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It’s going to be a misogynistic year

It already has been, unfortunately. Here’s Gail Collins on the recent efforts by some right wing activists who are targeting Planned Parenthood:

The people trying to put Planned Parenthood out of business do not seem concerned about what would happen to the 1.85 million low-income women who get family-planning help and medical care at the clinics each year. It just doesn’t come up. There’s not even a vague contingency plan.

“I haven’t seen that they want to propose an alternative,” said [Planned Parenthood president Cecile] Richards.

There are tens of millions Americans who oppose abortion because of deeply held moral principles. But they’re attached to a political movement that sometimes seems to have come unmoored from any concern for life after birth.

There is no comparable organization to Planned Parenthood, providing the same kind of services on a national basis. If there were, most of the women eligible for Medicaid-financed family-planning assistance wouldn’t have to go without it.

That’s because the people doing this and the legislators who enable them don’t care about that. The hostility they have towards women is shocking. Kaili Joy Grey summarizes some of that hostility:

[A]s Republicans have gained greater control of elected offices at the federal and state levels, we are witnessing the concerted effort to undo the very legislation intended to protect women’s health, lives, and livelihood. Even as Republicans offer empty platitudes about equality and feminism, their agenda to legislate women into second-class citizenship has never been clearer.

One of the major battles for Republicans is equal pay. Last year, Senate Republicans voted to blockthe Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have expanded and improved the protections of the 45-year-old Equal Pay Act. Republicans made clear at the time that they were far more concerned with protecting employers from costly litigation than with ensuring that employers are not allowed to discriminate against women.

Now, Republicans in Minnesota are taking this argument one step further, by proposing legislation to repeal existing laws to enforce equal pay for women because it’s just too expensive for small businesses and local governments to ensure that women are paid equally. And besides, they argue, such enforcement is no longer necessary because the pay gap has been all but eradicated.

It’s a lie, of course. The pay gap still exists. In Minnesota, for example, in both the private and public sectors, the gap between men and women’s pay ranges from 24 to 49 percent.

Critics of equity laws argue that the pay gap isn’t real because women choose lower-paying jobs. That too is a lie. Even within the same professions, the pay gap between men and women is real and significant. An extensive new study found that in the medical field, female doctors earn nearly $17,000 less than their male counterparts. To compare, the pay gap for doctors in 1999 was $3,600. That pay gap is real, and it is getting worse.

[…]

What has received far less attention this week is a new bill introduced by State Representative Bobby Franklin in the Georgia State Legislature:

To amend Titles 16 and 17 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to criminal law and criminal procedure, respectively, so as to change the term “victim” to the term “accuser” in the context of a number of statutes making reference to circumstances where there has not yet been a criminal conviction; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

The law would apply to victims of stalking, rape, and domestic violence, crimes in which the vast majority of victims are women and the perpetrators are men. As the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee explained:

Burglary victims are still victims. Assault victims are still victims. Fraud victims are still victims. But if you have the misfortune to suffer a rape, or if you are beaten by a domestic partner, or if you are stalked, Rep. Franklin doesn’t think you’ve been victimized. He says you’re an accuser until the courts have determined otherwise.

To diminish a victim’s ordeal by branding him/her an accuser essentially questions whether the crime committed against the victim is a crime at all. Robbery, assault, and fraud are all real crimes with real victims, the Republican asserts with this bill.

Republicans have, for years, attempted to redefine what constitutes “real” rape and not-really rape, or as Kristen Schall on the Daily Show called it, rape-ish. In 2006, South Dakota State Senator Bill Napoli made news when he described what he considered a legitimate exception to the sweeping new abortion bill that would not permit exceptions even for rape or incest:

A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.

Brutal rape. Forcible rape. Rape of a religious virgin who intends to save herself for marriage. These are the rape victims accusers deemed valid by the Republican ideology that presumes rape victims are guilty until proven innocent. While such proposed legislation has not yet become the law of the land, the idea that rape victims accusers are responsible for their own assault has taken firm root in our discourse about violence against women.

This is in addition to another bill, HR 358, which would allow hospitals to refuse treatment to a woman who might need a pregnancy terminated, even if doing so could result in the woman’s death. Think it could never come to that? The state of Idaho has already refused to sanction a pharmacist who refused to fill an emergency prescription because the requester didn’t give in to his demand to know if the woman who needed the prescription had had an abortion.

I have always found stuff like this to be shocking, repugnant, and deeply puzzling, but it takes on a new urgency for me these days as a father of two little girls. How am I supposed to protect them from that? I can’t, of course. But I can teach them to fight back against it, and that’s very much what I intend to do.

By the way, those jokers who did that undercover videotaping of the Planned Parenthood employees? They altered the audio on their tape to make the employee look worse. This is not the first time these folks have done that, either. Why is it that they are granted any credibility by mainstream news outlets?

And finally, the Senate this week takes up the Governor’s “emergency” sonogram legislation, which is designed primarily to make women who are having an abortion feel bad about it. The thing to watch is whether the Senate Democrats refuse to vote to suspend the rules to let the bill come to the floor. There are nine sure votes against bringing it up; the Senators I’m uncertain about are Carlos Uresti, Eddie Lucio, and Judith Zaffirini. If two of them vote against suspending the rules, the bill will be stopped. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t be attached to some other bill later as an amendment, of course. But keep an eye on the voting for this one, it’s by no means guaranteed to pass.

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4 Comments

  1. Eileen says:

    Disturbing.

    I used to not worry so much about the anti-abortion nutjobs, because it seemed a pretty strong majority of the country was pro-choice… but now that may be changing. I still can’t get over the number of women standing with these conservative creeps.

    Though as others have pointed out, you can’t oppress women without a good number of them willing to do it for you.

  2. texaschick says:

    These conservative nutjobs save the fetus but kill the child.

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