Last week, I wrote a piece on the Trump administration’s quiet war on the LGBTQ community. This week, I am writing about another war. This one not so quiet. This week I am writing about the war on women. Coming from nearly all fronts, women are under attack from the president, the GOP, and the religious right.
No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her own body. No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother. – Margaret Sanger
Women’s rights are currently on a very slippery slope in America. We are losing our freedoms daily and it is headed in a very dangerous direction. Women from coast to coast will soon be forced to live by religious edicts that are not their own, and our own government just made that possible.
I was given this assignment by my editor who was watching the Handmaid’s Tale. Granted, it’s a work of fiction, but don’t think for one second that something of the sort is impossible.
In case you don’t know the story: It started as a book, written by Margaret Atwood. The story itself is set in a dystopian Gilead (formerly America) in the 1990s. In it, the environment has gotten so bad women struggle to get pregnant. The women who can get pregnant are kept as slaves and made to carry children for the elite.
So, how did this happen? Fundamentalists gunned down congress and the president, suspended the constitution, then told everyone that the Muslims did it. The fundamentalist Gileadeans then rewrote the story to suit their ends and took over the government. They immediately stripped women of their rights and sent the ones who could carry children into slavery.
Sound a little familiar now? At least the coup and the whole “fundamentalists take over the government” aspect of it, anyway.
We have seen with the advent of fake news and propaganda that, just like in the book, those in power rewrite even modern history to suit their own agenda. Not only that, but once I really sat and thought about it for a second I nearly pissed myself when I realized that the fundamentalists don’t even have to fight as hard in this version as they did in the book.
The president and the ruling majority in Congress are already on their side.
THOUSANDS OF WOMEN WILL LOSE THEIR BIRTH CONTROL COVERAGE
On Friday, October 6th Trump rolled back a mandate that will now allow virtually any employer to exclude birth control from their health insurance plans simply because they object to it for “moral” reasons. This will leave hundreds of thousands of women without a means to pay for their birth control.
The administration announced their intentions months ago. Ordinarily, there is a grace period for public input. They refused to do that this time around. Why? They said that the poor widdle religious zealots needed relief right away from the burden of having to provide birth control coverage.
“It would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest to engage in a full notice-and-comment-rule making,” said the administration.
Over and over again this administration places the needs of a few over that of the many. They place the needs of the religious, well-to-do white male above the needs of everyone else. This is by far one of their most blatant displays yet. They clearly stated there that the needs of these religious few outweigh the needs of nearly every female in the country.
Angry yet? I know I am. When I read the above quote for the first time I needed to put down my laptop and collect myself. I was furious. Correction, I AM furious.
CHURCHES ALREADY QUALIFIED UNDER THE MANDATE
Maybe the most infuriating part of this whole thing for me is the fact that churches were already included in the mandate. They didn’t have to provide coverage. Nonprofit groups were the same. There was a path to take if one truly objected to providing the coverage.
Let us not equivocate. This is a direct sniper attack on women by the religious right. This was not a fatal blow, but it’s damn close. This was a huge win for religious zealots from coast to coast, and the fallout could literally be felt for generations, depending on how this all plays out. Not to mention how much further down the slippery slope every female in the country slid on October 6th.
When I start thinking of the implications I start to get short of breath and dizzy. I am not alone. There are already lawsuits and pushback from around the country.
LAWSUITS AND REACTIONS
WASHINGTON’S ATTORNEY GENERAL
Washington State’s attorney general announced that he would sue the Trump administration over the rollback of the ACA protections. “President Trump’s contraception rules are unfair, unlawful, and unconstitutional,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson in a written statement. “I refuse to let President Trump disregard our laws and our constitution in an effort to deny women access to contraception.”
Ferguson says the rollback violates women from several angles. First, it violates the First Amendment by, “requiring individuals to bear the burdens of religions to which they do not belong,” as well as the equal protection clause of the Fifth Amendment.
Secondly, the new rules violate the Civil Rights Act. “The Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination against women based on sex or the capacity to be pregnant,” Ferguson wrote. “The rules result in women having less access to reproductive health care, which is discrimination based on their gender.”
There are several other lawsuits in the works as well, but they say essentially the same things.
THIS IS RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION
David Stacy is government affairs director for the Human Rights Campaign. He said, “this is a very sweeping expansion of religious discrimination by the federal government, and we think it goes beyond where federal law is.”
The Affordable Care Act contraceptive benefit was meant to advance women’s health care and equality. But the new rule proves once again that women’s health and equality are not on the Trump administration’s agenda. – ACLU web site
Indeed. Since I started writing this piece I have asked myself a million times how this can possibly be legal. I have wondered how this can possibly be happening. We were supposed to be free in this country to live how we want. That is the very tenet of life here. There was a war and everything.
Suddenly, in this topsy-turvy land, we are now at the mercy of the religious right. And other than lawsuits and protests, there is precious little that we can actually do about it.
All hope is not lost, however. Check out these amazing advocates and get in this fight. If not with them, with someone. We need all hands on deck. This is war, ladies. Dust off your boots, it’s time to step up. Religion is all well and good, but I for one don’t plan to live by someone else’s rules.
RELIGIOUS ZEALOUTRY IS ALIVE AND WELL IN THESE UNITED STATES
The line between religious freedom and religious zealotry have now become even muddier in the United States. I can personally grasp that freedom from religion is on equal footing with the freedom to worship as one sees fit. How is it that so many people have apparently missed that memo?
Richard B. Katskee is legal director of the Americans United for Separation of Church and State told the New York Times that the new rules imposed would put an “impermissible burden” on female employees who need contraception coverage.
“Religious freedom is the right to believe and worship as you see fit,” Katskee told the Times. “It’s never the right to use government to impose costs, burdens or harms on other people. You can’t use the government to make other people pay the price for your religious beliefs or practices.”
REPUBLICAN RESPONSE TO THE ROLLBACK
So what are the Republicans saying about this whole thing? Well, first when asked how women were supposed to pay for their birth control now, the administration said that a family member can help them pay for it. They also said that there wasn’t any solid proof that this would place a financial burden on women, or that the number of unwanted pregnancies would go up.
I won’t spend a preponderance of time on the subject since it’s all bullshit anyway.
Diane Black, A Republican from Tennessee said that the new rules were a “resounding victory for true-believing Americans.” The rollback will end “the persecution of ordinary Americans who for years have been seeking only the freedom to live in accordance with their faith, free from Government interference.”
Once again, the rights of the religious zealots have somehow surpassed the rights of women in the United States. That’s not conjecture, they keep saying it. Over and over again. Religious freedom is more important than freedom for women.
LOSING INSURANCE COVERAGE IS ONLY PART OF THE PROBLEM
Women have had to fight tooth and nail for every scrap we have managed to grab from the GOP and the religious right. However, the Trump administration continues to double down.
The major issue here is that the women directly affected by this rollback would fall back on planned parenthood for their contraception needs. Except the administration has defunded them and attacks them every chance they get.
The attacks on women don’t stop at contraceptives, either.
Betsey Devos has scaled back on Obama era protections of female college students who report sexual assault. Hell, there are even churches who have been granted the ability to form police forces of their own with power just like police at a University. Except they could arrest you for breaking biblical laws, instead of actual laws. Admittedly, even that line is starting to get blurry.
Suddenly our country sure is starting to look like it’s being ruled under Sharia law, just under a different religion and a different name. Like everything else that comes from conservatives, the rules only apply to them when it suits their agenda. Sharia law is bad, but since they aren’t Islamic their rules aren’t evil. In their twisted minds, that logic holds, somehow.
Women, progressives, and LGBTQ individuals are fully under attack by this administration from all sides at once. It’s past time we put a stop to this nonsense.
THIS IS A WAR WE ALL KNOW WELL
Granted, even before Trump became president, we were fighting against the GOP and their constant attempts to make abortion illegal again and make birth control even more difficult to obtain as well as the myriad other little attacks. That was nothing compared to what we are faced with since The Mango Mussolini took office.
We all knew things would be bad. Hell, I marched with the Women’s March because I knew it would get ugly. I don’t think any of us knew exactly HOW bad, though. Personally, I can’t believe what Trump is able to get away with by simply signing an order, or publishing a rollback in a legal journal. What the hell happened to the system of checks and balances that were supposed to prevent this sort of thing from happening?
Team Trump has an army of lawyers working like mad to find ways to circumvent the laws and skirt around the system.
It will take a mind far greater than mine to solve the issues we are all faced with today. However, there is one thing I do know how to do and that is FIGHT. Peaceful protests are still legal at the moment, and it is more important than ever that we do just that. It is past time we raised our voices up and said NO MORE!
I cannot say it enough. It has never been more important. If we don’t stand up and fight now, I fear this world will not be one we want to leave our daughters.
Click here to visit the ACLU website for more information and continued updates on the situation. If you can afford to, please donate to the ACLU, they are in this and they have our backs. You can also visit The Handmaid’s Resistance by clicking here. I think I am going to organize a march of my own where I live. WIll you join me?
Sitting back now and asking yourself if this is really your fight? Are you a feminist? Isn’t this the work of the feminists?
Here is the quick way of working out if you’re a feminist. Put your hand in your pants.
a) Do you have a vagina? and
b) Do you want to be in charge of it?
If you said ‘yes’ to both, then congratulations! You’re a feminist. – Caitlin Moran, journalist
Please don’t read that the wrong way. ANYONE can be a feminist. EVERYONE should be a feminist. We need all hands on deck. The quote is simply a quippy way of saying that if you do indeed own a vagina, you are a feminist. Congratulations, you’re in.
I will end with the words of Margaret Sanger. “Woman must have her freedom, the fundamental freedom of choosing whether or not she will be a mother and how many children she will have. Regardless of what man’s attitude may be, that problem is hers — and before it can be his, it is hers alone. She goes through the vale of death alone, each time a babe is born. As it is the right neither of man nor the state to coerce her into this ordeal, so it is her right to decide whether she will endure it.”