The Conservatives’ War on Women’s Reproductive Rights

by Christina Arreola

If you’ve paid even a moment of attention to national news lately, you’re probably aware of the recent onslaught of legislation being brought before the House and Senate which aims to limit the reproductive rights of women.  In a country that prides itself on being the “land of the free,” it has become apparent that such a statement does not apply to women and the choices they make concerning their bodies, specifically their choices about reproduction.

A recent bill which went before the Senate and failed to pass, would have allowed employers the ability to deny healthcare to their employees based on their own personal “moral objections”.  In other words, if your employer had a moral aversion to your use of birth control, they could simply decline to cover this as part of your health benefits with the company.  Could you imagine having to get “permission” from your boss to use birth control covered under your health insurance?  Yes, the thought is appalling to me as well.

Another bill, which goes before the House in the near future, would impose criminal charges on those who aid and assist a young woman, in any way, in terminating her pregnancy without her parents’ permission, outside of her home state.  Now, as a parent myself, I can understand the concerns I would have over my daughter having such a procedure done without my knowledge and with the help of people who should have notified me beforehand.  However, the fact is that most young women do consult with their parent or guardian prior to electing to undergo such a procedure.  This actually is a non-issue by sheer numbers.

In the case of a young woman who is being raped and molested by a family member or has become pregnant and resides in a home with ultra-religious parents, this law could impose negatively life-altering, if not threatening, results.  Simply recall the famous novel “Push” by Sapphire which was turned into the box office hit “Precious” many years later.  This story was about a young black woman who was raped and beaten repeatedly by her father and mother from the age of 3.  “Precious” gave birth to 2 children, fathered by her own biological father.  Her oldest daughter was born with Down Syndrome and her youngest son, thankfully, was born without complications.  This novel by Sapphire was not a direct account of one such young lady, however was a compilation of the stories of many young women she encountered in her work as a literacy teacher in Harlem and the Bronx.

If such a law were to pass, teenage girls such as “Precious” would be forbidden to terminate their pregnancies without first notifying their mother and father and being granted their permission.  How would a conversation like that go, I imagine?  “Daddy, you got me pregnant.  I need you to take me down to the abortion clinic to sign some papers…”

Another law, proposed in the Virginia state senate, would have made it mandatory for a woman seeking to terminate her pregnancy to undergo a vaginal ultrasound prior to the procedure.  This means that the patient would have been forced to be penetrated by an ultrasound device roughly the size of an above averaged penis.  She would have been obligated to view the ultrasound picture of the embryo within her uterus before she was granted the procedure.  Now, for those of you who are not up to date on medical technology, I will first and foremost point out that the external ultrasound device currently used in most doctor’s offices not only does the exact same job as the vaginal device but is actually superior in quality with range of motion.

The mandate that a patient be penetrated by a vaginal ultrasound device is not only unnecessary but is, by definition, government sponsored rape.  Rape entails the unwilling penetration of a victim by another.  Supporters of this legislation argued that the female seeking the abortion got herself into that situation by being penetrated in the first place, so what’s the big deal?  What’s the big deal?  By that logic then you are saying that because this woman had consensual sex which caused her pregnancy that she is now expected to accept any penetration in the future, willingly or not.  With that line of reasoning then one could deduce that it would be perfectly acceptable for my boyfriend to force penetration on me, whether I wanted it or not, because we have had sex in the past.  So because I said yes before, it is no “big deal” if he forces himself inside of me when I say “no” now.  Any person of average intelligence can see the flaws in this thinking.

By now, I would hope that many of you are well aware of the Sandra Fluke-Rush Limbaugh controversy.  In short, Sandra Fluke, a third year law student at Georgetown University, stated before an unofficial Congressional hearing that she felt birth control should be free to the public, paid for by the government.  This spurred numerous negative commentaries by conservatives, most infamously, Rush Limbaugh, the notoriously insulting conservative talk-radio host.  Limbaugh accused Fluke of being a “whore” and compared her to a “prostitute,” saying that she was asking to be “paid to have sex.”

For those of you who are unaware, Viagra (the prescription medication which increases blood flow to the penis to allow men with erectile dysfunction to engage in sexual activity) is covered by Medicare.  Yes, American taxpayers, you are paying for your friendly neighborhood senior citizen to have sex.  Is this not the very same thing as birth control paid for by government subsidies?  Did Limbaugh completely ignore the fact that his peers are being “paid to have sex?”  For all we know, we could very well being paying Limbaugh himself to have sex.  So explain to me how taxpayer dollars going towards the funding of sexual enhancement medications for men is any different from taxpayer dollars going towards the prevention of pregnancy in women?  I can point out one difference right now.  Viagra does NOT prevent unwanted children from being brought into a country that’s in trillions of dollar’s worth of debt and bogged down by a 40% welfare dependency rate, 15% poverty rate and 8-13% unemployment rate.  Birth control, however, DOES.  I’m sorry Rush, I didn’t read that part in the “Guide to Double Standards.”

Women in this country and around the world are working diligently and tirelessly to preserve and protect our birth rights to the choices over our own bodies.  It appears, at this juncture, that conservatives seek only to thwart this movement.  In fact, it seems they’ve made it their mission.  Conservatives rally on a platform that they aim for smaller government.  A government who is not allowed to get their hands on your paycheck.  Yet they feel it is their duty to get their hands on your uterus.  They scream at the top of their lungs for the rights of a fetus but will persecute and deny the rights of that fetus if he/she turns out to be homosexual or transgender.  They proudly display their American patriotism while they work to chisel away at the very Constitutional rights this country was founded on.  Where does the hypocrisy end?  Does it end when they’re given a taste of their own medicine?  Does it end when the very rights they choose to take from us, The People, begin to work against them?  Does it end when we, The People, realize the power we hold over our government officials by sheer numbers?  Yes, America, THAT is where it ends.  We outnumber politicians 1,000,000 to 1.  Change comes when we realize the power we as a nation of people truly hold.  It IS us against the government.  Now what will YOU do to preserve your birthright to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”?