I was raised in a conservative, Republican, military family. I support personal freedom and personal responsibility. I support the military. I support a balanced budget. I support individual rights and the constitution. I support small government. But I find myself increasingly separated from the Republican Party, and this is why:
I cannot align myself with a party that repeatedly acts to restrict the rights of women, to deny women protection from abuse and violence, and to trample the rights of women to make their own medical decisions. I cannot support a party where individual rights and freedoms are only protected for people with a penis (so long as they are not gay).
On February 16, 2012, there was a hearing by the Oversight and Government Reform Committee regarding the Affordable Care Act, which concerned the availability for contraception through insurance provided through religiously-affiliated employers. Out of the ten witnesses called, only two were women. When other representatives asked that other female witnesses be called to testify regarding contraceptives, Chairman Darrell Issa refused their request on the grounds that the scope of the committee was limited to the 1st Amendment implications and not to the matter of contraceptives themselves.
Republicans in Virginia, Oklahoma, Colorado, Wisconsin and Mississippi have advanced “Personhood” acts/bills declaring that a fetus has the full legal rights of a person, beginning at fertilization. Such laws would make in-vitro fertilization, stem-cell research, the morning-after-pill andall abortions (medically necessary or not) illegal. It could also be interpreted to make standard birth control options such as the Nuva ring, the pill, IUDs, and birth control patches illegal. Democrat Vivian Watts in VA attempted to amend the bill in Virginia to specify that contraception would not be banned under the Personhood bill, but Republicans voted 64-34 against adding this amendment. Any abortion or even cases of miscarriage due to negligence could be charged as manslaughter or homicide. Another attempt at amending the bill was proposed by Democrat Jennifer McClellan on Feburary 13, 2012.
Virginia HB 1 § 1. The life of each human being begins at conception.
§ 2. Unborn children have protectable interests in life, health, and well-being.
§ 3. The natural parents of unborn children have protectable interests in the life, health, and well-being of their unborn child.
§ 4. The laws of this Commonwealth shall be interpreted and construed to acknowledge on behalf of the unborn child at every stage of development all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of this Commonwealth, subject only to the Constitution of the United States and decisional interpretations thereof by the United States Supreme Court and specific provisions to the contrary in the statutes and constitution of this Commonwealth.
§ 5. As used in this section, the term “unborn children” or “unborn child” shall include any unborn child or children or the offspring of human beings from the moment of conception until birth at every stage of biological development.
§ 6. Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as creating a cause of action against a woman for indirectly harming her unborn child by failing to properly care for herself or by failing to follow any particular program of prenatal care.
§ 7. Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as affecting lawful assisted conception.
Virginia HB 1, McClellen’s proposed Amendment to the above: Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as creating a cause of action against a woman for directly or indirectly harming her unborn child.
According to March of Dimes, as many as 40-50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage – most often before a woman misses a menstrual period or even knows she is pregnant. About 15% of recognized pregnancies will end in a miscarriage.
Utah passed a bill, sponsored by Sen. Margaret Dayton, a Republican, into law in February of 2010 that allows women to be criminally charged if they cannot prove a miscarriage was accidental. Women could be legally held responsible for miscarriages caused by “reckless behavior.” Opponents to the law are concerned with the lack of specificity in the term “reckless behavior.” Missy Bird, the director of Planned Parenthood Action Fund of Utah, “there is nothing in the bill to exempt a woman for not wearing her seatbelt who got in an accident.”
Utah HB 12: This bill amends provisions of the Utah Criminal Code to describe the difference between abortion and criminal homicide of an unborn child and to remove prohibitions against prosecution of a woman for killing an unborn child or committing criminal homicide of an unborn child.[…] This bill provides that a woman is not guilty of criminal homicide of her own unborn child if the death of her unborn child is caused by a criminally negligent act of the woman; and is not caused by an intentional, knowing, or reckless act of the woman;
A similar bill was advanced in Georgia by Republican Bobby Franklin in 2010 and 2011, and is still under consideration in 2012, even after the bill sponsor’s death last year. The bill would make miscarriage a crime unless the woman could prove that there was no human involvement in the miscarriage. All miscarriages would require a investigation to determine culpability.
Georgia HB 1: ‘Prenatal murder’ means the intentional removal of a fetus from a woman with an intention other than to produce a live birth or to remove a dead fetus; provided, however, that if a physician makes a medically justified effort to save the lives of both the mother and the fetus and the fetus does not survive, such action shall not be prenatal murder. Such term does not include a naturally occurring expulsion of a fetus known medically as a ‘spontaneous abortion’ and popularly as a ‘miscarriage’ so long as there is no human involvement whatsoever in the causation of such event. […]
Any person committing prenatal murder in this state shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, shall be punished as provided in subsection (d) of Code Section 16-5-1. The license of any physician indicted for an alleged violation of this Code section shall be suspended until resolution of the matter. The license of any physician convicted of a violation of this Code section shall be permanently revoked. The provisions of this Code section shall be in addition to any other provisions relating to the killing of a fetus or any other person.” […]
When a spontaneous fetal death required to be reported by this Code section occurs without medical attendance at or immediately after the delivery or when inquiry is required by Article 2 of Chapter 16 of Title 45, the ‘Georgia Death Investigation Act,’ the proper investigating official shall investigate the cause of fetal death and shall prepare and file the report within 30 days;
In addition, HB 1 also carries this little gem: As the United States Constitution confers to no federal branch either the authority over the definition or prosecution of murder, or the power to nullify the laws of a state that do the same, Roe v. Wade is ‘no law,’ is a nullity, and carries no legal effect in Georgia;.
That same Rep. Franklin of GA also introduced a bill in February of 2011 to reclassify victims of rape, stalking, harassment, and family or domestic violence as “accusers” rather than victims. The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee issued a response to this bill, saying, “Burglary victims are still victims. Assault victims as 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.”
Georgia HB 14: Can be found in full here: http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/20112012/108144.pdf
.The bill repeatedly strikes “victim” and replaces it with “accuser” in Code Section 16-5-93 (relating to the crime of stalking), Code Section 16-6-1 (relating to the crime of rape), Code Section 16-12-100.3 (relating to obscene telephone contact with a child), and Code Section 17-4-20.1, (relating to famioy violence). The bill continues to change the wording from “victim” to “accuser” in all documents and court proceedings related to matters of bail, electronic pretrial release, HIV testing of a perpetrator following a sexual attack (the cost of the HIV test may be born by the victim, by the way), and full discovery disclosure.
Republican Kathleen Passidomo of FL said in March of 2011, there was “an 11 year old girl who was gangraped in Texas by 18 young men because she was dressed like a 21-year-old prostitute.” [My own comment – victim-blaming is bad enough in any circumstance, but to put the blame on a child for what 18 adult men chose to do to her is abhorrent]
The Virginia legislature passed a bill on February 14, 2012, requiring all women seeking an abortion to undergo a medically unnecessary ultrasound – depending on how far along the pregnancy is, a transvaginal ultrasound may be required. Women are not allowed to opt out of this invasive procedure. Texas and Iowa have similar laws. Opponents to these laws have called it state-sanctioned rape because the women are vaginally penetrated without consent or the ability to refuse. Doctors also protest the bill, on the grounds that performing medically-unnecessary, invasive procedures constitutes a breach of ethics.
Virginia HB 462: Abortion; informed consent. Requires that, as a component of informed consent to an abortion, to determine gestation age, every pregnant female shall undergo ultrasound imaging and be given an opportunity to view the ultrasound image of her fetus prior to the abortion. The medical professional performing the ultrasound must obtain written certification from the woman that the opportunity was offered and whether the woman availed herself of the opportunity to see the ultrasound image or hear the fetal heartbeat. A copy of the ultrasound and the written certification shall be maintained in the woman’s medical records at the facility where the abortion is to be performed. This bill incorporates HB 261.
In February of 2011, Republicans in the Maryland Board of County Commissioners cut the funding to Head Start, which provides early childhood education to the children of low-income parents, by 50%. When asked about their decision, Commissioner Paul Smith and Commissioner Kirby Delauter (both Republicans) said that women should be married and at home with their kids, as their own wives are. If more women stayed home with the children, the program would be unnecessary.
Paul Smith, in a February 8, 2011 Commissioner’s meeting: I know — as many of you know — I had a lot of kids … and my wife stayed home — a significant sacrifice — during those early years, because she knew she had to be with those kids at that critical age, and I know everybody isn’t able to survive doing that, but clearly … as we can strengthen marriage we can decrease the children that we [the governement] have to reach.
Kirby Delauter, in a February 8, 2011 Commissioner’s meeting: My wife, college educated, could go out and get a very good job. She gave that up for 18 years so she could stay home with our kids, we had to give up a lot to do that. I agree again with Commissioner Smith, you know, the marriage thing is very important. I mean, education of your kids starts at home, okay? I never relied on anyone else to guarantee the education of my kids.
In October of 2011, the House passed a bill called the “Protect Life Act,” sponsored by Republican Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania. Known by its opponents as the “Let Women Die Act,” this bill allows hospitals, doctors, or other health care entities to refuse abortions to women, even for women with life-threatening complications in need of an emergency abortion.
HR 358: A Federal agency or program, and any State or local government that receives Federal financial assistance under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act), may not subject any institutional or individual health care entity to discrimination, or require any health plan created or regulated under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act) to subject any institutional or individual health care entity to discrimination, on the basis that the health care entity refuses to–
(A) undergo training in the performance of induced abortions,(B) require or provide such training;
(C) perform, participate in, provide coverage of, or pay for induced abortions; or
(D) provide referrals for such training or such abortions.
In February of 2012, every Republican in the Senate Judiciary Committee voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, which funds services to protect adult and teen victims of domestic violence and sexually motivated crimes. Among the services offered under VAWA are the following: legal aid for victims of violence, programs and services for victims with disabilities, community violence prevention programs, and funding for rape crisis centers and hotlines.
Police in New Hampshire are currently protesting HB 1608 and HB 1581, both sponsored by Republicans. HB 1581 strikes from the law the right of an officer to make an arrest when the officer has probable cause to believe that someone will destroy or conceal evidence of the offense or will cause further personal injury. HB 1608 restricts the cases in which a judge can order the arrest of a person who violates a domestic violence protective order. Police say these bills would prevent them from intervening to protect victims of domestic violence and limit judges’ abilities to order the arrest of perpetrators of domestic violence who violate their restraining orders. Police chief Tim Russell offers this example of how the new bills could, if passed into law, negatively affect the police’s ability to respond: “An officer is called to a home where she sees clear evidence that an assault has occurred. The furniture is overturned, the children are sobbing, and the face of the woman of the house is bruised and bleeding. It’s obvious who the assailant was, but the officer arrived after the assault occurred. It’s a small department and no one else on the force is available to keep the peace until the officer finds a judge or justice of the peace to issue a warrant. The officer leaves, and the abuser renews his attack with even more ferocity, punishing his victim for having called for help.”
New Hampshire HB 1581: Under section 5, Protection of Persons From Domestic Violence; Protection by Peace Officers, it is proposed that they amend RSA 173-B:10, II to strike the section that currently reads: II. Pursuant to RSA 594:10, an arrest for abuse may be made without a warrant upon probably cause, whether or not the abuse is committed in the presence of the peace officer.
New Hampshire HB 1608: Analysis: This bill limits the grounds for arrest and criminal contempt resulting from violation of a domestic violence protective order. The bill also removes a reference to the plaintiff’s authority to bring a criminal complaint for violation of the protective order.
Current US law is that federal funds cannot be used to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion, except in the cases of rape, incest, or danger to the life of the mother. Republican Chris Smith of New Jersey attempted to restrict this further to cover only abortions in the case of “forcible rape,” excluding the cases of incest, of women who are drugged or threatened into submission, and cases of young women and children who become pregnant from statutory rape or pedophilia. His proposal, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion” act, faced strong criticism from both Democrats and other republicans, and Smith withdrew the “forcible rape” qualifier in February of 2011. As one petition circulated by MoveOn.org stated, “As far too many women know, bruises and broken bones do not define rape – a lack of consent does.” An anonymous GOP aide supported the removal of the qualifier “forcible rape,” saying, “such a removal would be a good idea, since last I checked, rape by definition is non-consensual.”
HR 3: No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion [note from me – since the qualifier “forcible rape” was removed, I am having a little difficulty finding the original text. Numerous secondary sources confirm that “forcible rape” was originally included. If anyone knows of a link to the original text, I will include it here]
On February 16, 2012, during a legislative committee hearing on a resolution urging the Obama administration to drop the birth control requirement for religious organizations, State Rep. Lynne Blankenbeker, a Republican from New Hampshire, stated “People with or without insurance have two affordable choices, one being abstinence and the other being condoms, both of which you can get over the counter.” She suggests that married couples should practice abstinence rather than use birth control pills.
I am tempted not to include this one, just because Liz Trotta is not an elected official. I am going to include it anyway, because I was shocked at the sheer audacity of her comments. But keep in mind that she is not a government official, just your every-day-citizen who happens to have a platform from which to speak. She is a Republican and a Fox News Contributor. On February 12, 2012, in regards to women serving in the military, Trotta said “And the sexual abuse report says that there has been, since 2006, a 64% increase in violent sexual assaults. Now, what did they expect?” She complained that the military was spending too much money on victim’s services ” to support women in the military who are now being raped too much.”
I am also going to include Foster Friess, but with a similar caveat to the one I gave for Liz Trotta. Friess is not an elected official, although he is a spokesperson for the Santorum campaign. In an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on February 16, 2012, Friess first criticized American culture’s preoccupation with sex. He went on to say “This contraceptive thing. My gosh, it’s so inexpensive. Back in my days they used Bayer Aspirin for contraception. The gals put it between their knees, and it wasn’t that costly.”
The Equal Rights Amendment has still not been ratified on a federal level. Both parties share in culpability on this matter. The ERA states that “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” The ERA was first introduced in Congress by Republicans in 1923 and was repeatedly blocked by the Democrats. In the decades since, the parties have reversed their positions on the ERA. In 1980, the Republican Party withdrew its support for the amendment. President Ronald Reagan opposed the ERA. The last vote on the ERA was held in 1983; 85% of Democrats voted for the amendment, whereas only 30% of Republicans voted for it. In 2007, Patrick Briney, President of the Arkansas Republican Assembly called supporters of the ERA “anti-family activists.” The Virginia Senate ratified the ERA in February of 2012, with some Republicans joining the Democrats to approve the amendment. Other Republicans said that the amendment is unnecessary because society already views women as equal, evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.
Women are not inferior to men. The fact that this even needs to be said in the 21st century is just ridiculous.
Women should be able to make their own choices about healthcare and contraception. It is not up to the government, my employer, or my religious leaders to tell me what forms of contraception I can or cannot use or have access to.
Victims of rape should not be blamed. It does not matter if the victim is 6, 16, or 60 years old, if the victim is male or female, gay or straight or anything in between. The perpetrator of a crime is responsible, not the victim.
Rape is rape is rape. It does not matter if the victim was beaten, threatened, drugged, or coerced into submission. If there is no consent, it is rape.
Like it or not, abortion is deemed “a fundamental right under the US Constitution.” Until and unless Roe v. Wade is overturned, the numerous state laws and federal bills that restrict a woman’s right to abortion are a gross interference with personal liberties.
How can we say we are a country that values liberty if we ask women to die rather than let them have an abortion?
How can we say that we are a country that values liberty when we deny women access to affordable contraception, refuse them access to abortion, and then blame them for having more children than they can support?
How can we say we are a country that supports liberty when violence against women is consistentlyunder-prosecuted in cases of rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence?
How can we say we are a country that supports liberty when we affirm that “All men are created equal,” but do not extend that equality to women as well?
Caveat Lector – a little background on how this article came to be. I was having a discussion with a fellow Republican and I mentioned how disappointed I was in the GOP for their recent attacks on women’s rights. He didn’t think that there was a pattern of attacks on women’s rights and asked me to show him the proof. This is the result. So, yes, in this article I do have an agenda: my agenda is to uncover a pattern of Republicans endorsing and proposing legislation that is anti-female. You can dismiss me for having an agenda. You can say that I wrote this with a slant. But you cannot deny that these are actual bills that have been put forth on the state or federal level.
Katie German is a graduate student in Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University, a passionate activist of women’s rights, and the author of Confessions of a Thinking Woman.
Categories: Activism, Christianity, Feminism, Feminist Theology, Politics