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“Property Of The State”: For Women In Virginia, It’s All About Your Vagina

The Right’s War on Women really has become focused. It’s not just a general war on the gender, with trivial things like equal pay for equal work. No, it’s now reduced down the core. It’s all about your vagina.

For example, see CNN’s latest monster, Breitbart protege Dana Loesch. Commenting on the proposed Virginia law that would require women seeking abortions be forced to undergo vaginal penetration by an ultrasound-wand wielding health care professional, Loesch says that once a woman has had sex, consensual or not, she’s given up all say on what happens down there.

LOESCH: That’s the big thing that progressives are trying to say, that it’s rape and so on and so forth. […] There were individuals saying, “Oh what about the Virginia rape? The rapes that, the forced rapes of women who are pregnant?” What? Wait a minute, they had no problem having similar to a trans-vaginal procedure when they engaged in the act that resulted in their pregnancy.

Sorry non-virgins, all your vaginas belong to the state now. Hell, with this reasoning, if you’ve used a tampon you’ve pretty much given up control. It’s not just soulless, attention seeking gasbags saying so, it’s the state. Here’s what one Virginia lawmakersaid about the bill, as reported by Dahlia Lithwick.

During the floor debate on Tuesday, Del. C. Todd Gilbert announced that “in the vast majority of these cases, these [abortions] are matters of lifestyle convenience.” (He has since apologized.) Virginia Democrat Del. David Englin, who opposes the bill, has said Gilbert’s statement “is in line with previous Republican comments on the issue,” recalling one conversation with a GOP lawmaker who told him that women had already made the decision to be “vaginally penetrated when they got pregnant.” […]

There you go, women of America. If you’ve ever had sex, your vagina is fair game. You don’t get to say what happens to it now.

Can’t imagine why that’s such an unpopular idea in Virginia. It’s so unpopular, in fact, that the House has decided to put off consideration of it, at least for today.


By: Joan McCarter, Daily Kos, February 20, 2012

February 21, 2012 Posted by | Women's Health, Womens Rights | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Will 2012 Be The Year Of The “Birth Control Moms”?

First came the soccer moms.

Then the security moms.

Will 2012 be the year of the “birth control moms”?

Just a few weeks ago, the notion would have seemed far-fetched. The country  is deeply divided on abortion, but not on  contraception; the vast majority of American women have used it, and access  hasn’t been a front-burner political issue since the Supreme Court decided Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965.

But then Rick Santorum said states ought to have the right to outlaw the sale of contraception.

And Susan G. Komen for the Cure yanked its funding for Planned  Parenthood.

And the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops teed off on President Barack Obama’s contraception policy.

And House Republicans invited  a panel of five men — and no women — to debate the issue.

And a prominent Santorum supporter pined for the days when “the gals” put aspirin “between their knees” to ward off pregnancy.

Democratic strategist Celinda Lake says it’s enough to “really irritate” independent suburban moms and “re-engage” young, single women who haven’t tuned into the campaign so far.

And, she says, the stakes are high: Women backed Barack Obama in big numbers in 2008 but then swung right in 2010. If the president is to win reelection in  2012, he’ll need to win women back — and Lake and other Democrats see the GOP push on contraception as a gift that will make that easier.

“I feel like the world is spinning backwards,” said former Rep. Patricia Schroeder, who has often related the troubles she had as a young married law student getting her birth control prescriptions filled in the early 1960s. “If  you had told me when I was in law school that this would be a debate in 2012, I  would have thought you were nuts … And everyone I talk to thinks so, too.”

Jennifer Lawless, director of the Women and Politics Institute at American University, also sees the chance of a huge female backlash if the Republicans overreach.

“If women feel they are being targeted again, that women’s health is on the  line — that’s not an argument you want to make in an election year,” she  said.

Not so, says Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway, who’s advising Newt Gingrich. Voters understand that Republicans aren’t trying to come between women and the pill. They are fighting for constitutionally protected religious freedoms.

“This doesn’t inhibit any woman’s ability to access contraception,” Conway  said. “The question is should we pay for it, and should conscientious objectors be forced to compromise their beliefs.”

And, she argued, Obama blundered by talking reproduction while American women want to hear about recovery. Voters see it as a distraction from jobs, jobs, jobs.

“Overreach and distraction can really sink his presidency,” Conway said. “Voters demand a course correction from either party when they see overreach — and in his case, course correction means losing reelection.”

How it plays out between now and November may depend on how long the debate  lasts — and whether the contraception-access or religious-freedom frame  prevails.

The conservatives on the other side say the fight is not about birth control or women’s health. It’s about morality and religious liberty under the  Constitution. And that’s a basic American value that resonates with voters, they  say.

“That’s about as fundamentally American as any principle I’m aware of,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) told reporters this week. Blunt is sponsoring legislation that  would allow any employer to refuse to cover any health benefit on moral grounds — not just birth control or abortion, and not just employers like a school or hospital that have a formal religious affiliation.

Republicans are beginning to insert the religious freedom argument into some Senate races, particularly those where at least one candidate is a woman.

But Rep. Tammy Baldwin, who is running for Senate in Wisconsin, said the radio ads in her state won’t work. She told POLITICO that Wisconsin voters are  probably still most concerned about the economy, but they’re also “aghast that,  in 2012, birth control could even be an issue of contention.”

That social and political acceptance of contraception has translated into broader insurance coverage. Contraceptives are increasingly  treated like any other drug, according to Usha Ranji, associate director of  women’s health policy at the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

Many states require contraceptive coverage as a benefit, and federal employees plans have included it since 1998. A Kaiser-Health Research and  Educational Trust survey found that four out five large employers covered birth  control in 2010, and nearly two out of three smaller businesses did. Abortion coverage is much less common.

The trend toward greater birth control coverage for women was also given a jolt after Viagra became widely available and covered under health plans in the late 1990s. Women demanded pill parity.

Although there was some variation depending on how the question was worded, several recent opinion polls found considerable support, even among Catholics, for Obama’s policy to require employers to cover contraceptives as a preventive  health care benefit while allowing exemptions for religious employers.

But the debate from here out isn’t about religious affiliates, such as a  parochial school or Catholic hospital. It’s about broader opt-outs for  individual employers, not just those with an institutional religious affiliation.

Blunt noted that there are many people who have moral objections to specific medical services. Vaccines and blood transfusions are examples.

But advocates of broader coverage requirements note that many people pay, directly or through tax dollars, for policies they disagree with.

Public programs like Medicaid finance contraception, as do federally funded clinics. Federal tax breaks go to all qualified employee health plans, no matter what women’s health provisions they include. And people pay for all sorts of policies they disagree with, whether it’s a war or an environmental regulation.

Ironically, Lawless noted, all the attention to contraception at the moment may end up boosting the overall public standing of the 2010 health care law. Free preventive health care, whether it’s a cancer screening or the pill, may well become as popular as provisions like allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26.

“People understand this,” said Lawless. “They can say, ‘I get it. This helps me. This helps my daughter.’ They don’t understand things like a tax credit for student loan interest.”

So far, the contraception policy debate isn’t precipitating the kind of online outrage that prompted the Komen about-face on funding breast cancer  screening by Planned Parenthood. Schroeder said that’s because women don’t, at the moment, perceive this debate as a threat. “You aren’t hearing women’s voices now because they know they are winning,” she said.

But if the current starts to run against them, Schroeder predicted, voices will be heard. And votes will be cast.


By: Joanne Kenen, Politico (Contribution by J. Lester Feder), February 18, 2012



February 21, 2012 Posted by | Birth Control, Women's Health | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Unappealing Candidates”: Sorry, Republicans, Your Savior Won’t Come

In Politico’s Playbook on Saturday Mike Allen reported that elite Republicans are still fantasizing about a superhero who will swoop in to free them from the limitations of their current crop of contenders [the all-capitalized phrases are Allen’s]:

A tippy-top Republican, unprompted, yesterday sketched the germ of a plan for a new candidate if Rick Santorum upsets Mitt Romney in the Michigan primary on Feb. 28. Our friend brought visual aids: chicken-scratched versions of prosaic documents that are circulating among GOP insiders like nuclear-code sheets…. The point: even after Feb. 28, it might be possible to assemble a Hail Mary candidacy that could garner enough delegates to force a CONTESTED convention….

At that very moment, ABC’S Jonathan Karl was at the Capitol, having a conversation that resulted in this Richter-rattler: “A prominent Republican senator just told me that if Romney can’t win in Michigan, the Republican Party needs to go back to the drawing board and convince somebody new to get into the race. ‘If Romney cannot win Michigan, we need a new candidate,’ said the senator…. “Santorum? ‘He’d lose 35 states,’ the senator said, predicting the same fate for Newt Gingrich. It would have to be somebody else, the senator said.  Who? ‘Jeb Bush.’ ”

This is silly because no candidate exists who would be simultaneously more acceptable to the Republican base and independents than both Romney and Santorum. And if he did, he’d be a fool to sign on for this unpleasant adventure.

The candidates whose names are being tossed out as options—Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush—have plenty of potential liabilities. Daniels has been fined for drug possession. His marital history is complicated, although at least on the surface it’s much more sympathetic than, say, Newt Gingrich’s. He also was director of the Office of Management and Budget back when George W. Bush was running up the budget deficit, something Republicans claim to have been upset by at the time, although we know they are lying. Perhaps, like having supported an individual mandate in healthcare reform, it could become an ex post facto disqualification.

Chris Christie, who has already endorsed Romney, has taken a stance against Islamophobia, a position that offends many conservatives. Meanwhile, his angry, abrasive shtick might play badly among soccer mom swing voters.

Jeb Bush is the brother of former President George W. Bush. I don’t think that point requires further illumination.

And what would be their incentive for getting in the race? To have their histories pored over, to spend days raising money and rushing to put together a campaign only to risk embarrassment? Since it’s no longer possible for a new entrant to win the nomination outright, the reward would merely be winning enough delegates to force a fight at the convention. If these candidates couldn’t be persuaded to accept the hassles of a Republican primary when it was winnable, why would any of them do so now?

Republicans should come to grips with the fact that the nominee is going to be one of the remaining, unappealing candidates.


By: Ben Adler, The Nation, February 20, 2012

February 21, 2012 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Of “Phony Theology”: The Conservative Intra-Christian War

As Adele Stan noted in this space yesterday, Rick Santorum reached a new summit Saturday in his efforts to paint the president and “liberals” generally as secularist enemies of Christianity. In a speech at a luncheon sponsored by the Ohio Christian Alliance (successor to the Ohio branch of the Christian Coalition), Santorum used an interesting phrase to describe Obama’s belief-system:

Obama’s agenda is “not about you. It’s not about your quality of life. It’s not about your jobs. It’s about some phony ideal. Some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible. A different theology,” Santorum told supporters of the conservative Tea Party movement at a Columbus hotel.

Some observers immediately connected these comments to the widespread myth among Obama-haters that the president is actually a Muslim.

Thus, when Santorum, under questioning about these remarks, said “If the president says he’s a Christian, he’s a Christian,” it probably looked to some as though he was backing down a bit from the thrust of his attacks.

I don’t think so.

As I noted in a post last week that has drawn some fire from conservative bloggers, Santorum is on record identifying with the fairly common fundamentalist belief (shared by some “traditionalist” Catholics and even by secular commentators) that mainline or “liberal” Protestants have largely abandoned Christianity for man-made idols.  To use Santorum’s own phrase for Obama, many conservative Christians think mainliners maintain a theology that is “not a theology based on the Bible,” but on the nefarious beliefs of such neo-pagans as the “radical environmentalists” who don’t understand God gave dominion over nature to man for his enjoyment and exploitation.

In other words, Santorum’s dog-whistle is aimed not so much at people who ignorantly believe Obama is a secret Muslim, but at people who look at Episcopalians and Presbyterians and Methodists and Congregationalists (Obama’s own denominational background) and see infidels who don’t understand that “true” Christianity requires hard-core opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage, or for that matter, environmentalism, feminism, and other departures from nineteenth century American mores.  Indeed, in the 2008 Ave Maria University speech I wrote about the other day, Santorum described mainline Protestants as people who had, sadly, gone over to the enemy camp in a “spiritual war” between God and Satan.

As a Roman Catholic, of course, Rick Santorum doesn’t follow a theology that is based strictly on the Bible, either, but on centuries of (selectively applied) Church teachings that happen to coincide with those of conservative evangelical Protestants. Catholic “traditionalists” are engaged in their own parallel war with “liberal Catholics” whom they accuse of “betraying” their Church by supporting legalized contraception and/or abortion or same-sex marriage or the ordination of women.

The political alliance of Protestant fundamentalists and Catholic “traditionalists” has become a familiar part of the landscape in this country, odd as it may seem to old-timers who remember the conservative Protestant hostility to JFK’s presidential candidacy on grounds that no Catholic could conscientiously support strict separation of church and state (a position conservative evangelicals have themselves now emphatically abandoned.)  But it’s important to understand that all the thundering about “secularism” we hear from the religio-political Right these days represents in no small part an intra-Christian civil war by conservatives on those in every faith tradition who do not accept their elevation of “traditional” cultural values to the level of religious absolutes.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, February 20, 2012

February 21, 2012 Posted by | Religion | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Low, Even For A “Culture Warrior”: Why Would A Politician Attack Pre-Natal Testing?

Over the last few years, there’s been no shortage of attacks from the right against the Affordable Care Act, but going after provisions related to pre-natal testing appears to be a new one.

Rick Santorum accused President Obama of requiring free prenatal testing in the health care plan he signed in 2010 because it would detect if children were disabled, encourage more abortions and save money.

“One of the things that you don’t know about ObamaCare in one of the mandates is they require free prenatal testing,” Santorum began telling about 400 people here. “Why? Because free prenatal testing ends up in more abortions and, therefore, less care that has to be done, because we cull the ranks of the disabled in our society. That too is part of ObamaCare — another hidden message as to what president Obama thinks of those who are less able than the elites who want to govern our country.”

CBS’s Bob Schieffer pressed Santorum on this point yesterday, saying, “You sound like you’re saying that the purpose of pre-natal care is to cause people to have abortions.” The Republican presidential hopeful didn’t back down, arguing, “[A] lot of pre-natal tests are done to identify deformities in utero and the customary procedure is to encourage abortions.”

Even for Santorum, this is low.

For one thing, medical experts know Santorum’s line is nonsense. As MSNBC’s First Read explained, “There is value in pre-natal testing, because it can detect potential problems in utero or at delivery and allow parents and doctors to get the proper care for their child.”

For another, trying to turn pre-natal care into yet another culture-war battle is ridiculous. University of Chicago professor Harold Pollack, an expert in health policy, added, “Santorum’s comments are only made uglier by their utter lack of foundation. There is no evidence whatsoever that liberals — let alone President Obama — are less solicitious or caring about the disabled than other Americans. I’ve never heard any liberal health policy wonk promote genetic technologies to ‘cull the ranks of the disabled’ or as part of any cost-cutting plan. That ugly meme is completely made up. By any reasonable measure, the proliferation of genetic diagnostic technologies coincides with great progress in public acceptance and support for people with disabilities.”


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, February 20, 2012

February 21, 2012 Posted by | Abortion, Affordable Care Act | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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