As a baby boomer, I am consumed with feelings of violation and disbelief as I listen to the voices blithely planning to take away women's rights. After the pill became widely available and abortion became legal, this issue was settled -- women have equal protection and are free to make their own reproductive choices without the government legislating those rights. Women burned bras, marched and fought hard for the right to decide their own fate, for the right to control their own bodies. And now, a group of religious fanatics who control the Republican party want to reduce women to vessels, to walking incubators. They claim the mantle of "pro-life" and speak of the fetus as an entity with rights under the 14th Amendment. Imagine a fetus granted more rights than the living, breathing member of society who is its host! That is the world they are steering us towards if we do not start applying the brakes now.
One of the first things I propose in stopping this oncoming wreck is recognizing that we are all pro-life. Those who support reproductive rights are also pro-woman. We believe that the life of the woman is always first. A woman has the right to determine if she can and will bring a new life into this world. It is interesting to note that those who say they are "pro-life" are the same people who promote cutting nutrition programs, health care for children, food assistance progams, and early childhood education programs. The "pro-life" community appears to be interested only in the fetus. Once born, the concern for it diminishes.
This year's Republican platform bans abortion. Period. No exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother. Of course it also promotes strong support for guns, stridently calling for liberty and for the right to carry them. Hmmm, rights for guns. Liberty to provide protection and to prevent becoming a victim. But the liberty and rights of a woman to manage her own body? Not so much. Legislators know best, after all. Below are sections from the Republican platform to illustrate this point:
"Through Obamacare, the current Administration has promoted the notion of abortion as healthcare. We, however, affirm the dignity of women by protecting the sanctity of human life. Numerous studies have shown that abortion endangers the health and well-being of women, and we stand firmly against it."
There is even a section that commends states who have enacted legislation mandating invasive, costly medical procedures, excessive waiting periods, and scripted false information that must be provided prior to a woman having an abortion.
"We also salute the many States that have passed laws for informed consent, mandatory waiting periods prior to an abortion, and health-protective clinic regulation."
This platform contains a call for a Personhood Amendment which would outlaw abortion altogether.
"Faithful to the “self-evident” truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children."
Although Roe v. Wade is established law, this platform would undermine it by altering the Constitution to eliminate rights of citizens, not ensure them. When Mitt Romney was asked about it, he spoke of the Supreme Court deciding this issue. Guess he forgot that the Court did decide in 1973. But hey, what does that matter?
For those of us who experienced the dark times of no legal abortions or birth control, who celebrated the freedom to choose when to begin a family, who saw the right to have an abortion no matter what the reason become the law of the land, we know. We know what awaits the women of today if these backward, restrictive, and unreasonable goals are acheived, if this path is allowed to go forward.
We understand the fate that awaits young women who may not be able to obtain a safe, legal abortion, or even find access to birth contol. We well-remember the furtive trips to doctors - or anyone - who would perform the necessary procedure. We lived the hopelessness, the fear, the dread. Then, like a beacon in the darkness, there was light. There was real freedom for women and for the men who love them.
When speaking about his mother, Romney said, "Why should women have any less say than men about the great decisions facing our county?" His mother was a pro-Choice woman who would likely not agree with any of the Republican platform. Indeed, how can he think that anyone would think that a party who dares to force a woman to undergo invasive, expensive, and painful procedures, a party that forces a woman to carry a child to term under all circumstances, a party that believes a woman has no stake in her own body and destiny - how can he think anyone would consider such a party a pro-woman party?
Our message must be heard. We must reach out to everyone who cares about liberty and the rights of the living. We must support and actively work for President Obama and candidates who are the voices of the many, not the few, who support the rights of women, who are the voices of women in the halls of government. We must recognize that our rights can be taken away with the pull of a lever. It is time to stand up and send our message loud and clear - We are women and we will vote for those who have our backs.
Together our voices can be heard over the rhetoric and the lies. Join JAC today to support the candidates who support us. Donate to critical races and make sure our rights remain our rights.
Now is the time to be heard, now is the time to vote.