Even Military Rape Victims Aren't Safe from the GOP -- 3 Republican Moves Against Women We Have to Beat Back
By now, the story of Representative Lisa Brown, almost certainly banned from speaking due to her uttering the word "vagina" during the debate of an anti-choice bill on the House Floor in Michigan, is spreading fast. The humor used by pro-choice politicians in Michigan is understandable and has called necessary attention to their policy debate. But it shouldn't hide the fact: what's behind the high-profile skirmish is one of the worst anti-choice bills any state has seen, a so-called omnibus bill that would decimate reproductive healthcare options in the state.
The series of state-level and national legislative assaults on reproductive rights that's come to be known as the "war on women" is still going strong, despite sizeable public backlash. The GOP's approach--throw every kind of abortion ban or family planning cut to the wall and see what sticks -- means that even if the most heinous bans and provisions don't go through thanks to outctry, something will.
Here are a few examples of what the GOP has been up to since the last time we checked in.
1. Michigan's Omnibus "Super" Bill Targets Abortion From All Sides
During debate over an omnibus bill that would curtail reproductive rights, Rep. Lisa Brown concluded her speech with the phrase that would soon ricochet around the news cycle: "And Finally Mr. Speaker, I'm flattered that you're all so interested in my vagina, but no means no." As a result, she was forbidden from speaking about the bill the next day.
But the argument she was making is not a laughing matter. The package of bills that prompted "vaginagate" is a doozy, including a so-called "super bill," a bundle of restrictions rolled together. The worst of those seeks to eliminate all abortions in the state after 20 weeks, with no exceptions for rape, incest or the health of the mother.
But while that is the most controversial proposal--it would essentially force women who have found out their fetus isn't viable to carry it to term anyway--the rest of it has already passed, and it puts the squeeze on abortion rights from all angles. It bans the all but nonexistent practice of "sex-selective" abortions; eliminates "tele-med" abortion, in which a doctor supervises the procedure remotely; and introduces "coercion screenings" to add a hurdle to women seeking the procedure. It also introduces a passel of noxious TRAP laws (Target Regulation of Abortion Providers) which put requirements on things like hallway width and require clinics to jump through various hoops to stay open.
In the fall, the state senate will vote on many of the regulations that passed the House. The 20-week ban is shortly to follow on the docket.
As for vaginagate, Jessica Valenti gets to the crux:
I wished this latest GOP gaffe surprised me, but Republicans feeling squirmy about women’s “down-theres” while desperately trying to keep said “hoo hoos” in check is pretty standard these days. We live in a country where it’s fine to legislate vaginas but saying the actual word is forbidden.
2. Congressional Republicans May Block Abortion Access for Military Rape Victims
Women in the military are already vulnerable to rape, but even more dehumanizing is the fact that they are the only federal employees who are not able to access abortion in the cases of rape or incest. If a woman in the armed services is raped and becomes pregnant (as happens in a few hundred cases a year), she has to pay for her abortion herself and often if she's abroad, travel off-base.
The Shaheen amendment, an addendum to the NDAA, would fill this gap and extend abortion coverage to military women who are victims of rape or incest. Stand Up for Service Women ( StandWithServicewomen.org), a coalition that's advocating for the amendment, explains why it's necessary.