Many of you would think I am exaggerating if I called the recent women’s health debates in our domestic policies a “War on Women.” But if you actually pay attention to what goes on, you would see that it’s not an exaggeration at all. There seems to be a very definite theme in this presidential election, which is the GOP 2012 presidential candidates’ war on women’s health issues, more specifically birth control and abortion.
Let’s take a look at the most obvious fact: none of the most fervent policymakers attacking women’s contraception or the current presidential candidates are actually women. These are men trying to understand and control an issue which does not apply to their gender at all or affect them.
When women are being called “sluts” by right-wing conservatives for wanting access to contraception, it means something has gone terribly wrong in this country.
First of all, there is nothing “slutty” about a woman of any age wanting access to birth control. Most birth control pills contain a hormone called progestin, and while it’s well-known for its most common usage, to prevent pregnancy, it’s also beneficial to women in other ways. Thousands of women who take these pills actually need them for treatment of serious and often fatal ovarian cysts, and in a lot of cases, the prevention of breast cancer. Why all this hatred for a hormone?
A stir was caused recently when Catholic affiliated health groups and doctors tried to say it was “against their religious freedom” to be made to allow birth control to be covered in their health plans. Well, here’s what I have to say. Last time I checked, a doctor is supposed to look out for the best interest and well-being of their patients. Not allowing women the medication they need because it supposedly hinders the healthcare provider/doctor’s “religious freedom,” which is a ridiculous argument anyway, has to somehow be against the Hippocratic Oath. Trying to inject religion into modern medicine makes absolutely no sense.
We saw in the news recently a young law student named Sandra Fluke, who testified before Congress because her university didn’t include birth control in their student health plan, and she had a good friend who needed the pills for her ovarian cyst. The infamous, loud-mouthed radio personality Rush Limbaugh responded with calling her a “slut” and a “prostitute” because she’s going before Congress to say that “she must be paid to have sex” and that “she’s having so much sex that she can’t afford her birth control.”
Although we can’t say that this foul-mouthed bigot speaks for all of the GOP candidates, it’s still an example of the absolutely illogical and foul responses by men to women’s health issues. Even Mitt Romney himself didn’t entirely refute Limbaugh’s statements.
And speaking of Romney, this is where I come to my next point. A huge part of Romney’s campaign is his promise to “end Planned Parenthood.” Ending Planned Parenthood would be the biggest travesty ever to occur in the history of women’s healthcare. Let me explain. Planned Parenthood has been given the label of “the place where women go to kill their fetuses.” If Romney or any of his supporters actually educated themselves on the issue, they’d know that abortions are only a tiny percentage of the services that Planned Parenthood provides. The clinics also offer breast cancer screenings, ovarian screenings, pap smears and even rape counseling for a lot of low-income women who can’t normally afford these essential medical services.
On the subject of abortion, there have been even more outrageous proposals made lately. In Georgia, a measure called HB 954 proposes to outlaw abortion after 20 weeks, even in cases of extreme complication surrounding the pregnancy and even, prepare yourself, in cases in which the fetus does not survive. That’s right, if this law would pass it would mean a woman would be forced by the government to carry a stillborn fetus to full term, for absolutely no logical reason. Georgia state Rep. Terry England spoke in defense of this measure, even going as far as comparing women to cows and pigs because, in farming life, livestock have to carry their stillborns to term, and therefore according to his logic, so should women.
What I’m wondering is, why aren’t more people furious about this? Not just women, but men too, men whose mothers, wives, and daughters are being treated by our government as though they can’t make decisions about their own health. It seems the only thing that I, a college student, can do is to urge everyone who feels strongly about this to please go out and vote, for every woman’s sake. I don’t know how I’ll feel about living in this country if, within a few years, my entire gender is systematically stripped of their civil rights. Ladies, help yourselves out and educate yourselves on these issues so you can be prepared when men of high authority try to tell us we have can’t have any say in our own health issues.