You might expect a battle for women’s rights to take place in Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia, or some other faraway land. But certainly not in America.
After all, a century or more has come and gone since Suffragettes chained themselves to the railings in Congress and won the right to vote (photo above). It’s been nearly half a century since feminists burned their bras. And it’s been 39 years since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that women have the right to decide if and when they want to bear children.
It seemed that the battle was pretty much over: Women had finally won the right to be people – people enough to vote, people enough to own property, people enough to own their bodies.
Out of nowhere has come a crusade to turn back the clock.
Across America, legislative proposals have popped up like mushrooms in a massive assault on women’s independence. The proposals range from subjecting women to compulsory trans-vaginal probes as a precondition of abortion to denying them birth control as part of their health insurance. And several Republican controlled legislatures have actually passed laws to force women to undergo ultrasound examinations in order to get an abortion.
In Arizona, the Republican run legislature seems about to pass a law that would let employers fire an employee who used insurance-provided birth control without a doctor’s prescription stating it was required for medical reasons (not for protection against pregnancy). I understand it’s based on a template provided by a Koch brothers group and that other states are contemplating similar legislation.
Meanwhile, Puritanical rhetoric and sexual name calling has intensified. Radio demagogue Rush Limbaugh launched a virulent assault on women, slandering a young law student who dared to speak out against the attempt to deny female employees insurance coverage for birth control, describing femistis as “feminazis,” and cooking up preposterous conspiracy stories to explain why advertisers were fleeing his show.
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has also come out against birth control, blaming it for the sexual depravity he sees in modern America and advocating abstinence to preserve”the family,” which he regards as the foundation of American society.
It’s no wonder many American women feel they are under attack and are fightng back. They’re taking to the streets and they’re asking us to join them.