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Monday, April 8, 2013
12:00 AM | Posted by Tara
2012 was a banner year for women’s issues to be at the forefront of political debate. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to expand our rights, but to limit them. Politicians deigned to define what constituted rape and what did not. Employers wanted the right to decide whether the medical coverage they provided covered birth control. After all she fought for, Margaret Sanger would be rolling in her grave.
As many older protesters have declared, they can’t believe they’re STILL fighting for these things. It should be a done deal. A no-brainer.
Writing for HerStory is just a continuation for me. I’ve long been involved in birthing rights for women, so why not all reproductive rights? The right not to procreate is as important as the right to birth your baby the way you want.
Women have had to fight for a long time. Our ancestors fought for the vote. They got it in 1920, when the 19th Amendment was passed. As I wrote about in The Woman Rebel, Margaret Sanger led the crusade for the right to control our own reproductive decisions. Birth control was gradually accepted after many servicemen returned from World War I with veneral disease, and by the mid-1940s, birth control was fully embraced by the medical profession in the United States. In 1965, a physician was convicted for helping a married couple obtain birth control, but his conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court. Birth control was legal…for married people. It wasn’t until 1972 that it was legal to distribute to single people.
Whew! It took most of a century to get to that point, yet by January of 2012, Time Magazine’s Adam Cohen was asking if birth control could possibly be made illegal once again. With the big conflict over birth control and the conservative attempt to defund Planned Parenthood (arguably Margaret Sanger’s greatest accomplishment), will America’s women end up any better off than we started at the beginning of the 20th century?
In January of this year, the Republican National Convention has resolved to defund Planned Parenthood in its entirety based on its history of providing abortion services, but it seems they are not only against abortion but against birth control. Cohen quoted one New Hampshire lawmaker as saying: “I am opposed to providing condoms to someone. If you want to have a party, have a party, but don’t ask me to pay for it.” Iowa Representative Steve King suggests that if birth control is too easy to get it might destroy America. “If we let our birth rate get down below the replacement rate, we’re a dying civilization.”
And don’t get me started on the Personhood bills that have been presented in state after state, giving fertilized eggs more rights than the full-grown women gestating them. That’s an argument for another day.
The Affordable Care Act, the long-awaited healthcare-turned-insurance-reformation law put a good portion of its provisions into effect on January 1 of this year, when all insurance companies that participate in the national health care system were mandated to provide birth control without a co-payment or a deductible.
Time will tell whether the Affordable Care Act will be able to maintain what it promises or not. States and insurance companies alike are still fighting it. As for women, it looks like we’ll still be fighting for the same rights we already won just to keep them.
I encourage all women to be aware of what is going on in our government. Don’t be afraid to write your legislator on any topic that concerns you. You don’t have to go to jail like Margaret Sanger to make a difference. Make your voice heard. Women make up half this country and we count. We vote. We deserve to be treated as whole persons.
Caffeinated Thoughts. RNC Passes Resolution to Defund Planned Parenthood. January 25, 2013. http://caffeinatedthoughts.com/2013/01/rnc-passes-resolution-to-defund-planned-parenthood/
Cohen, Adam. Birth Control: Could It Be Illegal Again? Time, Jan 30, 2012, http://ideas.time.com/2012/01/30/birth-control-could-it-be-illegal-again/