To say that I’m baffled would be an understatement. I’m used to abortion being a hot issue in every presidential campaign—it has been since I’ve been old enough to vote, but this whole discussion about legislating birth control is throwing me off. It’s making my head spin. Really, there are serious contenders in the presidential race that think that birth control is morally reprehensible? How is this not a joke? How is this happening? Or more importantly, where is this coming from?
Earlier this week an Indiana state representative refused to sign a resolution honoring the 100-year anniversary of the Girl Scouts because he says they are a “tactical arm of Planned Parenthood.” Sure, nobody puts too much weight on the opinions of one state representative from Indiana, but his willingness to so blatantly slam the Girl Scouts, an organization known for providing girls with self-esteem building opportunities, indicates a problem. The problem is that many people are still threatened by the idea of smart, independent women who are in control of their own reproductive health and in the GOP’s effort to out-conservative each other, they’ve started saying offensive things—out loud—things that would have been unacceptable in a different climate.
So who are “they” and why are they feeling so threatened? Well, they’re the minority for one thing. Most Americans believe that affordable birth control is just fine. So why is this issue even coming up? Why is President Obama’s plan for across the board access to birth control being made out to be evil? It defies logic. Present day economics dictate that for most families both parents have to work. Would having more children help lessen the financial burden for families? No, it would not. Would keeping women out of the work force help families be less dependent on the government for their basic needs? No, it would not. Without birth control would there be fewer abortions? I don’t think so. Is President Obama going to make everyone use birth control? No, he is not.
Why is birth control even an issue then? All I can come up with is that the GOP presidential candidates are so clueless as to how to tackle the issues our country faces today that they’re focusing instead on an issue that will take the spotlight off of the fact that they have no ingenuity. They don’t know how to address our economic woes or how to begin a discussion on how we’re going to power a country that can’t continue to rely solely on coal and oil for its every need. Instead they’re going back in time. They want to return to 1950, to a time when America seemed on top of its game, women knew their place, most homosexuals were in the closet and there weren’t so many pesky laws in place to keep environmental degradation in check. Those were the good old days—unless of course you were a person of color, a member of the LGBT community or a woman who wanted to limit the size of her own family.
As a woman born in 1968 it’s been relatively easy for me. But some of the things I’ve been hearing lately from the Republicans running for office have served to remind me that my freedoms haven’t been in place for such a long time. My own grandmother was twenty-one years old when women were granted the right to vote. Until 1936 birth control information was considered obscene and was prohibited from being distributed through the mail. The equal pay act was passed only five years before I was born. When I look at the timeline of women’s rights I see that I’ve been lucky. I was able to have a say in the size of my family. I haven’t been paid less than my male co-workers simply because I’m female. I’ve been allowed to vote!
So I guess I take it personally when a group of white, wealthy men start dissing the Girl Scouts or suggesting that women shouldn’t necessarily have access to affordable birth control. I look at the girls from my daughter’s Girl Scout troop and I’m proud of the young women they are becoming. They’ve canoed through the Alaskan wilderness. They’ve volunteered in our community to make it a better place. They’ve been positive role models to younger troops. They’ve learned to be true friends to each other. In a couple years these girls will be launching out of our small town and into the bigger world. They’ll be well prepared. I know they’ll do a good job of reminding the world that smart, independent, empowered women need not be feared, in fact they make the world a better place.
11 thoughts on “Back in Time”
What’s really scary to me is that although “they” are in the minority, they make ripples and they have power. It is kind of chilling how recently many freedoms we take for granted were not accessible. I’m younger than you, but I remember (on the other side of the Atlantic) a long-running news story about a fourteen-year-old Irish girl who had been raped and gotten pregnant, and the huge legal/political/religious wrangle in Ireland over whether she could have an abortion. I was about that age myself at the time.
I also grew up with a father who ranted about how “wrong” both birth control and abortion were on a random but frequent basis. Both England and Israel give out birth control for free. When I took advantage of that, I felt it was another betrayal of my dad, and inevitable.
It’s interesting that both England and Israel give out birth control for free. It seems so progressive compared to here. The religion of my youth was never opposed to birth control, but it was very suspect of anything remotely related to feminism. My own father (God rest his soul) once told me that the problems of our nation were due to two things: feminism and the fact that there was no longer Christian prayer in public schools.
Thanks so much for your comment!
I hope this goes viral.
another year older and you come it swinging… yeah….I like it
remember I knew you when you were still in the closet.
Thanks a lot Tom. Now you’ve outed me and everyone knows I’m a banjo player. Seriously though, thanks for reading my blog and for passing it along.
Just a mere 3 months ago, a birth control discussion would have been a medical discussion, but something has changed and now suddenly it’s a political discussion. Very weird. I guess the economy doing better is a discussion some of these guys just can’t have.. The latest is that apparently college is also a bad thing according to one political candidate. I guess the 13th Century was so great it’s something to aspire to these days.
Ha! Don’t get me started. Apparently it’s bad to want to have a trained and educated population. Such snobbery!
But …. no one is “legislating” birth control. I understand the idea that antiquated ideals are all to be reviled wholesale (and I would disagree), but one must apply factual logic to such conversations or the whole thing is moot. Also, if Planned Parenthood and its ideals are so noble, why shirk the correlation between GSUSA and PP?
The principle being argued, by those of cogent minds, is one of religious liberty. Some good stuff has been written likening the distribution of birth control by entities who teach against it to a kosher deli being directed to selling pork.
I assume you’ll find the Daily Kos version most palatable, rife with respect for divergent opinions, as usual:
You’re right. They aren’t talking about “legislating” birth control. But they are proposing changes to the law concerning birth control. I should have worded that more carefully. The discussion started under the guise of religious freedom but it deteriorated to reveal the candidates’ less than progressive stances on birth control. I’m baffled that someone with such antiquated views on birth control can even be taken seriously.
Also, I’m not shirking the connection between Planned Parenthood and the Girl Scouts. However, I believe it was in poor taste (ie ridiculous) for Bob Morris to make a political issue out of something as simple as signing a resolution honoring a program that has worked to benefit girls for the past century.
And the question of religious freedom… Will Christian Scientists be allowed to forgo health care altogether? Will Scientologists leave anti-psychotics off of their plans? Seriously, if each church leaves out certain things they deem inappropriate or immoral it seems that Obama’s plan will be litigated to death, although perhaps that’s the plan. I confess, I have much to learn about this issue.
I appreciate your comment and the link.
I would like to see the current birth control – religious liberty discussion expand to address some broader freedom of religion questions. Questions like: Exactly how much liberty do we allow religions to have in this democracy? Do we grant radical Islam the freedom to “slaughter the infidels” who choose to believe differently? Do we grant religions the liberty to force their members to pierce their skin, require men to execute their daughters if they suspect wrong doing or to completely ban music? Those precepts are actually part of some religions in the world. Do we grant fringe religions the right to beat children until they cannot stand, the right to abuse members physically, the right to marry pre-teen girls off to older men or the liberty to take a wife from a husband and give her to another married man? Do we grant religion the freedom to wage wars against other religions? Do we grant religions the liberty to buy political candidates who will not represent all American citizens or force members of their churches to vote the way they prescribe? When any religion actively steps into politics, do we still allow them their tax exempt status? At what point does religious liberty (from all religions) infringe upon our democracy in the United States?
Freedom of religion sounds good when it’s our particular brand of religious freedom that’s at stake. But what about those other religions who subscribe to beliefs that make us shudder and go against our democratic prinicples? Where do we draw the line between individual rights and religious liberty?
I think the danger is in placing objective reasoning above obvious evil. Sharia Law is a great example. You play the banjo? Then we love something that supercedes most topics … ; ) I’m strictly limiting my time online but will come back and read soon. Good to type back and forth to you.
Banjo players unite! I’m more of a fiddler, but I’m learning banjo. It’s so much fun.