Opinion

I survived the war on women | Johnson

It’s Women’s History Month, and I am celebrating having survived recent history, particularly the 2012 U.S. War on Women.

Phew! Perhaps you’ve forgotten, since the erosion of women’s rights has been subtle, and the ignorance spouted by politicians and public personalities was literally unbelievable at times. So let’s review.

Last January, the debate over free and mandatory birth control coverage by insurance companies escalated. While it makes sense that people who want less termination of pregnancies would be the same people who embrace free birth control access for more women, it isn’t always so.

Moving on to February, remember the Susan G. Komen battle against Planned Parenthood? Komen temporarily removed funding for breast cancer screenings by Planned Parenthood, then did an about face, due to pressure and huge public support for Planned Parenthood. This battle inadvertently provided Planned Parenthood with a national forum to clarify its services.

“More than 96 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services in Washington are related to prevention — including contraception, life-saving cancer screenings, testing for HIV, treatment for STIs, and family planning services,” Cara Bilodeau, South King County field organizer for Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, reminds us.

After the Komen debacle, a congressional hearing that included an all-male panel of “experts” addressed birth control for women.

Many of us wondered what decade we’d wandered back into, especially after Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke was denied access to the hearing, and good ol’ boy Foster Friess reminded us that Bayer aspirin between our knees was a low-cost contraceptive option.

Rush Limbaugh joined the conversation in March, calling Ms. Fluke a “slut,” and saying, “If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it, and I’ll tell you what it is: We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”

Hmm, so watching people have sex on the Internet is somehow more righteous than consensual adults choosing to have sex and using protection to avoid an unwanted pregnancy?

Mr. Limbaugh later apologized. Was that supposed to make it OK?

Also springing up last year: stricter laws in several states concerning abortion access, including some law that requires an ultrasound prior to terminating a pregnancy. Responding to protests over this requirement, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett remarked that women “just have to close your eyes” if they object to having an ultrasound, implying this procedure is trivial.

Then came Todd Akin’s now infamous comment that “legitimate rape” causes the female body to “shut that whole thing down” (referring to pregnancy) to justify his no-exceptions policy on termination of pregnancy, even in the case of rape or incest.

We’ll wrap up our 2012 review with Rep. Joe Walsh’s ignorance about ectopic pregnancy and other life-threatening conditions that require terminating a pregnancy to save a mother’s life. His belief that a mother’s life is never in danger from a pregnancy (“you can’t find one instance”) fueled his no-exceptions view on pregnancy termination.

I won’t even get into the whole “binders full of women” thing.

Fellow women, we made it through another year.

It was a year of reminding folks that women deserve to access basic health care without fear of violence, harassment, or intimidation — and that at Planned Parenthood health centers, the nurses, doctors and staff work tirelessly to ensure that women and families are able to access affordable, high-quality health care in a safe and caring environment.

It was a year of re-educating (mostly male) politicians about medicine, science, birth control, pregnancy, rape, separation of church and state, and more.

To paraphrase a song from a long ago fifth-grade musical, “Are we there yet? I don’t think so. We’ve got miles and miles more to go...”

 

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