Under the guise of “protecting religious freedom,” state legislative bodies and Congressional Republican Conservatives have launched a comprehensive and merciless war on women’s health. For example, last October, House Republicans led by their radical Tea Party component, passed the “Protect Life Act”, known by women’s health advocates as the “Let Women Die” bill. This bill allows hospitals that receive federal funds to refuse any woman in need of an abortion procedure even if it is necessary to save her life. Federal law already prohibits federal funding of abortions but Conservative Republicans insist that the health care law “contains a loophole that allows those receiving federal subsidies to use the money to enroll in health care plans that allow abortion services.” However, there is language in the law that says subsidies from the government can’t be used to pay for abortion services, except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the life of the mother. It’s true that many women who now lack insurance might obtain private policies that cover wider abortion services as a result of the new legislation and with the help of federal subsidies. But insurance companies must keep any subsidy money they receive segregated from premium payments made by private individuals, and must use only private money to pay for abortion coverage. This Bill has been held up in the Senate.
Although defeated by voters last November, Mississippi lawmakers attempted to pass a “personhood” amendment to its constitution that defines a person as “every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the functional equivalent thereof.” Not only would this proposed amendment ban all abortions, it could potentially outlaw birth control, stem cell research, and in-vitro fertilization for couples trying to conceive. Even though Mississippi voters rejected this amendment, personhood activists are enthusiastically moving forward with versions for other states. Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is in favor of a national personhood amendment. Imagine his actions if elected President.
Several Republican-led states have proposed bills that force doctors to show a woman seeking abortion services an ultrasound of the fetus, and in some cases, describe the image to her. The Kentucky bill, for instance, requires doctors to describe the image if the woman chose to turn away her eyes or face a $250,000 fine for disobeying the law. The purpose of these bills is to discourage women from undergoing any abortion procedure, and in Michigan’s case, provide a “gift to the medical device industry” by forcing doctors to use “the most advanced ultrasound equipment available” to get the most “distinct image” of the fetus possible. Fortunately, North Carolina Democratic Governor Bev Perdue vetoed her state’s version of the bill, viewing it as “a dangerous intrusion into the confidential relationship that exists between women and their doctors.” However, the Republican controlled Commonwealth of Virginia is on the verge of passing into law a bill that requires every woman seeking an abortion to undergo a completely unnecessary and invasive trans-vaginal ultrasound medical procedure whether she wants to or not. This means that the Republican Virginia legislators will require every woman seeking an abortion to undergo an evasive “trans-vaginal” ultrasound medical procedure and she has no say so in the matter. Governor Bob McDonnell said that he would sign this bill into law once it reached his desk. The Obama administration recently announced a significant expansion of the FBI’s definition of rape, which will now cover several forms of sexual assault. It could be that non-consensual, trans-vaginal penetration of an ultrasound device may meet the definition of “rape” under this expanded definition.
A most recent and covert attack on women’s rights occurred a couple of weeks ago when Republican Committee Chairman Darrel Issa decided to hold a hearing that was supposed to be about religious freedom. Issa said the hearing was meant to be more broadly about religious freedom and not specifically about the contraception mandate in the Health Reform law. Although the hearing was “not specifically about contraception,” only men who were supporters of Issa’s position were invited to testify. Even though this “sham” hearing was about women, the one woman the Democrat minority asked to testify, Sandra Fluke, was rejected by Issa as “not qualified to testify” because she was not a member of the clergy but a third-year Georgetown Law Center student. Fluke would have talked about a classmate who lost an ovary because of a syndrome that causes ovarian cysts.
The Issa cause gained momentum when the Obama Administration proposed a rule to require Catholic organizations to offer contraception services in their employee health plans. Republicans claimed that the regulation infringed on the religious rights of Catholics and violated the Freedom of Religion provision of the Constitution. Because of the concerns raised by Catholic Bishops, President Obama tweaked the rule so that in cases where non-profit religious organizations have objections, insurance companies would be required to offer the coverage directly. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called it “a first step in the right direction.” “Under the rule, women will still have access to free preventive care that includes contraceptive service no matter where they work,” Obama said. Of course, Conservative Republicans including the presidential candidates are still criticizing the President in spite of the change.
Right-wing Conservative Republican Congressional and state legislatures are doing all they can to set this country back at least 60 years by denying Constitutional rights to women and minorities. In addition to radical state voter suppression laws, this right-wing radical group is launching blatant attacks on the health of women by allowing government to interfere in their health care decisions. In a coordinated and orchestrated way, they are attempting to use any tool available to prevent women from using contraception devices but are not objecting to men having vasectomies or even purchasing Viagra. If you are a Republican, Democrat or Independent, if Romney, Santorum or Gingrich is elected President of the United States or this right-wing radical so called “Christian” group controls the Senate and House, the health rights of all women will be seriously compromised or even eliminated. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, it is estimated that right-wing Republican Conservatives will infuse over 1 Billion Dollars in the 2012 election to ensure Republican victories. We have already seen the extreme radical legislation of Republican state legislative bodies regarding women’s rights, what would be the impact if this radicalism escalated to the federal government level? I believe the results would be devastating not only to women but all Americans. The 2012 Presidential election is not about Party but about Choice.
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