Wednesday, February 15, 2012

More on women's rights, and why I'm angry

I read this article earlier today about a law in Virginia (as yet unsigned by the governor, but that same governor has promised to sign it) that would mandate a non-medically necessary probe of a woman's vagina when she seeks an abortion. The absurd-but-in-no-way-funny part is that the people who signed this into law are the ones most likely to claim that they have "morality" on their side. After all, they're defending the Rights of the Unborn! Protectors of Children and all that is Godly! But the truth is, they're mandating the rape of a woman by medical instrument. They're going to force good and honest doctors who want to help their patients to go against the Hippocratic oath. You can't even treat your dog this bad. And yet, somehow, in the minds of these people it's perfectly fine and even justified to treat women this way.
And that gets to the heart of the matter for me. There are people who are actually trying to treat women as less than human. They're trying to undercut, undermine, and just plain roll back basic protections and human rights for women under the guise of "morality" and "family values". Does the family no longer include the woman? I'm confused. Perhaps this is their sneaky way of saying that gay couples are actually better?
Are these really the types of values we want our children growing up with? Because it kind of sounds more like the Taliban is trying to take over the U.S. government. I don't know about you, but I want all the children near and dear to me to grow up with "moral" figures who actually are moral, who walk and talk and preach exactly the values they truly believe in. (As in, if you're going to claim to be Christian then you need to actually do the things Jesus said to do: love others as much as you love yourself, be kind to the poor and care for the needy....) Maybe I was under the mistaken impression that "morality" is about more than just "what I believe is always right so any measures I take to force my views on you are also right". But that's what a lot of our political (especially on the conservative end) discussion has devolved into. It doesn't have anything to do with morality, but claiming that your beliefs are more moral does seem to work for some people.
This really is a war on women's rights. Topeka, Kansas, said for a while that it would not prosecute domestic violence because it, apparently, wasn't in their budget. (I'm betting that prosecuting minor drug crimes was in their budget, but not basic protections against abusers.) After much outcry, they reversed the proposal (warning, that article has a stupidly loud ad that you can't get rid of), but not until after some women had been turned away. Considering that most domestic violence is never reported, those women represent just a small number of the abusers in that city. The bravery they showed in stepping forward, in trying to escape their situations, will never be heralded. But it is a brave act. I hope they got the needed help, and that their abusers are appropriately punished.
I get so mad at the rhetoric saying we're the "greatest country on Earth". Actually being the greatest country would require more than saying that we are. It would take work and effort that our politicians seem unwilling to understand or to put in. Because, you know, no one gets into politics to actually work and solve problems, right? You get into politics because it's prestigious and there's lots of money to be made. And as long as you can keep telling everyone that we're the greatest nation on Earth, they'll eat it up and reelect you whether or not it's true, and despite the fact that you've done nothing to make it the truth. And never mind the fact that you're trying to treat women worse than some third world countries do, and to violate international human rights. You have Morality!
If it was one isolated incident or just one state government that was trying to limit women's rights, that in itself would be worrying but minor enough that I could merely shake my head and bemoan people's stupidity. The fact that there are at least five different states that are attacking women's rights on multiple fronts, as well as the federal government, and all of the Republican candidates, and religious institutions. (Just check how many different links are in that sentence. It's staggering what roughly two minutes of internet searching will turn up.) And now it's not even just abortion, it's contraception too. (I should point out here that it's not all Republicans who are stupid when it comes to women's rights.) In a country where almost everyone uses, has used, or will use contraception at some point in their lives (including 98% of Catholic women) it's an absurd thing for a major political figure to try to stir up controversy about. It's downright baffling in its stupidity. And it's dangerous. Contraception is one of the biggest innovations in the field of women's health in all of history. The fact that women can limit their pregnancies, can avoid unwanted pregnancies if they have a known condition for which preganancy is potentially life-threatening, and can space out their pregnancies alone are good reasons to keep it. The fact that women and even children are healthier because of access to contraception doesn't seem to have any bearing on the political discourse, however.
Beyond the health issues, anyone interested in actually helping or preventing more children being born into poverty should be interested in providing free birth control. It's not only good for the parents to not have so many children, but it's good for the children too since most children born into poverty will never escape it. However, I often find that it's the people who are most rabidly against government supports, "big government" and abortion who are the ones most prone to making statements about how "poor people should all be sterilized". Apparently the exception to that is if someone comes up with a policy which is effective at preventing pregnancy. Do they realize that they're being inconsistent? (Probably not.)
Anyone who thinks that they want to limit or ban abortions because of women's health is deluding themselves. In places where abortion is outlawed, you get situations where women throw themselves down stairs, or use coat hangers. You also get situations where abortion by violence becomes the norm for getting out of an unwanted pregnancy, such as in England in the middle ages. (Please also note that the modern Catholic sentiment that "all abortion is Evil" doesn't fit with their historical mantra. It used to be believed that a child didn't develop a soul until the "quickening", or the first discernible fetal movement. Any attempt to limit or get rid of a fetus before that time was totally legit in the eyes of the church. Why the turnaround?)
I demand to be treated with the same rights and privileges that any human being should be endowed with. I'm saying right here and right now that I have more rights than a fetus. I have the right to make decisions for myself about what is best for my body, myself, and my family. I will not be treated like a second class citizen because I'm endowed with a vagina. I refuse to be treated like an animal in matters of reproductivity, or to let someone else dictate my choices. I refuse to let myself be treated like I'm incapable of making "the right" choices. I'm an intelligent, rational person and it's time my government started treating me like one.

1 comment:

  1. "However, I often find that it's the people who are most rabidly against government supports, "big government" and abortion who are the ones most prone to making statements about how "poor people should all be sterilized"."

    Yes, I hear this most often from these types too and it drives me insane. The contradicition they purport is what makes their argument "suspect" in the first place. I do believe it is about control and treating females as second class citizens and not about life or health or even the fetuses they worship. I mean, most of us know that these folks do not care about the life of a woman or the child post pregnancy (and I support my statement by saying if this was untrue why would they have issue with gov assistance, school funding, better food and access to said food...etc!) It seems we are living in the middle ages again.

    Your commentary on this important topic is well said and thanks for saying it!