We are Woman. We Will Vote
A thoughtful look at state and national events of the past several months. These events have all centered on womens’ health care, contraceptives and the efforts of state and national legislators to wrest health care decisions from women "for their own good."
One Republican presidential candidate has equated the children of single mothers to "delinquents." Other "politicians" have decided that it’s best for battered women not to file for divorce from abusive spouses – instead, these women should "remember the good times" because becoming single parents "is a risk factor for child abuse."
This article also looks at efforts to link single parenthood to child abuse and delinquent children.
Contraception and Birth Control
I have been hearing and reading an ominous and growing trend that threatens to take away a woman’s right to confer with her doctor and make the healthcare decisions they both feel must be made. Be it a prescription for contraception to address a medical condition or undergoing an abortion because continuing a pregnancy could exacerbate a medical condition, “politicians” in Washington, D.C. have developed the attitude that they know better than we do – we, who live every day with the conditions in question.
Several state legislatures (Texas and Kansas among them) have written and voted on bills that presume to say that pregnant women who are contemplating abortions because of detected birth defects in the fetuses “will undergo mandatory waiting periods, descriptions of their baby’s appearances on the ultrasound screens and be ‘educated’ regarding their rights about child support and adoption” – all before they undergo the surgery “because the politicians know better than those women.” In Kansas, legislators are debating an anti-abortion bill that, if passed, would allow doctors to withhold needed medical information from their patients in an effort to prevent abortions. These doctors would be shielded from malpractice lawsuits under a provision of this “bill.” The New Hampshire state House has passed a bill that, if passed, would allow employers to stop providing insurance coverage for contraceptives.
Arizona is contemplating a new bill that would require women to respond to their employers’ requests for information about just why they are using birth control. This is because the legislators don’t want to require employers to foot a part of the bill for prescribed birth control if it is used solely to prevent pregnancy. *Raises hand in the air* What ever happened to doctor-patient confidentiality? Why is it some employer’s right to know whether his employees are taking birth control to control abnormal bleeding, treat acne – or prevent pregnancy because a pregnancy could exacerbate a known medical condition? If Gov. Brewer signs this law, wouldn’t it violate the federal HIPPA law?
Wellllllll – I am a woman. A woman who can think for myself, discuss any medical conditions I have in detail with my doctor - and, I can discuss the best, most appropriate treatments possible with her (yes, my doctor is a woman, too). I can also log onto Google and (gasp!) research said condition and treatment.
The thought! These politicians must be having heart palpitations at the thought that we “little women,” who are thinking for, and studying for ourselves, “shouldn’t be troubling our pretty little heads.”
I have been going onto some of these politicians’ Facebook pages and reading response after response from some of these women. The women are asking these “intellectually gifted” MEN just how they should deal with their body parts “down there;” what feminine products should they be using, because, gosh, Senators, you just know everything! *Eyelash flutter* Other women have been giving some very specific details about their cycles and monthly feminine symptoms.
All of these women have been doing so to make a very sarcastic point – because they have been living with their monthly cycles from the beginning of adolescence to the present day, they have presumably gotten to know their bodies and how their cycles progress. When they become pregnant, they know what to expect – because, you know, it’s likely that they’ve gone through it in the past.
So, why, all of a sudden, do these MEN think they know more than we do? Representative Darrell Issa held a hearing about the funding of contraceptives and all of the witnesses were WHITE MEN. Not a single woman was on the panel. Well, *eye flutter* these MEN must know so much more than we little women could evah hope to stuff into our pretty little heads.
News flash: Not all contraceptives are used to prevent pregnancy. Some are used to treat known medical conditions, such as extreme menstrual cramping, premenstrual syndrome and dysfunctional uterine bleeding (shortened to “DUB”). Oh, and, yes – married couples and couples in committed monogamous relationships might, you know, want to make love – as an expression of their feelings for each other – without the risk of pregnancy, for whatever reason.
Other married couples find that they must rely on some form of contraception because pregnancy would be too risky for the health or life of the wife – would these politicians rather become the indirect instrument of that wife’s death, thereby causing her husband to become a widower and their children to lose the love and guidance of their mother? Who appointed them the arbiters of fate? We vote them into office and we are their bosses. We can just as easily vote them OUT of office!
I received permission from one of my writing colleagues. Colleen and I were chatting and she said, “We fricken give birth to 100 percent of all the children in the States . . . when is OUR voice going to be heard?”
In today’s New York Times (3/17/12), columnist Gail Collins wrote the opinion piece, “Politicians Swinging Stethoscopes.” Collins detailed another New Hampshire state House bill that requires women who wish to undergo an abortion to be informed that abortions are “linked to ‘an increased risk of breast cancer.’ ” What?? Collins points out that Representative Terie Norelli, the House minority leader, says that the Legislature is trying to make it a felony for a doctor to “not give a patient inaccurate information.”
Collins wrote about another anti-abortion bill in another state – South Dakota. The state has only one abortion provider. South Dakota has mandated a 72-hour waiting period, meaning that women must travel long distances and stay overnight and experience a lecture at one of the anti-abortion pregnancy counseling centers. There’s more: Legislators are now wanting to require these women to endure questions about their religious backgrounds and about how their families might react to their decisions to end their pregnancies.
Sanctimonious Santorum and Other Politicians
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has been flying all over the country, speaking his opinions on American families. He has pontificated far and wide about contraception, single parenthood (usually focusing on the moms) and their children, erm, “delinquents.” Here’s what I have found – I have to thank a writing colleague who pointed this out to me - thank you, Jessica.
During Santorum’s 1994 campaign for the U.S. Senate, he said that “single mothers [breed] more criminals and are the catalyst for the downfall of our nation.” Mother Jones magazine obtained a set of transcripts from a Pennsylvania town hall meeting at which Santorum was present. Here is what he said: “Most people agree a continuation of the current welfare system will be the ruination of this country. We are seeing it. We are seeing the fabric of this country fall apart, and it’s falling apart because of single moms.” (I added italics for emphasis) Sanctimonious Santorum went on further to say that “single moms need politicians who are unafraid to ‘kick them in the butt.’ “
One month later, ol’ Sanctimonious brought up welfare reform, calling it a “possible security problem” – His statement: “What we have is moms raising children in single-parent households simply breeding more criminals.” (I added the italics for emphasis)
Last year, Sanctimonious said that the “base” of the Democratic party is “single mothers who run a household . . . because it’s so tough economically that they look to the government for help and therefore they’re going to vote.” (Again, I added italics for emphasis)
Here’s the gem coming from Sanctimonious Santorum’s golden mouth: “Single mothers will intentionally avoid marriage to collect welfare benefits.”
Hmmm. I’m a single mother of some 13 years’ duration. My “delinquents” are adult males. One has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering with a supplemental math major. He’s a first lieutenant in the U. S. Army and served for several months in Iraq just before the U.S. withdrawal. Wow. What a delinquent he is. I’m so scared. My second “delinquent” is a college freshman who plans to major in music education. He’s a mariachi violinist and vocalist. Geez. My heart’s thumping in fear.
You think these millions of “delinquents” might have a case for suing Sanctimonious Santorum for defamation of character? I, along with tens of thousands of other single mothers, successfully raised our children, taking them to sports and music practices, supervising homework sessions, helping them with spelling and math, taking them to church and youth group meetings, setting and enforcing curfews, disciplining them when they did wrong, celebrating birthdays, sacrificing on buying clothing for ourselves because our children are growing and needed the clothing more . . . shall I go on? Yes, I think I will. We took them to the doctor, dentist and orthodontist when they needed medical, dental and orthodontic care. We met with the teachers on Parent-Teacher Conference nights. We worried when the old-enough-to-drive kids went out with the car to first jobs, dates, school and Prom, hoping that what we had worked so hard to instill in them would bring them home, safe, sound and in one piece. While our ex-husbands participated from a distance, it was we who were there on the front lines, interacting with our little “delinquents,” all the way through high school graduation and into college.
Santorum has missed the mark by a huge distance on this. I know several other single mothers – and they gladly sacrificed sleep and money for themselves so they could ensure that their children were growing up and learning good ethics and morals. Yes, there are some out there who can’t (or won’t) make the connection between sleeping with a man and getting pregnant, then being adult or responsible enough to raise the result to productive, good citizen adulthood. They have poisoned the barrel of apples and tainted all of us with a poor reputation.
Let’s not forget the Wisconsin Republican lawmakers – Donald Pridemore and Glenn Grothman – who have co-sponsored a bill in the Wisconsin legislature that would mandate the Child Abuse Prevention Board to sponsor and conduct public awareness campaigns that emphasize that “single parenthood is a leading cause of child abuse.”
Pridemore has stated that he’s against divorce (but not, apparently, against spousal abuse) “under all circumstances” – even domestic abuse. His advice to the women who are being slammed into walls, having their eyes blackened, arms and skulls broken? “Remember the good times, back before things took an abusive turn, and maybe you’ll fall in love again. (I added italics for emphasis)
Pridemore overlooks several scary facets of domestic violence:
√ The abuser acts out of a need for power and control – not love
√ Abusers subconsciously *plan* abusive incidents, fantasizing how they are going to set their spouses up
√ Abusers blame their spouses, saying, “If you had only had supper ready when I walked in the door; if you had only made what you “knew” I wanted to eat; if you had only kept your mouth out of it . . . and on and on, ad nauseam
√ Abuse incidents become progressively worse and worse until the spouse (and possibly the children in the marriage) are severely injured or killed
√ Men can also be the victims of spousal abuse
√ Child protective services workers regard domestic violence to be a form of child abuse. (I’m a former CPS social worker.)
Remember the title of this article? “We Are Woman – We Will Vote.” Women have been raising their heads and sensing a change in the political air over the past several months. We are conferring amongst ourselves, asking, “Why are they trying to return us, against our wills, to the 1950s? From Texas, Kansas and Wisconsin, to Georgia, New Hampshire and Arizona, Republican legislators are banding together and assuming they know what’s better for us than we do. I call bullshit. I know my body; I’ve done the research, read the literature and talked to my doctors. I know what is best for me and why. Why this is happening now and in these numbers, we don’t know – but we do vote. Beginning now, we all need to let our state and national leaders know that we will not stand for MEN who know jack-all about the female reproductive system, making the decisions that are ours to make.
On the one hand, they want women to take the responsibility for ensuring a pregnancy does not occur – with birth control. Or they do not want to use condoms because it reduces sensation. On the other hand, there are too many of these MEN coming out of the woodwork and saying that “the little women at home need us menfolk to make the decisions for you.”
I don’t think so. I have a voting card and photo ID. I can do research or call the county clerk’s office and find out my polling place location. I can drive my car to said polling place - and vote. That’s precisely what I will be doing.
Women, I invite – no, I implore – you to do the same. It is only when we band together in huge numbers, that we will be able to deliver a loud and unmistakable message to these “politicians” – NO! YOU GET OUT OF MY VAGINA, UTERUS, MEDICINE CABINET AND BEDROOM, STOP YOUR VOYEURISM AND TAKE YOUR SCUMMY HANDS OFF MY RIGHT TO DECIDE ON MY OWN HEALTH CARE!!!! SINGLE MOTHERS ARE NOT ABUSIVE MOTHERS, NOR DO THEY RAISE CRIMINAL CHILDREN!!