Women’s rights. It’s such a basic issue. Maybe we’re spoiled, as American women, when we hear about those in the Middle East, but women in this country have been making strides since the 60’s. Until now.
I should know. I proudly wore an ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) bracelet (the amendment failed to pass; I still have the bracelet) and spearheaded a 1979 drive to gain recognition for my teachers’ union, a union that had existed since 1962 but which the school board refused to recognize. We got the job done…although it was difficult and required petitions and marching in the streets and sacrifice. Lots of sacrifice, on my part, anyway.
And now, here we are, watching the unions being attacked in many states (8 in the Midwest, at last count) and, more importantly, watching an attack on women’s rights in the U.S. I hope my 23-year-old daughter is reading this and getting some of her mother’s activist spirit, because here’s what’s happening.
In South Dakota, according to the February 15, 2011 “Salon”, there is a bill that would legalize killing abortion doctors. The Center for American Progress (January 20, 2011) announced that an “extreme abortion coverage ban” has been introduced. Another new bill would allow hospitals to let women die, instead of providing them with an abortion. (http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/, February 4, 2011). I suggest these people read John Irving’s “Cider House Rules” and find out the truth about how legalized abortion helped keep women from dying. It was written by a man whose father and grandfather were physicians. Hopefully, you Tea Party folk have heard of him? John Irving? Greatest living author of his generation? No? I didn’t think so.
Rape is being re-defined under the new Republican leadership, and only “forcible rape” would qualify in the bill restricting abortion funding. (The Huffington Post, February 9, 2011). What about the young girl who is abused by her pedophile father? Would she know enough to fight like hell? She, apparently, would get no help if she were impregnated in such a manner. And, Folks, it happens. More often than we want to think about. In Georgia, state lawmakers are redefining rape victims as “accusers” (http://www.thehuffingtonpost.com/, February 4, 2011).
According to www.CheatSheet.com, 240 of 241 House Republicans voted to strip Planned Parenthood, the nation’s leading provider of reproductive health care, of government funding. At the same time, a bill to allow birth control for horses was proposed (http://www.blogforchoice/, Feb. 17, 2011). So, horses, yes. Women, no. Also, the Wall Street Journal reported on February 9, 2011 that the GOP spending plan is “X-ing out Title X Family Planning Funds.”
HEAD START FUNDING
Republicans cut Head Start funding. They said women should be married and stay home with kids. (http://www.thinkprogress.org/2011/02/16/gop-women-kids). This turns the clock back on progress at least 40 years. I couldn’t become a lawyer, I was told. Only men could become lawyers. Unfortunately, my parents believed that, and so did I. Got as far as taking the LSAT, only one of two women in a room of 200 test-takers, but no support from home, boyfriends or anyone else, so a slow start out of the gate for Yours Truly. “Better to just get your Master’s in English,” said the home team. My mother, a kindergarten teacher for 40 years who fought long and hard to gain a Head Start program for Independence, Iowa, is probably spinning in her grave right about now. And I’m positive that my father, a banker in “the old days” who founded a bank in 1941 would be appalled at that occupation and what has happened to the family farms he used to appraise.
YOUNG WOMEN: UNITE! YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE BUT YOUR RIGHTS!
Here are a few more articles you might want to check out if you’re female and under 30. We senior citizens fought and fought hard to make the gains for young women that now exist. Suffragettes of an earlier day endured even more to gain women the right to vote. Young women of today: wake up and read some of what’s going on under your noses, or your rights could disappear in the wake of the Tea Party Tyranny.
Additional links: “House GOP Proposes Cuts to Scores of Sacred Cows,” National Journal, February 9, 2011. (http://www.moveon.org/r?r=206103&id=26177-4657655-Ru7zewx&t=10).
“Bye Bye, Big Bird (assault on “Sesame Street,” for Pete’s Sake!) Hello, E. Coli,” “The New Republic of February 12, 2011 (http://www.moveon.org/r?r=206104&id=26177-4657655-Ru7zewx&t=12).
“House GOP spending cuts will devastate women, families and economy,” “The Hill,” February 16, 2011 (http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/economy-a-budget/144585-house-gop-spending-cuts-will-devastate-women-families-and-economy).