Republican Ideologues Will See Backlash

Guest blog by M.

In an ideal world, every child is wanted and no person is ever hungry.

Unfortunately, the reality is nearly half of pregnancies in our country are unintended. A third of Americans need food assistance.

Also unfortunately, the majority of Republicans seem to be stuck in an alternative reality. Rather than advancing policies to address these issues, lawmakers at both the federal and state levels are passing legislation that will exacerbate these problems.

Why? Because these Republicans believe that only careless women get abortions and use them as a method of birth control – without a second thought. These Republicans believe that only Welfare Queens get food assistance – because they are too lazy to get a job.

Their views are judgmental and misogynistic – not to mention woefully narrow and inaccurate.

Let’s start with abortion rights. The states are on the frontline of this battle.

In just the first half of 2013, 19 states adopted 43 restrictions related to access to abortion. Some restrictions are outright challenges to Roe v. Wade, which grants women a constitutional right to an abortion up until viability at about 24 weeks, while others are meant to sharply reduce access. Two states continued a disturbing trend related to limiting access to family planning.

In North Dakota, lawmakers passed five pieces of abortion legislation this spring. Four go into effect on Aug. 1 unless they are enjoined due to litigation — including the strictest abortion law in the U.S. (banning abortion at 6 weeks, before many women realize they are pregnant) and unnecessary restrictions designed to shutter the only clinic that provides safe pregnancy terminations (ironically under the pretext of “safety”). The fifth is a personhood constitutional amendment that – if passed by the people in November 2014 – would give legal rights to one-celled fertilized eggs – impacting IVF, birth control and all abortion.

Further proving they don’t trust women, North Dakota’s legislative kooks also tried their darndest to stop an evidence-based program to educate at-risk teens about their bodies, sex and sexually transmitted diseases, all of which will actually prevent abortion.

Republicans around the country are making themselves a laughing stock with their efforts. Just last week:  North Carolina legislators snuck an amendment into a motorcycle safety bill to include abortion restrictions. In Texas, state troopers confiscated tampons from women who wanted to observe debate on its latest abortion legislation, fearing they’d be used as projectiles – but it remained ok to bring guns into the gallery. Pro-tip for the GOP: When #motorcyclevagina and #tampongate are trending on Twitter, you know the message isn’t going your way.

The message NOT getting through to these Republican zealots: this isn’t an ideal world where every child is wanted.

The reality is that sometimes 11-year-old girls get pregnant from their molesters. Women are routinely raped on dates and by strangers. Wanted pregnancies have devastating medical problems. Birth control fails. Regardless, the decision to carry or terminate a pregnancy is not made lightly but it is the woman’s decision alone.

Republicans take a paternalistic view that THEY know what’s best for all women. They want women to keep their legs closed or stay home and raise kids.

Rather than reduce the 49% unintended pregnancy rate (and thus the abortion rate) through sex-ed and family planning, these same Republicans are doing the opposite by passing restrictions designed to close women’s health clinics and barring state and federal funding for women’s health care services.

We know the dangerous impact of their actions:  low-income women will lose life-saving cancer screenings and seek out risky back-alley abortions. Because we know that Roe didn’t mark the start of abortions – it was the beginning of safe abortions. But misogynists don’t care; they value an unborn fetus more than the lives of real women.

Ironically, the same lawmakers who protest “ObamaCare” because it “gets between a patient and a doctor” are inserting themselves into exam rooms across the country with an avalanche of abortion legislation.

And then there’s food assistance, which also has a major impact on women and children in our country.

The US House of Representatives just passed a Farm Bill but stripped out the nutrition portion that’s been in this traditionally bi-partisan legislation for the past 40 years. Besides helping our agricultural industry, the national Farm Bill funds the food stamp program, supplements food banks and supports food programs for low-income students, seniors and pregnant women.

Here’s the reality that the House Republicans don’t accept: a third of our country needs help getting the food it needs. Of the 47 million people covered by food stamps, half are children and many are elderly and disabled. Are you going to call your grandpa who’s a Korean War vet “lazy”? Is your disabled grandma who pays sky-high rent in Williston a “Welfare Queen”? No? Maybe some think they are just “more entitled” than others.

Kevin Cramer, North Dakota’s only Representative, called the food stamp debate a “distraction.” Yes, hunger pains CAN be a big distraction, especially when you’re a growing kid trying to get through the school day or a mom working two jobs without health insurance. The real priority for House Republicans is repealing ObamaCare, which they recently voted on for the 37th time. Just in case you missed their point the first 36 times. Good use of time, Congressmen.

These misogynistic ideologues must be replaced so they can no longer hijack federal and state laws with their far-right views. Most people DON’T want lawmakers in their doctor’s office. Most DO want a safety net for kids and seniors. Most DON’T want to spend tax money defending abortion lawsuits for years.

Elections will demonstrate the backlash to this extreme lawmaking. The rates of unintended pregnancy and hungry Americans may not be part of Republicans’ reality, but the ballot box will be real enough.