Throughout mankind’s recorded history, women have been relegated to subservient roles by men who use any means necessary to maintain their supremacy. Despite the feminist movement that earned women the right to vote and gender equality in every aspect of life, women are still treated as second-rate citizens. For the past year, Republicans have ramped up their assaults on women in what is arguably a war on women, and it has as its basis religious dogmata found in the Christian bible. Republicans have assailed President Obama for allegedly waging a war on religion, but it is Republicans who are waging a religious war against women. Recent statements and rhetoric from Republicans regarding contraception should be a clarion call to women that if they want to preserve their quickly vanishing rights, they would be wise to avoid supporting any Republican.
The GOP’s newest frontrunner, Rick Santorum, is leading the religious war on women with the assistance of fundamentalists and the United States Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). In particular, Santorum’s crusade to ban contraception reveals his belief that women are incapable of deciding for themselves the important facets of personal reproductive health. For the record, all of the anti-contraception campaign has its basis the Catholic prohibition on birth control and lunatic fringe evangelicals who intend on overwhelming the population with Christian fundamentalist voters. Interestingly, although the great majority of women in America use and support contraceptives, the patriarchal misogynists who control all aspects of government have decided that they, and not women, get to make decisions about women’s health.
Santorum has made some comments that should concern every woman in America. He promised that if elected president, he will launch a campaign to preach the dangers of contraception, and signaled that states have the right to outlaw birth control. Santorum is a practicing Catholic and his crusade against contraception mimics the USCCB and Vatican ban on contraceptives. Regarding contraceptive use, Santorum said, “It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.” What Santorum did not mention was that his position on contraception is an extension of the Catholic dogma and nothing else. Santorum also said that women do not need insurance coverage for contraceptives because they are inexpensive, and that inclusion of contraception coverage is a burden on the insurance industry. A House Republican leader, Tom Price (R-GA) claimed “that “not one” woman doesn’t have access to contraception in the United States.” That is a bald-faced lie according to a Hart Research survey that said “one in three women voters struggle to afford prescription birth control, including 55 percent of young women aged 18 to 34.” Many women need birth control for necessary medical treatment and even at $55 per month, it is prohibitively expensive for many American women. The USCCB agrees with Republicans that women do not need insurance coverage for birth control and they intend on expanding their opposition to private sector employers.
Despite President Obama’s compromise in relaxing the mandate for religious institutions to include contraception coverage, the USCCB drew a line in that sand that reflects their true motives. Now the USCCB asserts that even private businesses have the right to deny insurance coverage for birth control. The GOP and USCCB’s opposition to birth control is not about religious freedom, but is an ideological religious and political issue to exempt all business from providing contraception for their female employees. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said, “It is sad that we have to stand here yet again to fight back against another overreach and intrusion into women’s lives,” and that “the power to decide whether or not each individual woman uses contraception should be with that woman – not her boss,” and certainly not Catholic bishops.
Republicans are not only assailing women over contraception, Santorum claimed women are not capable of serving in combat roles because of their emotions. He said, “I think that could be a very compromising situation where people naturally may do things that may not be in the interest of the mission because of other types of emotions that are involved.” Santorum also said that abortion is never acceptable even in cases of violent rape, and that women “have to make the best out of a bad situation by accepting the gift of human life that god has given.” Spoken like a man who will never have to experience the most violent intrusion into a woman’s life and then be connected to the violence for the rest of their life. Violence against women is something Republicans are not concerned about and they are against reauthorizing “The Violence Against Women Act” of 1994.
The act was up for reauthorization recently and not one Republican voted to renew it unless provisions in the bill are eliminated. Republicans want to throw out provisions “protecting victims who are LGBT or undocumented,” and “slash funding for enforcement, and eliminate entirely the Justice Department office devoted to administering the law and coordinating the nation’s response to domestic violence and sexual assaults. The Violence Against Women Act was reauthorized by unanimous consent in the Senate in 2005 and it demonstrates the escalation of the war on women in the recent year.
It is astounding that in 2012 there is any controversy over contraception use. The ascendance of evangelicals and USCCB coincides with Republicans’ lurching to the right to take the country into the Dark Ages and Inquisition-era where women were little more than birth machines. The Senate Republicans opposing reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act reinforces a patriarchal belief that men have the right to mistreat women with impunity, and it sheds light on their true conviction that women are not worthy of equal rights. Santorum’s push to outlaw contraception is connected to his Catholic faith and one just needs to compare the USCCB’s anti-contraceptive rhetoric with his to see there is no difference in their positions on women’s rights. It still remains a mystery why the USCCB is against contraception because there is no scriptural basis for their position and it begs the question; why are bishops against contraception when little boys are incapable of getting pregnant?