On February 16, 2012 thousands of women across this country were faced with an image that became the straw to break the camel’s back. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing on the contraceptive coverage rule called an all-male panel with no women representatives, prompting some women members of Congress to walk out of the hearing in protest. This was just another slap in the face to the women of America in a long list of political and legislative attacks against women in this country that have been increasingly becoming more common place.
That’s right; a report released by Guttmacher has found that 2011 held a record level of enacted (and attempted) legislation containing restrictions on reproductive health care.
Elizabeth Nash at RH Reality Check reports:
In the 50 states combined, legislators introduced more than 1,100 reproductive health and rights-related provisions, a sharp increase from the 950 introduced in 2010. By year’s end, 135 of these provisions had been enacted in 36 states, an increase from the 89 enacted in 2010 and the 77 enacted in 2009. So far in 2012 there have been over 600 proposed pieces of legislation in state legislatures across this country attacking women’s rights.
People often think these legislative attacks are only focused on abortion, however when you delve further into the specifics of these pieces of legislation it show it is much more. These legislative attacks include eroding Equal Pay Acts or defeating Equal Pay all together. In what universe is it acceptable to say that women with the same qualifications and experience for a job do not deserve the same pay? Perhaps the sentiments expressed by Wisconsin state Sen. Glenn Grothman (R) can shed some light on the thought process of these elected officials who think that women are expendable –
“You could argue that money is more important for men. I think a guy in their first job, maybe because they expect to be a breadwinner someday, may be a little more money-conscious. To attribute everything to a so-called bias in the workplace is just not true.”
The facts show the truth though because in in two-thirds of American families, women are either primary or co-breadwinners, and yet they still earn less than their male counterparts in all 50 states. (thinkprogress.org)
Just this week Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal, vetoed Senate Bill 577 which would have created an Equal Pay Task Force, at a modest cost, to determine why Louisiana’s pay disparity for women is 67% of what their male counterparts make. His argument was the state could not afford the cost of the Task Force but the issue here is that he has no problem providing funds to corporate welfare programs and providing lucrative deals to political contributors and political consultants. Louisiana State Senator Karen Carter-Peterson’s has vowed not to give up this fight and UniteWomen.org – Louisiana will join with other like-minded groups to demand Equal Pay for women in Louisiana.
Another popular legislative attack against women in this country has become the issue of contraceptive coverage and access. Even though the facts show that an overwhelming majority of Americans believe in contraceptive access, 89% Of US Adults And 82% Of Catholic Adults Think Birth Control Is “Morally Acceptable.” According to a May 2012 Gallup Poll, “almost 89 percent of U.S. adults — and 82 percent of Catholic adults — say birth control is morally acceptable.” [UPI, 5/23/12] How do you feel about applying for a job at the local burger joint and the manager there being able to ask you if you are on birth control? If that isn’t a violation of your privacy then how about that manager also being able to refuse you a job if they have a personal religious objection to the use of birth control? Does that seem to be enough absurdity for you? According to the ACLU this is just what Arizona legislators purposed,
“And we aren’t talking here just about exemptions for religiously affiliated employers like Catholic hospitals and universities. We are talking about authorizing secular, for-profit employers to deny a woman coverage for birth control if the employer doesn’t believe that she and her partner should be allowed to have sex without getting pregnant. The bill they are pushing would not only allow employers to take the insurance coverage away, but it would also make it easier for an employer who finds out that his employee uses birth control to fire her. You heard me right . . . to fire her.”
The Huffington Post recently took on this controversial Arizona bill as well in March 2012 –
“House Bill 2625, which the state House of Representatives passed earlier this month and the Senate Judiciary Committee endorsed…, repeals that law and allows any employer to refuse to cover contraception that will be used “for contraceptive, abortifacient, abortion or sterilization purposes.” If a woman wants the cost of her contraception covered, she has to “submit a claim” to her employer providing evidence of a medical condition, such as endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome, that can be treated with birth control.”
What is even worse is that some insurance companies, in which women PAY their premiums for, refuse coverage of birth control but allow coverage of Viagra and other ED medications. Does that sound like gender discrimination to you, because it sure does to me. Despite bipartisan sponsorship, the Equity in Prescription Insurance and Contraceptive Coverage Act (“EPICC”: S.1214/H.R.4651) has languished in Congress since 1997. As a result, only twenty-four of our fifty states require insurers to cover prescription birth control if they cover other prescription drugs. (Petition sponsored by NARAL on petitionsite.org)
You see what is happening in this great country of ours is that a systemic virus has infected not only the U.S. Senate and U.S. House but each and every State Legislature across this country. A select group of politicians, political groups, and religious groups have decided that the women in this country should not have equal representation in pieces of legislation. They see no need to protect the rights of women and are hell bent on putting us all in a time machine and taking us back to the 19th or 18th century.
This War on Women does not seem to be stopping or slowing down either. On June 12 and June 14, 2012 Michigan women and the men who supported them held a protest rally in front of their state capitol to fight back one more time against another legislative attack on women. According to the Detroit Free Press,
“ Republicans in the Michigan Legislature have fast tracked House Bills 5711, 5712 and 5713, which would drastically limit access to abortion, as well as close down all abortion clinics in Michigan. This unprecedented legislative attack on women’s reproductive health seeks to dismantle Roe v. Wade while excluding an exemption for rape, incest, fetal anomaly or a woman’s health.”
Here’s the thing when it comes to abortion. In the United States of America abortion is legal – period. It doesn’t matter what your personal or religious beliefs are because abortion is legal. I will say it once again – abortion is legal in America. The fact that elected state officials in this country continue these legislative attacks on abortion is no coincidence. There is a plan in place here people. They are chipping away bit by bit at Roe v. Wade on the state level because they know they cannot do it on the Federal level.
Those who think that a woman should have to go through unnecessary invasive medical procedures, like trans-vaginal ultrasounds, to have a legal medical procedure done are only perpetuating the legislative attacks on women. Women do not make the decision to have an abortion lightly. It is a painful and difficult decision to be made, and ANYONE who is not the woman or her physician thinking they have a say in what she does with her body needs to check themselves because you don’t.
The women in this country are waking up to all of these legislative attacks against us. You say we shouldn’t talk about them and bring them up because there are more important issues our country is facing like the economy, jobs, education, and wars. Well guess what, we agree in part with you. We agree that the economy, jobs, education, and wars should be the focus of legislators around the country and in Washington but the sad truth is that the majority of these elected officials attacking women have no plans to solve those problems so their solution is to pander to a select group of individuals who think women do not deserve the same protections under the law and do not deserve to be the masters of their own bodies.
It is time for the rest of this sleeping giant to be awakened from its slumber. It is time for the women of this country to come together and once again take to the streets, the state capitols, and the legislatures of this country and say ENOUGH is ENOUGH! We will not go back in time! We will not be the silent majority any longer! We will NOT allow these legislative attacks against us continue!
1221 Bowers Street #2225
Birmingham, Michigan 48012-2225