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Friday, 27 April 2012

The US War on Women

By: Liberate Zealot


I'm attending the marches in DC tomorrow and plan to live tweet and post pictures and a write-up afterwards.




Tomorrow is the National protest Unite Against the War on Women.  For the last several years the GOP has been rolling back and fighting against the rights of women in this country.  For many of us the most obvious signs of the war on women are the repeated attacks against abortion, contraceptives, and Planned Parenthood. There's so much going on at the local, state, and national level that it's nearly impossible to keep track.  Here's my compilation of the various acts of the War on Women.



Abortion Restrictions
There have been a variety of actions done at all levels of government that restrict women's access to abortions. They've done so in a variety of ways so here's a break down of the different types of restrictions, and where they're being done. 
Personhood Amendments are gaining favor in various states.  These state Amendments seek to redefine when life begins.  The majority are attempting to redefine it starting at conception with the idea that these Amendments will invalidate Roe vs. Wade and thus states will be able to ban abortions during the first trimester.  Alaska and Colorado both faced these Amendments before 2011 (they didn't pass) along with Maryland in 2009, Florida in 2009 (and again in 2012),  .  In November of 2011 Mississippi's Personhood Amendment failed.  In 2012 the Personhood Amendment is being considered in Arizona, Arkansas, Ohio, Florida, Nevada, Colorado (again), Oklahoma (passed in the Senate), Virginia, AlabamaWisconsin, KansasMississippi again (passed in the House), California.  Georgia has it upcoming as well.  


Mandatory (Transvaginal) Ultrasounds are an attempt to guilt trip (or trigger as they're basically rape) women into not getting an abortion.  They are in most instances not medically necessary, and place extra cost, time, and emotional and physical burden on the person seeking an abortion. Few bills specify Tranvaginal, however any ultrasound done before 8 weeks be necessity must be trans vaginal.  
Virginia's Bill that Mandates Transvaginal Ultrasounds was defeated.  However 20 states already had mandated Ultrasounds (many of which will be transvaginal).  Texas has passed one, including mandated transvaginal ultrasounds and Alabama, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania voted in 2011 or will vote in 2012 on Mandated Ultrasounds.

Decreased Time Limits
Arizona's most recent attack in the War on Women is already famous.  Like other states (to be listed) they're restricting the time limit when abortion is legal to 20 weeks.  However, the famous part is that they redefined when pregnancy begins, namely it's now at ovulation and therefore abortion is really restricted to the first 18 weeks of pregnancy.  Other states that limit abortions at 20 weeks are Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, and North Carolina.

Mandated Counseling/Waiting Periods/Parental Involvement all place greater burden on people seeking abortions and make it all but impossible for poor and rural women to get abortions (along with minors who don't have parental support). Mandated Counseling exists in 19 states (5 of these states require doctors to lie about increased risks of breast cancer).  26 states require waiting periods. While 37 states have some type of parental involvement law (22 require parental consent, 11 require parental notification, and 4 states require both)  In Mississippi both parents must consent for a minor to get an abortion.

There have also been bills to ban abortion coverage from private health care providers, health savings plans, and further limit the government coverage (the Hyde Amendment already limited abortion coverage to cases of rape, incest, or risk of the mothers life).

There have also been instances (PA) of bills proposed in state governments where doctors have the right to refuse life saving medical procedures for pregnant people if the procedure would result in the termination of the pregnancy.  It didn't pass, but Catholic hospitals in many states already have the right do to non-standard procedures or refuse treatment for pregnant people so as to fulfill their "moral obligation" to not terminate a pregnancy. 

Contraception
The Blunt Amendment was a federal Amendment that would have overridden POTUS Obama's healthcare plan. It would allow any employer to deny health care coverage for "moral reasons".  It was specifically geared towards contraception, though if it had passed it could have included any medical procedure or medication.

As I've already written, the general conversation about contraceptive coverage is extremely deceitful and sexist.
"However, this is really just the tip of the iceberg for how problematic the GOP's relation to contraceptives really is.  When the misogyny's as overt as these last two examples it's easy to call it out for what it is, and get wide societal support.   The bigger, and more dangerous, issue is the frame that the GOP and Limbaugh are creating around the whole debate of contraceptives.   The way they are misrepresenting facts, or blatantly lying, so as to undo laws about contraceptives that have existed for over a decade.  There really is a concentrated effort to not only halt, but push back, women's reproductive rights in the US."
But it's worth adding that the media and conservatives treatment of the women who speak up about the need for contraception and abortion is it's own facet of the War on Women.

There's also the continued presence of morality/conscience exceptions that allow pharmacists to deny emergency contraception. 13 states allow some health care providers to refuse to provide contraception services.

Planned Parenthood
 The attacks against Planned Parenthood have come from all over.  The state and federal governments, and (politically affiliated) health and charity groups.
During budget negotiations last year the Republicans in the Federal government proposed cutting all funding to Planned Parenthood.  This was one of the major sticking points are of the various budget debates. Luckily for millions of US women (and the other people who use PP) this didn't come to pass. However numerous states have denied (or attempted to deny) funding to Planned Parenthood. Ohio recently proposed, and then decided against, defunding PP. However, that wasn't the case in Texas, Kansas, Indiana, Tennessee, and North Carolina where PP had to sue to keep from losing funding.  This funding on the state level was often about not allowing medicare money to go to PP (even for well women exams and STD screenings).

Planned Parenthood was banned from participating in the Women's Health Program.

Then there was Komen's debacle of cutting their donations to Planned Parenthood's breast cancer screenings and exams.

Domestic Violence
The Violence Against Women Act became law in 1994 and has passed with bipartisan support sense then.  However, this year the Republicans are opposing the new bill, supposedly because it added extra inclusions for queer couples and illegal immigrants (they won't face risks of deportation for reporting abuse). Stalking was also included as a part of domestic violence

Then there's this local bit on the War on Women.  When Topeka, Kansas had to make budget cuts they decided to decriminalize domestic violence so they wouldn't have to bear the expense of jail and court trials of abusive partners

Health Care and the Affordable Care Act
This ties into contraception coverage and the fights against it (which is odd since it's been legally mandated for 10 years now).  However, contraception isn't the only way the Affordable Care Act helps women, and the contraception isn't the only part being attacked in the Republican War on Women. The Affordable Care Act also mandated that pre-existing conditions (like being a victim of domestic abuse, or having given birth via C-Section) couldn't be grounds for a denial of health insurance coverage.

Women also pay more in health care insurance (not necessarily procedures) over all then men. The Affordable Care Act (which the GOP is trying to completely do away with) prohibits any form of gender discrimination when it comes to health insurance.



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