Friday, March 23, 2012

Left Side of the Aisle #49 - Part 1

The on-going war on women's choices

A few dispatches from the ongoing war on women and their freedoms of choice.

On the Forrest Gump "stupid is as stupid does" front, there is Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas. He favors allowing religiously-associated institutions - not religious institutions, but religiously-associated institutions such as Catholic schools and hospitals - to deny their employees access to birth control as part of their health insurance. Faced with the question of the women employees who work at such places who want or need such coverage, he had a simple answer: Find a new job.

Actually, Governor, the only one here who needs a new job is you.

Next, on the "picture them wearing a bulls-eye" front, a new bill is moving through the Tennessee House of Representatives that would require the state to obtain and publish the name of each doctor who performs an abortion and the location of where it was done - along with, get this, the age, race, county of residence, marital status, education level, and number of children of the woman patient, plus how many times she has been pregnant.

The chief sponsor of the bill says the only purpose is for everyone on both sides to learn just how prevalent abortion is - and if any doctor or woman is harassed or even murdered, well, that of course would have nothing to do with him, of course not! It never does with these people.*

On yet another front, the Idaho state Senate has passed one of those idiotic ultrasound bills, the ones that are based on the premise that a pregnant woman who wants to terminate the pregnancy just doesn't understand what being pregnant means - has to have it explained to her. And if after having this ultrasound, the woman still wants to end her pregnancy, she has to have a second ultrasound.

But don't worry about the cost: The state will maintain a list of sites where women can get free ultrasounds - a list consisting entirely of so-call "pregnancy counseling centers," which are just fronts for rabidly anti-abortion group.

In the course of the debate on the measure, Sen. Chuck Winder, the assistant majority leader, noted that there are no exemptions even in the case of medical emergencies, rape, or incest. He defended that, saying
I would hope that when a woman goes into a physician, with a rape issue, that that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage, or was it truly caused by a rape.
Oh but no, he didn't mean that women would lie to get an abortion, oh no, the thought never crossed his mind! No, it's just that you need to ask about this sort of stuff. If you're a doctor and a woman comes to you and says she's been raped, you need to cross-examine her about her sex life to see if any "normal relations" were involved.

God, these people are creepy.

But I'm going to go beyond stupid, bloodthirsty, and creepy to outright horrifying. I have to say that, again, this is not new but I just learned of it recently.

A woman named Bei Bei Shuai has now been in jail in Marion County, Indiana, for just over a year.

This started in December 2010. Shuai was 8 months pregnant. That's when her boyfriend told her that he was already married to someone else and had another family, to which he was returning. She begged him to stay, but he threw some money at her and left her on her knees, alone, crying, in a parking lot.

She was utterly distraught. She was in despair. So she tried to commit suicide by swallowing rat poison. Friends found her and got her to the hospital just in time. To give the fetus the best chance of survival, it was delivered by Caesarean section. Unhappily, the child, named Angel, died four days later of a cerebral hemorrhage.

Three months later, she was charged with the deliberate murder of the fetus. If convicted, she faces forty-five to sixty-five years in prison.

Indiana is just one of at least 38 states that have enacted so-called “unborn victims of violence” laws. These laws were sold as protection of women from abusive partners. They say, in essence, that in cases such as assault and homicide that the fetus (in some cases, even the zygote) is a separate person and so harm to the fetus is a separate crime from harm to the women.

But, as many opponents predicted at the time, the main targets of enforcement of these laws have not been abusive partners but pregnant women. Hundreds of pregnant women have been brought up on charges under these laws with claims that something they did or didn't do caused harm to the fetus.

But this also raises something else. This - all this - is not new. So why the push now? I noted last week that over 1000 anti-abortion rights measures were introduced in state legislatures in 2011. Of those, something over 13% passed. Why this big push?

I say it is similar to the earlier push several years ago to get states to amend their constitutions to define marriage as one man and one woman: They knew they were losing. They knew they were on the wrong side of history. It's the same here. They know they are losing. They know in the long run they will lose. They know that at some point the tide will turn and they will be ground up and washed away with the rest of the detritus. And they are just trying to do as much damage as possible before that happens.


*See Rule #12.

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