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The Gross National Debt

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Make no mistake - there is a very real and present war gearing up against women in these United States. The unconstitutional South Dakota abortion bill was the first serious salvo lobbed at those who do not believe in the pro-life stance.

To wit, there is an excellent diary by Chincoteague up at Daily Kos:

The War on Women: Ladies, Start your Engines. I am going to repost it in its entirety after the fold - that's how important it is. I encourage you, however, to follow the link and browse the discussion threads as great additional information can be found there.

Before I get any drive-by "baby killer" posts or posts that explain to me what a bad person I am for being pro-choice, save yourself the trouble. I will never share your point-of-view. Unlike many pro-lifers, however, I also would never tell you that you had to share my point-of-view. If you dont' believe in abortion, so be it - don't have one. Raise your children to believe that they shouldn't have one, either. But this is key: I don't agree with you. I don't think it's murder and I don't believe life begins at conception. I won't ever make you have an abortion - stop trying to deny me the rights my beliefs dictate and the rights that I've had for 34 years.

Now. If you want to read the article, click the link and read on. It's well worth your time.

The War on Women: Ladies, Start your Engines

Over the last several months, I've read innumerable diaries reflecting personal tragedy of the effects of the war on women by religous fundamentalists, and the right in general.    

Along with most of you, I've cried, gotten angry and frustrated, and relived my own pains.  But now it's time to document how that war has been waged, and hopefully start the fight to regain what we've lost and and stand to lose.  Our daughters and granddaughters deserve it.  And not coincidentally, also our sons and grandsons.

Update: windsngr has a diary about abortion in MS where action is needed.

Here are the stories and headlines documenting the war.

The War on Plan B  The FDA ignored the advice of  its own panel through the intervention of  higher ups, and refused over the counter sales of Plan B.  Even though the panel recommended in 2003 that it be sold without a prescription, here we are in 2006 and it still has not been resolved.  The problem is that the religious right believes that a pregnancy has occurred when there is a fertized egg, yet  the AMA has said pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants in the uterus.  This pill, if taken within 24 hours of unprotected sex, has a 95% rate for preventing pregnancy, and if was widely available, would prevent the need for abortion.  For more information.  

South Dakota's law banning abortion, even in the case of rape and incest.

Four other states,  Ohio, Tennessee, Indiana and Georgia, have also introduced bills to eliminate all abortions except when the life of the mother is in danger.

In 1998, the American Pharmaceutical Association passed a resolution called the Conscience Clause, which states:

APhA recognizes the individual pharmacist's right to exercise conscientious refusal and supports the establishment of systems to ensure patient access to legally prescribed therapy without compromising the pharmacist's right of conscientious refusal.

The religious right are using that clause to deny not only RU486, and Plan B, which they consider abortifacients, but also birth control pills.  The religious right also claims that even assisting in finding another pharmacist is immoral and need not be followed.  The fight is being waged in a number of states, many having them having no protection for women by legally requiring assistance in finding a pharmacist wo will fill a prescription.

Missouri's proposed law absolving pharmacists who refuse to give out birth control, or abortifacients with no clause guaranteeing access for women.

Unintended Pregnancy Linked to State Funding Cuts

At a time when policymakers have made reducing unintended pregnancies a national priority, 33 states have made it more difficult or more expensive for poor women and teenagers to obtain contraceptives and related medical services, according to an analysis released yesterday by the nonpartisan Guttmacher Institute.(emphasis mine)

Here   is the number of women who need publicly funded services:

"Today, half of all women who are sexually active and fertile but do not want to get pregnant need publicly funded services to help them access birth control," said Rachel Benson Gold, director of policy analysis at The Alan Guttmacher Institute. "Yet in Congress and the states, we are facing a potential 'perfect storm' that could make it harder for these women to get contraceptives, counseling, and STD testing that help them plan their pregnancies and protect their health."(emphasis mine)

Access to Abortion Pared at State Level

Three states have passed bills requiring that women seeking an abortion be warned that the fetus will feel pain, despite inconclusive scientific data on the question. West Virginia and Florida approved legislation recognizing a pre-viable fetus, or embryo, as an independent victim of homicide. And in Missouri, Gov. Matt Blunt (R) has summoned lawmakers in to special session Sept. 6 to consider three antiabortion proposals.

If you live in Missouri, not only do you face having pharmacists refusing to give you birth control or abortifacients,

but the sole abortion providing facility in Springfield, Missouri has already been forced to close its doors--leaving women in that region 160 miles away from the nearest doctor who is willing to provide abortion care.

If you think the right, and the religious right, care about children after birth, care about women, and want to prevent the trials of unintended pregnancy, think again.  

There is a vaccine, proven almost 100% effective, that has been shown to prevent HPV, which is the cause of at least 70% of cervical cancers.  The ideal situation is to vaccinate young women before they become sexually active, but the Christian right is against it.  Why?  

In the US, for instance, religious groups are gearing up to oppose vaccination, despite a survey showing 80 per cent of parents favour vaccinating their daughters. "Abstinence is the best way to prevent HPV," says Bridget Maher of the Family Research Council, a leading Christian lobby group that has made much of the fact that, because it can spread by skin contact, condoms are not as effective against HPV as they are against other viruses such as HIV.

"Giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful, because they may see it as a licence to engage in premarital sex," Maher claims, though it is arguable how many young women have even heard of the virus.(emphasis mine)

Our own DarkSyde wrote an excellent diary on the vaccine and the religious right's fighting it.  

Budget Cutting of federal monies for enforcing child support.  This cut, in particular, shows that the right is all about punishing women who have children, and don't care if they hurt children in the process.  Along with the cuts for enforcing child support, there are cuts in Medicaid and welfare, which also predominently affects women and children.

Teens in the United States continue to suffer from the highest birth rate and one of the highest rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the industrialized world, according to the UN's Unicef.  Yet every year, more and more of our students are receiving abstinence only sex education.  Funding for abstinence only programs has grown  465% in the last five years, and has actually become more restricted in what can be taught.  Yet, a report by Henry Waxman found that students are being given `false, mis-leading, or distorted' information.  

Some examples:

  Many American youngsters participating in federally funded abstinence-only programs have been taught over the past three years that abortion can lead to sterility and suicide, that half the gay male teenagers in the United States have tested positive for the AIDS virus, and that touching a person's genitals "can result in pregnancy,"

More examples:

* A 43-day-old fetus is a "thinking person."

* HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, can be spread via sweat and tears.

* Condoms fail to prevent HIV transmission as often as 31 percent of the time in heterosexual intercourse.

While there is no conclusive evidence proving abstinence only programs don't work, there is evidence that combined programs (abstinence and sex education) do work.  And there are fewer of those combined programs, jeopardizing our youth.  Besides, who wants their children being taught lies and misconceptions?  

One aside: the Guttmacher Institute has, by far, the most comprehensive information on reproductive issues.  I strongly urge visiting the site and learning more, because there is much more.  

These articles prove, conclusively, that there is a war on women.  Not content just to make a safe abortion more difficult to get, the right is also making it harder for women to access birth control, either the pill or Plan B,  so they won't be put in the position of of an unintended pregnancy.   After these women are forced into having children they don't want, the right is making it harder for them to take care of them, through welfare and medical care cuts, and by not funding the enforcement of child support.  

If all that wasn't bad enough,  the right cares so little for women and their health, they'd rather see women and girls get HPV, which is the leading cause of cervical cancer, rather than cede an ideological point.  If all this isn't war, I don't know what is.  

This administration has installed two Supreme Court justices, Roberts and Alito, who, even if they do not overturn Roe, will pander to their base and allow restricting even more abortions.  That's why it's of paramount importance that we pay attention to who's representing us at the state level, because they are the ones enacting ever more restrictions, not to mention outright banning of abortion.  

What do we do?

First, we have to educate each and every woman we know as to what's going on.  Tell your friends, tell them to tell their friends.  I can't think of a single person who wouldn't be affected in some way by at least one of these attacks.  Pass this, and any other article, to your friends.  

Secondly, we have to make absolutely certain our legislators know that this war is unacceptable.  Start calling your state  represenatitives and get their views, and tell them yours.  Go further, and call your Senators and Representatives in Congress.  There are more women than men in this country, and yet we, and our interests, are not being represented.  Why?  Because we have not been proactive in making sure our interests are served.  And now, with this administration, we're seeing firsthand the price of complacency.  We owe it to our daughters and granddaughters to wage war back.  With money, with votes, and with helping ourselves.  

Thirdly, start supporting an organization that suits you.  NOW, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and Emily's List are some.  Find your local chapter, and support them with volunteering.  If you cannot donate financially or with volunteering, at least get on mailing lists so you know what's going on and you can make some more phone calls.  Pass that along to your friends.  

If you think it can't be done, just remember.  It was women, tired of drunks killing our families, who went out and changed this country's laws and thinking.  

Any other suggestions are more than welcome.  

Ladies, start your engines!

posted by RenaRF at 12:53 PM 7 comments links to this post


Blogger DaughterOfLiberty said...

I couldn't agree more! Every time someone throws a cop-out at me, I am quick to remind them of great women like Alice Paul and Rosa Parks who managed to change the system despite seemingly impossible odds. As a friend of mine often says, apathy is complicity.

BTW, great blog!

9:40 PM  
Blogger RenaRF said...

Thanks for stopping by and commenting - and I'm also thrilled to hear you reference Alice Paul, one of my all-time heroes.

9:45 PM  
Blogger CSC5502D said...

LOL, wow you would never try to force your views on me? You're doing it right NOW, along with all the rest of the "women should bear no repsonsibility for anything" movement. The difference is, if I "force my beliefs on you", a baby gets to LIVE. See the difference? If you get your way, the baby dies.

One way or the other, somebody gets the other's values "forced" on them. At least my way, the baby gets to live.

Hey, at least you can still rape the father for child support for eighteen years while bearing no responsibility to support yourself and/or the child, so you win both ways, right?

4:32 PM  
Blogger RenaRF said...

I don't believe it's a baby. Can't argue with me on that one. Therefore, your argument, predicated on the idea that "at least the baby gets to live" is wholly irrelevant to me.

I don't believe it's a baby.

Any snappy comebacks for that one? Here's a question - show me non-religious scientific evidence that a fetus, 90-days or fewer along, is a baby.

And just out of interest - you're male, aren't you? If so, you're not qualified to have the argument in the first place. Thanks for playing.

4:39 PM  
Blogger CSC5502D said...

If you don't kill the fetus, a baby will be born. Therefore, the baby gets to live. There's your answer.

By the way, the "males" aren't qualified to discuss the issue bit is crap. By that definition, no one who has never been in the military gets to protest the war or say anything about military spending. No one who isn't a teacher gets to decide education policy. No one who isn't a cop or a lawyer should get to vote on legislation. Etc. etc. etc.

Grow up already.

9:31 PM  
Blogger RenaRF said...

False argument, CSC (is that the company, by the way?). My "speaking out" about war without ever having served in the military myself does not entitle me to encumber or otherwise co-opt the physical rights of the soldiers who serve or have served. The argument is totally valid because if you can tell me or any other woman that she can't have an abortion, you essentially are telling me or any other woman what we can and cannot do with our bodies. There's a line where you rights end and mine begin and it exists at the physical space that my body occupies.

Moreover, I find it difficult to believe that you or anyone else, regarless of beliefs, would tell me that or any other woman that you so fully understand our individual lives and circumstances that you feel empowered and qualified to make that decision for us.

I notice also that you didn't address at all the fact that I don't believe a fetus is a baby. If I don't take traditional birth control (as opposed to Plan B), a baby will be born. Is Ortho-tri-cyclen, then, the same as abortion? What about Plan B? Where does the argument about what I am to be allowed to do WITH MY BODY end?

Finally, I'd like to know - are you opposed to all abortion? Abortions in the first trimester? Second? In the case of rape? Incest? If the mother's life will be imperiled through a normal pregnancy? Which of these do you support and which do you oppose?

10:29 PM  
Blogger RenaRF said...

And just so you know, abortion is not a decision I would ever make for myself under normal (non life-threatening) circumstances. But that's me. I have a great job and great family and the support would be there and it would all be good. But that's not true for the woman who lives across the street from me. Or maybe for the woman I'll run into at Starbuck's tomorrow, or the woman who mans the toll booth on my local highway or the woman who has the office next to mine at work. I'm not arrogant enough to think that I can make that choice for her. Why are you?

10:38 PM  

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