As we approach another presidential election, I expect the usual re-animation of the battle between the pro-choice and pro-birth sides. This is pretty much business as usual, because it’s the single best way that Republican politicians have to convince people to vote against themselves and their own best interests.
I think the abortion issue pretty well splits the country, if not exactly in two. People who see this issue one way or the other seldom change their minds and we sit, locked into yet another eternal battle that will never be resolved, while the rest of the civilized world moves forward.
But just when you were getting bored with the pro-life, pro-birth battle, along comes something so surprising, so weird, so completely out of left field that your head spins around. A debate over… contraception.
Part of the Republican Party (fortunately, it’s a small part, I think) is so incredibly out there on the religious right that they oppose birth control in any form. Unfortunately, this faction seems to be all that counts in choosing a candidate to represent their party in the November election.
This right wing of the right wing still wants people to simply abstain from sex if they don’t intend to have a child. These are the same people, I assume, that hold onto the belief that the president somehow sets some sort of national tone for behavior and culture.
The origins of the insertion of this “issue” into this year’s silly season are a little hard to sort out. It might appear that President Obama opened this can of eels himself with the policy he flew up the flagpole that would have required even religious institutions to provide birth control to patients who want it. He later changed the policy to circumvent the hornet’s nest he had kicked, but he had fanned the flames of the religious fire that smolders beneath this country.
But Rick Santorum (currently the only candidate “conservative” enough for the right wing of the right wing) had gone on record long ago in opposition to birth control. Well-versed in doubletalk, he implies that he separates his beliefs from his governmental function in that he has “supported” birth control, but in the same breath says he’s against it because it “harms women and harms society.”
In another development, there is a bill moving through the Virginia legislature (no guarantee that it will make it all the way) that would require women considering an abortion to have an ultrasound. In itself, that may not sound like such a bid deal, but most abortions happen in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy and, at such an early stage, what would be required to perform an ultrasound is the insertion of a probe (into the vagina) which then must be sort of “stirred around” in order to produce a recognizable image of the fetus.
Oddly enough, some women find the idea of the involuntary intrusion of an object into their private parts a little disturbing and are calling this “state-sanctioned rape.” These women actually have the nerve to object to the legal violation of their reproductive organs.
It’s now completely clear. The right wing of the right wing, and the part of the Republican party that seems to be controlling the whole for the time being, want to take away any illusion that women have about being in control of their own bodies. Women are baby factories – period.
This is one reason I agree with Robert Reich when he calls these right wing extremists “regressives.”
Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.