Have you ever heard the saying, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend"? Well, apparently some Republicans have taken that a bit too literally when it comes to their hatred for President Obama. Case in point: The recent letter sent by 47 GOP senators to Iran's leaders in an attempt to persuade them not to make a nuclear deal with their very own commander in chief. Ouch!
The ironic part is that by sending that letter, the GOP appears to have aligned itself with Iran's hardliners--a group of extremists who, like them, want to undermine their moderate president by preventing a successful nuclear deal.
While it may seem peculiar that gung-ho Republicans like Mitch McConnell, Jim Inhofe, and Ted Cruz would want to, as Obama put it, "make common cause" with people whose views and actions they claim to vehemently oppose, perhaps it's not such a strange alliance after all.
Because, when you think about it, are they really that different?
Not only do both groups want to overrule their presidents, use religion as a governing tool, and have strong military presences in Iraq; both groups want to deny women access to reproductive health and family planning services.
And I'll actually take it a step further to argue that, in regards to women's health, the GOP and Iranian hardliners are indeed comrades. (Though I'm sure neither of them would ever admit that.)
Since the beginning of the year, hardliners in Iran have gotten closer to enacting a bill that would impose major restrictions on modern contraception, ban voluntary sterilization, and dissolve state-funded family planning programs.
Meanwhile, Republicans have continued their attempts to repeal women's constitutional right to legal abortion, cut federal funding for family planning services from certain clinics, and eliminate insurance coverage for birth control, maternity care, and well-woman exams.
See what I mean? They could literally trade places and there wouldn't be a considerable change to either of their women's health agendas. However, this was far from the case just a couple years ago.
That's because, up until about 2012, Iran--one of the world's most socially-conservative countries--was considered by many to be a global leader in family planning and a far more progressive advocate for reproductive healthcare than (you guessed it) the United States.
That year the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamanei, decided to put an end to the country's groundbreaking family planning program, which had been providing free and widely-available contraceptives (everything from birth control pills to IUDs) and sterilization procedures to its citizens since the early 90s. The decades-long campaign was an attempt by the Iranian government to curb the nation's staggering population growth, and it was wildly successful--having reduced the national fertility rate from 5.15 children per woman in 1989 to 1.92 in 2012.
But now Khamanei and his hardline cohorts are on a staunch mission to boost the country's birth rate at the expense of women's reproductive freedom, stating concerns about the supposedly Western nature of family planning and, in particular, the negative impact that an aging population might have on its workforce.
Amnesty International has called the policy reversal "a dangerous culture in which women are stripped of key rights and viewed as baby-making machines rather than human beings with fundamental rights to make choices about their own bodies and lives."
And although that is true, let's not forget what's going on in our own backyard--where, just last year, a GOP congressman argued that restricting access to abortion (and, in turn, forcing women to have more kids) would benefit the economy.
"[H]aving a growing population and having new children brought into the world...It very much promotes job creation," Rep. Bob Goodlatte said during a debate over an anti-abortion bill.
Which raises the question: If Republicans like Goodlatte were able to enact every one of their reproductive health-related bills, wouldn't they also be stripping women of their "key rights" and turning them into "baby-making machines"?
I think you know the unfortunate answer. We all do.
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