2000 years after Brutus killed Caesar, we spend our Ides of March contemplating betrayal. Many Republicans believe that this betrayal is about religion. A simple Google search will show the multitude of quotes by Conservatives–especially Fox News anchors–concerning the “War on Religion.” According to them, Christians are being punished for their beliefs because of the ongoing debates on contraception (Obama wants contraception services to be provided by all health care plans) and on having prayer in schools. Not only do I think their argument is unfounded, but it fails to recognize an even greater problem. In reality, the group getting stabbed in the back is women.
This problem is definitely not a new one. We all know about how women are still suffering oppression, are not receiving equal pay, and so on. However, this year we are facing a backlash against rights we’ve benefited from for decades. Roe v. Wade ensured that we have access to abortions. Now, lawmakers are attempting to make it more difficult to access this right:
- There have been several proposed bills that add more restrictions to abortions. In Georgia, State Representative Terry England is pushing for “HB 954, which makes it illegal to obtain an abortion after 20 weeks even if the woman is known to be carrying a stillborn fetus or the baby is otherwise not expected to live to term”. If that’s not enough, he compared women to farm animals.
- Planned Parenthood is still being attacked by Conservatives. Mitt Romney suggested that he would defund the group if he were elected. It’s unfortunate that even after countless personal testimonies about how helpful Planned Parenthood can be, people still don’t seem to think it’s worth keeping.
- In Wisconsin, three bills are soon to be made into law: “AB 337/SB 237 opens the door to abstinence-only sex education in public schools, AB 154/SB 92 makes private insurance coverage of abortion illegal, and AB 371/SB 306 restricts abortion by telemedicine, and so doing, makes it fundamentally more difficult for rural women to seek an abortion.” Besides the added restrictions on abortions, I’m appalled at the abstinence-only sex education. I can’t stress enough how much more effective comprehensive sex education is in comparison. It’s not only unrealistic to assume that keeping information from teenagers will prevent them from having sex, but it exposes them to more risks that legislators like to forget about.
- Although birth control has been proven to have health benefits, the stigma against it has been increasing. “Arizona House Bill 2625…would permit employers to ask their employees for proof of medical prescription if they seek contraceptives for non-reproductive purposes, such as hormone control or acne treatment”. If that’s not enough, Rush Limbaugh had to call Sandra Fluke, a law student at Georgetown, a “slut” because she testified before Congress in favor of contraception. He has already lost over 100 advertisers and the general response is negative. Jon Stewart brilliantly discussed the hypocrisy of the controversy (and if you haven’t seen any Daily Show episodes recently, I’d recommend tuning in–Tuesday’s episode highlighted the double standard of saying whatever you wanted in entertainment).
Despite all of these setbacks, the awareness is spreading. Women in Wisconsin are protesting the new changes while officials (such as Hillary Clinton) are pointing out the fallacies of the legislation. Unfortunately, we still have much to do to change the minds of politicians. We must let them know that we won’t stand for losing our reproductive rights, especially ones that help our health. One way to get involved is through EMILY’s List, a group that works to elect pro-choice Democratic women into office. It might seem radical to call this a “War on Women,” but radical is what we need now in order to prevent the government from taking away any more rights.