WOMEN STILL FIGHTING FOR RIGHTS, EVEN IN 2012
Originally posted on http://www.meramecmontage.com on March 29, 2012
Prostitute! Slut! This year’s celebration of March as Women’s History month started early and with a bang. In late February, Rush Limbaugh, a radio personality, went on a three-day rant about a Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke when he named her the aforementioned terms. Fluke earned those honorary titles, courtesy of Limbaugh, when she testified at a congressional hearing advocating for employers’ coverage of birth control in their health insurance plans.
About a week later the celebration continued. In the first days of March, Georgia State representative Terry England had something to say about women’s reproductive rights. The hearing was about the law that would prohibit abortion after 20 weeks of gestation, even if a woman were carrying a dying or dead fetus, until she goes into natural labor. England defended this law by saying that when working on a farm he had delivered pigs and calves, dead and alive. “It breaks our hearts to see those animals not make it,” England said.
Comparing women to pigs and cows is not where the celebration ended. In mid-March, when Women’s History month was in full swing, Arizona House voted on a bill that would allow employers to reject coverage of hormonal contraceptives in their health insurance plans if offering those contraceptives conflicted with the employers’ religious beliefs. But if employees can offer proof that the use of hormonal contraceptives is for uses other than birth control then employers may consider covering it.
Virginia, along with 11 other states, is currently considering requiring women to undergo transvaginal ultrasound prior to abortion by means of a condom-covered 6- to 8-inch device. Forcing women into involuntary vaginal penetration sounds a lot like rape. A little over a year ago, Bei Bei Shuai, a restaurant owner, attempted suicide. There was a caveat: at the time of her suicide, Shuai was eight months pregnant, and three days after the caesarean delivery, her baby, Angel, died. A suicide attempt is not a crime. Moreover, anyone attempting suicide is placed under psychiatric watch. Nevertheless, for the past year, Shuai finds herself in jail. Her crime is an attempted feticide and murder. This charge is problematic on many levels. The most important one is that a pregnant woman is punished for her behavior during pregnancy. According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, up to 25 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage. That means a woman can be held liable for that miscarriage if one is to look hard enough.
What all of the above have in common is they are an attack on women’s rights; not only reproductive rights but the fundamental rights to their bodies and their basic rights to choices in general. Women should not have to defend these rights in the 21st century. In 2012, these freedoms should no longer be up for debates and votes.
So this March it is unclear exactly what the country is celebrating. It seems more like lip service to an idea than the true respect of women’s achievements and contributions to society. Nothing more.