve their husbands. Women and men who support women all over this nation are starting to stand up to the anti-woman movement and organizing themselves to make sure Congress and the religious right hear their voices. There is now a call to march: National March Against The War On Women. This march will take place April 28, 2012 in every state capital.
I will be marching in our local event in Montgomery, AL and I feel certain I will be in the company of many proud, strong, and intelligent women AND men as I do. I encourage anyone reading this to join the group in YOUR state capitol.
Women have come a long way since I was born way back in 1949. They’ve become viable members of our societies and our communities. They have taken their rightful place in business and commerce. They have become serious players in local, state, and our national government. They are no longer second class citizens, and I’ll be DAMNED if I will allow the clock to be turned back to 1950. I’m standing with the women…alongside them and locked arm-in-arm with them. I’m doing this for my wife, my daughters, my granddaughters, my sisters, my nieces and all the women and girls I love. I’m also doing this for my country, which I love, because without women with full and equal opportunity, we are half the country we should be.