Saturday, August 25, 2012

Women's Equality Day 2012

by Mary Griggs

All year, religious extremists have been waging a relentless war against women. The right of women to sovereignty over their bodies has been undermined by personhood bills, attempts to criminalize miscarriages, bills legislating state sponsored rape through transvaginal ultrasounds and judicial decisions allowing doctors to lie to women about the health of the fetus and about an increased suicide risk from terminating her pregnancy.

Further, the Republican Party has repeatedly obstructed the reauthorization of 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.

Worse, the onerous Ryan Budget, which would have converted Medicare to a private voucher system, Medicaid to a block grant program, as well as cut Social Security benefits and slashed a range of social programs (including family planning, after-school programs, tuition assistance, etc), passed the House. All of the programs to be cut, disproportionately serve women and those programs disproportionately employ women, too, as teachers, nurses, health care workers, childcare providers, and social workers.

Here, at the 92nd anniversary of women’s suffrage in the United States, we need to mount an aggressive campaign of education and engagement to ensure that progressive women, whether they be registered as Democrat, Republican or Independent get out and vote.

There is a lot at stake for women in November. Until this past week, when Todd Akin made his infamous statement regarding ‘legitimate’ rape and miracle vagina secretions that attack rapist sperm, it looked very likely that the Republicans could gain control of the Senate.

Should the Senate go red, look for a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and attacks on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and family planning clinics. Even more disturbing would be passage of a federal law that recognizes personhood at the point of conception, turning abortion, most birth control, and most fertility treatments (including IVF), into murder.

A Romney/Ryan presidential ticket, with their extremist anti-abortion beliefs (Ryan cosponsored a bill to restrict all abortions except in instances of “an act of forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incest” while Romney accepts exceptions for rape, incest and the health and life of the mother) will put them in the position to able to sign into law every crazy piece of anti-choice legislation Congress sends their way.

In stark contrast to their opposition to women’s equality would be the reelection of Obama/Biden and their entirely different vision of America. They have consistently advocated for equal rights for all Americans. As President Obama said in the proclamation issued for Women’s Equality Day 2012:

“That is why I have made supporting the needs and aspirations of women and girls a top priority for my Administration. From signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law and creating the White House Council on Women and Girls to combating sexual assault and promoting women's economic and political empowerment at home and abroad, we have worked to ensure women have the opportunities they need and deserve at every stage of their lives. As women around the world continue to fight for their seat at the table, my Administration will keep their interests at the core of our policy decisions.”

The decision is in our hands. We must vote as if our lives depend on it. Because they do!

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