Sexual Politics

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Anne of Carversville & Sensuality News do not accept submissions.

« 'Feminism' Defined Beyond Belief | Main | Enjoying A Bit of Kinky Sex Is Part of Nicole Kidman's Career Path »

Abortion Rights and Women's Right to Speak in Congress Silenced in Health Care Horse Trading

Women with a legal and legitimate right to speak were prevented from doing so in the US House of Representatives yesterday.

Stupak AmendmentIn trying to make every aspect of women’s health a key plank in the health care bill that narrowly passed the House late last night, women’s voices were silenced.

At the 11th hour, the very possibility of federally-supported, legal abortion rights were sacrificed, in order not derail health care reform in America.

Concerned lawmakers and Catholic clergy insisted that a public health care plan not include the legal rights of women.

In 1976 Congress passed the Hyde Amendment which barred the use of federal funds to pay for abortions through funds allocated by the annual appropriations bill for Health and Human Services.

The Hyde Amendment must be renewed annually. It was the spirit of the Hyde Amendment that governed final negotiations about the House health care bill.

I admit that I don’t take kindly to Republican men drowning out women, trying to speak on the topic of women’s health.

It must be noted that the amendment restricting abortion funding was introduced by Representative Bart Stupak, a Democrat of Michigan and one of many Democrats opposed to abortion and the legal rights of American women.

Republicans Ban Democratic Women From Speaking

On Saturday morning, a group of House Republicans — led by Rep. Tom Price (R-Georgia) — attempted to stop the Democratic Women’s Caucus from making their arguments about how the health bill should benefit women. Like Jim Wilson, their tactic involved a shout down.

Every American woman should focus — not on the issue of abortion — but on the silencing of women that occurred yesterday morning, as part of the horse trading that went on to pass health care reform in the House of Representatives.

Realistically, there’s not enough woman woman-power in Congress to take on the US Council of Bishops. My focus is the procedural silencing of women and the arrogance of men who do it. Women have a right to make their positions a matter of public record in Congress.

Republicans believe in free agent Americans. Their vision of a great America is one that’s as unfettered and ambitious as possible. It’s a gunslinger paternalism that runs deep in American history and is often above the law.

He who best mounts a principled, values-driven strategy prevails above the law and more moderate voices.

There is no sense of protecting legal women’s rights. The men will decide what’s best for women. In the matter of health care, the US Council of Bishops will decide how health care rights apply to women’s legal rights in America.

Because America doesn’t elect women politicians in significant numbers — unlike Europe and many other nations of the world — American women are dependent on men to made the best decisions for us, whether they are elected officials or the heads of our largest religious community.

Many ‘feminist’ groups support this idea of gender equality, believing that progressive men can make decisions on women’s behalf, as well as women.

The strongest women’s groups don’t support what could be called a quota system of women representing women citizens. Other countries of the world, including most European nations and also South Africa, have determined that it’s the way to get women elected to office.

It can be safely said that having women in elected offices hasn’t destroyed any nations of the world, at least not yet.

The World Economic Forum’s recent report on global gender equity saw America slide into 31 place, behind Cuba, and hold an embarrassing 61 spot in political representation.

Let me repeat: American women rank 61 globally in political participation and representation.

The realities of political life confirm my view that women’s rights will always be horse traded away, which is why women must run and be elected to public office. With the passage of the Stupak amendment, the US Council of Bishops already weighed in this morning, now supporting the health-care bill.

Here’s the details of the vote that set back an American woman’s right to a safe abortion in a secure, healthy medical facility.

As we speak, men are shouting down women all around the world from Sudan to Washington, DC. 

The global rise of deeply conservative, patriarchal values against women, in particular with contemporary, fundamentalist Islam, but with other key religions and ideologies as well, threatens women’s futures.

Fundamentalism and paternalism exist in America, too. The need to shut women up — very obvious in Congress yesterday —  isn’t only a trait in the Middle East, Africa or Asia. It flourishes in the United States.

This fundamentalist movement is one millions of men in the world don’t support. These men, living in America, Egypt, Australia, Sweden and everywhere, watch the videos and have the same reaction that I’m expressing.

Based on private messages sent to me, there are days when I believe that moderate men globally are more concerned about women’s rights than American women are.

For many Democratic American women, I say: you get what you sow.

We must not blame men alone for what happened yesterday. We embrace and have created this political system, one in which major numbers of Democratic men voted against women’s rights.

According to the most recent Pew Research poll, only 15% of Americans consider a woman’s right to a medically-safe abortion an important issue in America. Women don’t care about abortion rights, believing them to be secure.

There is every possibility that abortion rights will eventually be taken away in America, and the cycle of women having to march to earn their rights will start all over again.

Writer and feminist activist Gloria Steinem spoke at Appalachia State University in Feb. 2008.The laws of civilization operate this way. Passionate principles prevail.

Simply stated, patriarchal men are more committed to controlling women’s bodies, than women are to liberating them.

I am also old enough to have worked with the Clergy Consultation Service, a group of 26 ministers and a rabbi, who became more than a thousand clergymen of every faith in America, pre Roe v. Wade Supreme Court Decision.

In the Woodstock years, American women died, having illegal, back alley, coat hanger abortions.

In response to reality in the late 1960s, a few Catholic priests but mostly Episcopalian, Presbyterian and Methodist clergy actually transported pregnant women across state lines, organizing abortions by doctors willing to perform them. Both the woman and her doctor were much more unlikely to get arrested, once she crossed state lines.

Let me be clear that I am not an abortion advocate. I wish for a world where women have access to affordable birth control and are able to control their own fertility, making responsible decisions, choosing sexual partners and times to have a baby.

That is not the world we live in. Bishops don’t support birth control and neither do other religions, governments, and customs around the world.

Women’s rights remains associated with progresssive thinking about women’s lives, not the fundamental rights that women have as human beings. Fundamentally, women have only the rights that men decide to give them. Perhaps it’s time to go back to feminism 101.

Progressive thinking about gender equality has a long way to go in America. First and foremost, younger women must believe they have rights worth protecting. And American women must see the advantage of having Democratic women who value and promise to protect the law of the land.

You saw not only Southern Democrats sell women down the river yesterday. The revolt was led by a Northern Democrat. Simply stated, the patriarchy prevailed. Let’s call the event for what it was. Anne


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