There’s a war being waged on the women of this country. Every day, in states from coast to coast, and in the halls of our nation’s capitol, Republican’s are launching attacks, trying to take away our rights. This week the outrageous actions of Republican-controlled state legislatures dominated the headlines as they promoted one extremist bill after another.
When I say coast to coast, I mean it. We can start in Alaska, where State Rep. Alan Dick suggested that women seeking an abortion should be required to have the signature of the man who impregnated her. He said, with that requirement, he’d “have a little more peace about it.” That kind of logic gives me anything but peace.
Across the country, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s magnanimous response to a mandatory ultrasound bill was that he was “not making anybody watch, OK?”. Women wouldn’t really be impacted by this law, they “just have to close their eyes.” If, as a lawmaker, you are suggesting that people “just close their eyes” to your legislation, that might be a good time for some reevaluation.
Unfortunately, those are not the only attacks we’ve witnessed. The Tennessee state legislature is currently working on a bill that would force the state’s health department to publish names of doctors who perform abortions and identifying statistics on the women who have had them. In Idaho, a State Senator had a two-pronged attack on women. First he sponsored a bill requiring mandatory ultrasounds for all women seeking abortions, including victims of sexual assault. Then he said that women use rape as an excuse for an abortion, and they needed counseling to make sure it wasn’t just part of “normal relations in a marriage.”
The attacks continue in Arizona, where legislators decided women should have to prove to their bosses that they need birth control to treat a medical condition. And, that women could be fired for using birth control to prevent pregnancy if that basic health care choice clashed with their boss’s morals. And one legislator went so far as to say that women who need to have an abortion should be required to watch one first . And in Texas, a bill mandating invasive ultrasounds for women seeking abortions, similar to the highly controversial Virginia legislation, has become a law.
It should come as no surprise that there aren’t too many Democratic women in the statehouses where these offensive bills are being proposed. In fact, all of these states rank among the lowest in terms of representation by Democratic women. As statisticians know, correlation is not causation, but, the argument seems pretty clear to me. The fewer Democratic women there are, the more attacks there are against women.
I find this swath of legislation offensive on so many levels. Not only are these legislators making the wrong decisions, but they are making decisions for women perfectly capable of making decisions for themselves. I’ve always been pretty decisive; I don’t need a stranger to make my decisions for me. Or to tell me what I can and cannot do or what kind of insurance I deserve under their moral code. Democratic women in office know this; they defend our rights every day. This week’s news cycle has only underlined the need for more Democratic women in office at every level.
There is good news, however. The EMILY’s List Political Opportunity program has been training hundreds of women to run for state and local office this cycle. And, this weekend, they will train their 1,000th woman. 1,000 women. That gives me some hope for the future. If those pro-choice, Democratic women start to fill the seats of state legislatures across this country we might not see as many of these kind of demeaning and punitive ideas becoming laws.