Friday, November 13, 2015

Republican War on Women - Lawmakers Aiding the Evangelical Army

This is the thirty-fourth in a series of articles on the subjects of women, abortion rights and the Republican Party. 

Republicans continue to say they don’t have to change their core principles, they only have to change the language they use to get their message out.  One perception they want to alter is the idea that they are running a “War on Women”.  Looking at the news over the past few years, I’d say the Republican Party has a long way to go on this subject.
  • Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky): “Talk about a manufactured issue.  There is no issue.” 
  • RNC Chairman Reince Priebus:  “It’s a fiction.”
The Evangelical Front 

This Op-Ed piece, published in The New York Times yesterday, puts a face on the way conservative lawmakers are allowing, or in states like Ohio, publicly joining with faith-based organizations to stand in the way of a woman's right to make her own health decisions.  They seem to think that their belief in God gives them special rights that raise them above the law.  

(Any underlines are mine.)
A year ago, a mother and self-described "God-fearing woman" called me after she had an abortion.  She said that earlier, when she found herself unexpectedly pregnant, she drove straight to what she thought was a comprehensive health care provider near her home in Columbus, Ohio.  When she asked about abortion, the staff told her she shouldn't murder her child.  Ohio requires an ultrasound before an abortion, so the woman listened to the staff's condemnations, taking them to heart, crying.  She told me later, "I didn't know where else to go."
She had landed at a crisis pregnancy center, a religions nonprofit organization that obstructs women's access to abortion.  In recent years, many more low-income women are finding themselves in her shoes...
...Today, thousands of women seeking low-cost health care are ending up at crisis pregnancy centers.  Nationwide, there are more than 3,000 anti-choice centers advertising free services, like options counseling, pregnancy tests and ultrasounds.  They now outnumber abortion clinics by at least three to one.
 These organizations and their friendly volunteers may seem innocuous, but the centers are often staffed by evangelical women who lack professional license and belong to religious organizations that actively discourage them from recommending contraception, let alone abortion.  Two such organizations, Heartbeat International and Care Net, coach staff members to seem credible to "abortion-minded" women by scrubbing their websites, signage, and waiting rooms of all evidence of their underlying evangelical goals.  Staff members themselves say their centers are most appealing to young women without anywhere else to turn.
The obvious question here is, if they're so proud of what they are doing, why are they hiding their goals behind a wall of secularism?  If they want God to influence a woman's choice, why not say so?  What are they ashamed of?
In a year long investigation published in Cosmopolitan, I found that the information the centers gave women was often rife with omissions and misinformation.  When I attended a conference for Heartbeat International, multiple speakers and attendees discussed strategies to tell women that abortion could cause difficulties ranging from infertility, suicide, breast cancer and failure to bond with future children.  The medical research supports none of these claims.
Ah, question answered.  Lying is kind of against the rules according to the Ten Commandments.  So hide those Bibles!  You don't want to be seen as hypocrites!
Some of the states that are trying to defund Planned Parenthood are welcoming these centers...
...In Ohio, legislators provided $1 million over the next two years for the centers.  Meanwhile, the Ohio State Senate passed a bill last month that would restrict funding for Planned Parenthood affiliates, cutting access to breast and cervical cancer screenings, H.I.V. testing and violence against women programs.  Since Gov. John R. Kasich took office in 2011, the state has passed restrictions that have cut the number of abortion clinics by about half.
Last month, California enacted a law that requires unlicensed centers to disclose that they are not licensed medical providers and requires licensed centers to tell women that the state has programs for affordable family planning, abortion services and prenatal care.  A right-wing legal organization immediately sued to block the law, arguing that it infringed on the religious freedoms of the centers.
There goes that it's-okay-to-lie-to-poor-women-if-you're-a-religious-center-and-the-Bible-is-hidden-in-a-desk-drawer thing again.  I wonder, did they find that in the Old Testament or New Testament?
When a woman is coerced to continue an unwanted pregnancy through misinformation or lack of access, she loses control of her body, education, finances--her future.  The struggle for reproductive rights is inextricable from other movements for racial and economic justice.  We will not achieve equal opportunity until a poor woman has the same sovereignty over her body and her future as a wealthy man.  We must roll back the anti-choice legislation in our states that holds back equality.
Evangelical Christians say Islam is evil and the world would be a better place if all the world's Muslims--a religion with a definite record of second-class citizenship for women--were converted to Christianity.  Looking at the "Christian" right's record on women's issues, I wonder: Who is converting whom? 
You can read Ms. Winter's full article here. 

The Republican War on Women is "fiction?"


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