I’m wondering what you think about all of the issues regarding women that are being brought into the political arena. Some of the issues are obvious, like women’s reproductive health or access to preventative health care, like Pap Smears, mammograms, STD and HIV testing (I know, no one likes to admit their husband or partner is sexually involved with others, but it’s a reality for many). Other issues, like access to higher education, gender equality, and pervasive dismissive and denigrating attitudes toward women by the Rush Limbaugh-types, continue to be thorns in our sides.
There are two agendas where women are being caught in the cross-fire: the abortion agenda and the church agenda, especially the fundamentalist and Roman Catholic churches. Women have been excluded from the power sources in both agendas, and yet they are the ones most impacted by these two agendas. We can all surmise why the power sources want to exclude women from the discussion. The real question is: What are women going to do about it?
The abortion political agenda has an interesting caveat: refuse funding to any and all organizations where women receive preventative and family planning services. Planned Parenthood is being particularly targeted (and has been for decades), although other organizations who receive state and federal funding for women’s reproductive health, even those clinics who do not provide abortion services, are also affected. Planned Parenthood has been around for 95 years and offers affordable general health care services, and yes, reproductive services, to women AND men! Where are the sane and informed voices of those who know what the consequences will be with no family planning and general health screenings available for most women?
There are some lawmakers who have introduced legislation to show the double standard and absurdity of some of the intrusive reproductive proposals before Congress. Here’s what one blog I follow reported:
Delaware: By an 8 to 4 vote, the Wilmington, Delaware, city council recognized the personhood of semen because “each ‘egg person’ and each ‘sperm person’ should be deemed equal in the eyes of the government.”
Virginia: As the state Senate debated requiring transvaginal ultrasounds for women seeking abortions, Sen. Janet Howell proposed mandating rectal exams and cardiac stress tests for men seeking erectile dysfunction meds. Her amendment failed by just two votes.
Georgia: Responding to a Georgia house bill banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, Rep. Yasmin Neal wrote a bill outlawing most vasectomies because they leave “thousands of children…deprived of birth.”
Ohio: A bill introduced by state Sen. Nina Turner would compel men to get psychological screenings before getting prescriptions for impotence meds. “We must advocate for the traditional family,” Turner said, “and ensure that all men using PDE-5 inhibitors are healthy, stable, and educated about their options—including celibacy as a viable life choice.”
Illinois: State Rep. Kelly Cassidy proposed requiring men seeking Viagra to watch a video showing the treatment for persistent erections, an occasional side effect of the little blue pill. As she explained, “It’s not a pretty procedure to watch.”
Missouri: Protesting the legislature’s vote to reject Obama’s contraception coverage mandate, nine female lawmakers cosponsored a bill restricting access to vasectomiesexcept for men risking death or serious bodily harm. “In determining whether a vasectomy is necessary,” the bill reads, “no regard shall be made to the desire of a man to father children, his economic situation, his age, the number of children he is currently responsible for, or any danger to his wife or partner in the event a child is conceived.”
Oklahoma: When a zygote-personhood bill came before the state Senate, Sen. Constance Johnson penned an amendment declaring that ejaculating anywhere outside a woman’s vagina constitutes “an action against an unborn child.” Bonus: Johnson also suggested that any man who impregnates a woman without her permission should pay a $25,000 fine, support the child until age 21, and get a vasectomy, “in the spirit of shared responsibility.” In response to the same bill, state Sen. Jim Wilson proposed an amendment requiring the father of an unborn child to be financially responsible for its mother’s health care, housing, transportation, and nourishment during pregnancy.
Texas: Contesting a bill mandating sonograms before abortions, Rep. Harold Dutton unsuccessfully offered three amendments in a row. The first would have required the state to pay the college tuition of children born to women who decide against an abortion after seeing a required ultrasound image. The second would have subsidized the children’s health care costs until age 18. When that failed, he lowered the age to 6. That didn’t fly, either.
In order to be considerate to the delicate sensitivities of any male readers still reading, we’ll stop there for today!
Photo credit: Gerry Balding