Since Republicans took control of the House of Representative in January, ther has been a concerning set of priorities revealed through the proposed legislation put forth by Speaker of the House John Boehner and his colleagues, many of which have attacked women. Whether we look at the failed GOP proposal to redefine rape in a way completely antithetical to women’s rights, at restricting access to legal and safe abortions, or at many other proposals, the storyline is clear. In Georgia, an attempt to redefine a rape “victim” as an “accuser” until such time that a conviction is made was made. Rape convictions are uncommon, happening only about once for every sixteen rapes, due to rape cases being difficult to try in court, and to lack of rape reports due to fear of backlash or embarrassment.
In South Dakota, a bill was put forth that would allow a “justifiable homicide” claim in certain murders that take place against someone about to harm an unborn child, opening the door to anti-choice individuals to claim that abortion doctors doing their jobs fall under that heading. In many cases, the attacks on women are less obvious, as is the proposal to reduce funding for food and aid to low income pregnant women and mothers, under the newly-popular guise of “fiscal responsibility” from conservatives, which they conveniently didn’t mention during the deficit explosion that happened during George W. Bush’s watch.
I could use up the rest of this article just naming Republican attacks on women, like cutting funding for senior citizens programs in which more than two-thirds of the members are women, and cutting Head Start funding, which would prevent many women from working – with the recent example of Maryland Republicans who defended proposed preschool cuts by saying that kids should be home with their mothers, where women belong.
The attack on Planned Parenthood, which provides STD testing, contraceptives, and cancer screening to millions of women every year, is a key part of this narrative. Abortions represent only three percent of what Planned Parenthood does, but it has been the driving force for conservatives discussing why they want to de-fund it. Not only is this a terrible attack on the women for whom Planned Parenthood is the only place to obtain many medical services, it is opening the door to endangering women, too.
On a recent David Pakman Show broadcast, I interviewed the founder of a group of “pregnancy centers” who during our interview suggested that centers like his would be able to pick up the slack for Planned Parenthood if it is de-funded and goes away. I asked whether his pregnancy centers are licensed medical facilities, something that many are not, and it made my guest very angry, prompting him to ask whether I was attempting to “sandbag” him, and questioning whether I was somehow working with or for Planned Parenthood.
This interview is the first I’ve done that ended up with the guest hanging up on me, and in retrospect, was very revealing about the lack of depth in many of the arguments behind the anti-women proposals that riddle the political landscape today.
Many women go to pregnancy centers like my guest’s assuming, based on the name, that it is an actual medical facility where they will have a choice of all legal options when it comes to women’s health. The reality is that many pregnancy centers are not licensed medical facilities, do not provide abortions, even in states where they are legal, and do not tell their “patients” this. Moreover, many deliberately delay the woman’s decision until she can no longer legally get an abortion in that particular state.
The bizarre justification provided by some Republicans for cutting funds to Planned Parenthood, even when abortion is only three percent of what they do, is that any money that goes to Planned Parenthood, even for cancer screenings, makes more funds available for abortion, period. The reality of the situation is that cutting funding would be devastating to women, and could end up with the deaths of pregnant women. We also are seeing that many anti-choice groups are unqualified and unprepared to be involved in women’s medical decisions. And by the way…I thought conservatives and Republicans wanted less government intrusions into people’s lives. How could they simultaneously believe they should be involved in the day-to-day medical decisions that should fall to individuals and their doctors?
If the real concern is cutting spending, let’s focus on a drawdown of the military industrial complex and war obsession. Maybe instead of 50 Army bases in Germany, we could be safe with 40? If the concern is “life,” let’s work on being pro-life after people are born, too, which includes healthcare, and access to safe legal abortions for women. If the concern is bowing to corporate and lobbyist funding and extreme ideology, then Republicans are on the right path.
David Pakman is the host of the internationally syndicated political talk radio and television program The David Pakman Show. He can be reached at www.davidpakman.com