5 Right-Wing Violations Against Women That We Must Crush
A sign at NYC's 2011 rally for women's health.
Photo Credit: Sarah Seltzer
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
Don't be fooled by the Limbaugh backlash. It's true that progressives and women's groups are fighting back with unprecedented vigor, and the campaigns against Komen, Rush Limbaugh's sexist smears and the Blunt Amendment show that women can organize quickly and powerfully over social media. And yes, it remains crucial that the shock jock's nasty sexist, racist views are finally getting their deserved public airing.
But extremist politicians haven't gotten the message yet: the policies that mirror and feed from Limbaugh's smears still exist, and may in fact be worsening. The GOP War on Women is in full throttle over a year since it kicked off, taking its toll in particular on the state level where recent data shows that all the posturing has dramatically changed living conditions for women--and not for the better.
Here are five ways the GOP is continuing its onslaught on women's rights. These issues that are crying out for the kind of intense pushback that we now know women's and reproductive justice advocates are capable of:
1) Women are losing ground fast on abortion rights in states that were previously neutral. On Thursday morning, the Guttmacher Institute released some shocking data (although it's less shocking for those of us who have been following the war on women). What did it reveal? The record number of abortion restrictions passed in 2011 has meant a massive shift for women in terms of which states were supportive of reproductive rights and which were overtly hostile:
As a result, the number of both supportive and middle-ground states shrank considerably, while the number of hostile states ballooned. In 2000, 19 states were middle-ground and only 13 were hostile. By 2011, when states enacted a record-breaking number of new abortion restrictions (see box), that picture had shifted dramatically: 26 states were hostile to abortion rights, and the number of middle-ground states had cut in half, to nine.
These states are deemed "hostile" if they have four or more of a combination of restrictions, including late-term bans, parental notification provisions, mandatory ultrasounds, cuts to family planning funds, restrictions on insurance both public and private, waiting periods and counseling, and targeted regulation of abortion providers. The definition makes sense: stack several of these restrictions together, and you have states that are pre-Roe in essence. Imagine you're a woman of moderate means trying to get an abortion. If your insurance coverage is restricted so you have to pay out of pocket, and you have to make two trips and miss two days of work to get the procedure done, speak to a counselor and be subjected to an ultrasound, you may not be able to exercise your right at all.
The implications of this shift are enormous. In 2000, the country was almost evenly divided, with nearly a third of American women of reproductive age living in states solidly hostile to abortion rights, slightly more than a third in states supportive of abortion rights and close to a third in middle-ground states. By 2011, however, more than half of women of reproductive age lived in hostile states. This growth came largely at the expense of the states in the middle, and the women who live in them; in 2011, only one in 10 American women of reproductive age lived in a middle-ground state.
Now some of this shifting ground has to do with the fact that in these now-hostile states, Tea Party and conservative legislatures have taken over. In other words, the sharp political divide in our country has actually had a dire effect on women's health access on the ground. And they just keep coming. Some of the proposed laws don't even fit into the Guttmacher categories due to their extreme absurdity, such as Utah's " don't say sex" bill--which would forbid mentioning sex-related topics in schools--and Kansas' "let doctors lie" bill which would protect doctors who don't disclose information to pregnant women that might lead them to abort their fetuses.