It has been about thirty years since GOP demigod Ronald Reagan ushered in the current group of religious Republicans who believe that until America is a “right-wing wasteland,” their work is unfinished and their goals are unrealized. Doubtless, the conservative movement has wreaked havoc on the national stage, but it is in the state legislatures where they have had the greatest impact; particularly over the past seven years. Sadly, they are moving forward with frightening ease because an inordinate amount of attention is on Washington politics, and over the past year-and-a-half on the clowns in the race for the White House.
There is nothing Republicans appreciate more than the nation’s attention focused on national politics because it is precisely the distraction they need to dominate the culture wars in the states they control. And, like it or not, because Democratic voters are ill-inclined to vote in non-general elections, religious Republicans have easily “maximized the damage while minimizing the pushback” from Americans alarmed at the war on women.
Of course Republicans, with assistance from the Koch brothers’ American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), have been relentless in their attacks on workers, the poor, elderly, and education in states they control, but their number one priority has been funding religious groups attacking women. Specifically, the patriarchs in the GOP have made it their primary objective to control women’s sexual habits and “making sex as fraught and unsafe an experience as is humanly possible.” And, they have given particular attention to using religion to attack low-income women in the states and nationally, but especially in the states where they are veritably invisible and invincible.
Since the 2010 midterms when Democrats and EmoProgs gave Republicans and teabaggers control of the House and many state legislatures, the first acts were not creating jobs as promised; it was attacking women’s reproductive rights. For the past six years restricting women’s reproductive rights has been the first actions in every session of Congress. In the states, however, it has been every year, all year, and 2016 had already witnessed at least 50 serious attacks on women’s healthcare rights.
There has been minimal attention on the Supreme Court hearing a challenge to the hideous abortion restrictions enacted by religious Texas Republicans, so it is not surprising there has been virtually no attention on the attacks around the nation; in part because everyone is focused on the primaries and in part because very few Americans care that religious Republicans are attacking women. America is still predominately a patriarchy; the ascendance of Donald Trump should be proof enough of that fact.
Just a few of the religious Republican attacks, and these attacks are religious, are a “massive Florida bill” that eliminates access to both abortion and birth control. The legislation Florida’s governor will be signing any day eliminates women’s healthcare funding and imposes “medically unnecessary” restrictions that make it financially impossible to offer healthcare to women and prohibitively expensive for women when it is available, especially if they used Planned Parenthood.
Late last week, Indiana’s theocratic Republicans passed a harsh anti-choice bill that forces women to give birth if state-mandated examinations detect a fetal abnormality no matter how severe. The bill is so severe, in fact, that some of the Republicans “balked at the sadistic pleasure their colleagues take in forcing women to give birth to sick or deformed children who will suffer, die, and be too much for a woman to care for;” especially poor women.
One of the Republicans who opposes the Indiana Senate bill on the advice of his wife, state Representative Sean Eberhart, said what women’s rights activists have said for years; “Today is a perfect example of a bunch of middle-aged guys sitting in this room making decisions about what we think is best for women.” The only thing Eberhart failed to admit is that those middle-aged guys are evangelical patriarchs who will not tolerate any woman having sex without consequences; in this case, the most severe consequences.
In Oklahoma, another religious Republican, Senator Nathan Dahm, authored an anti-women’s bill, S.B. 1552, that mandates revoking the medical license to practice of any doctor who performs legal abortions; the bill passed by a vote of 40-7 and is waiting for religious Republicans in the House to pass it and send it to the governor. As absurdly abusive as Dahm’s bill is, it pales in comparison to his colleague, Senator Joseph Silk, who authored the bill that mandates charging anyone performing an abortion with first-degree murder.
Never willing to be outdone in attacking women’s healthcare and reproductive rights, an Iowa state senator, Jake Chapman, is pushing legislation to make seeking, obtaining, and performing abortion a “hate crime.” Chapman’s justification for the “fetal hate crime” is that women only get, and physicians only perform, abortions because of their “irrational hatred and bigotry” towards zygotes, embryos, and fetuses; not because they want to control their own reproductive health or decided for themselves when they have children.
Not all of the religious Republican state anti-women actions concern abortions. In Florida, Missouri, Virginia, and Arizona the Republican legislatures eliminated Planned Parenthood to prevent low-income women from having affordable access to regular health checkups and contraception. Not all Planned Parenthood clinics offer abortion services, something Republicans could not care less about. They do, however, care about controlling women.
It is likely that if Americans pried themselves away from the presidential primary circus long enough to understand the frequency and intensity of these religious Republican state-based assaults on women’s rights, there would be an outcry to drown out the presidential primary noise. Maybe it is a revelation to most Americans, but while Republicans have been busy distracting them on the national stage for the past seven years, they have successfully taken control of a majority of the states.
Remember, if Republicans control 6 more states their dream of writing a new “Christian Constitution” comes true and every last outrage against women and their rights in the states will become the law of the land. Still, despite warning after warning about Democrats sitting on their hands or not voting because their fairy-tale dreams were unfulfilled, Republicans continue making gains at the state level and women are an election or two away from losing their reproductive rights to the patriarchs in the religious Republican movement.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.