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Lois Alter Mark

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An Open Letter to Republican Women

Posted: 02/19/2012 8:06 pm

Dear Republican Women,

I have always believed in the power of sisterhood, and have taken pride and solace in the fact that women look out for each other and support each other. Suddenly, though, it seems we've let politics override that. Why are we letting men tell us what we can or can't do with our bodies, with our lives? Why are we not fighting for our rights as women?

We've been hearing a lot from your male colleagues lately, but you have remained surprisingly quiet -- yes, even you, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. Is this because you realize that what the Republican men have been involved in is wrong on so many levels?

I am very angry about the so-called "Republican War on Women" but I know many Republicans are women -- and many are my friends -- so this actually breaks my heart. I'm genuinely interested to hear what you think about all of this. By opening up the discussion, listening to each other respectfully and trying to understand and work with each other, we can close some of the gap.

Let's go over some of the activities of the past week, starting with the picture that threw many people over the edge:

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Do you think anything about women's birth control should be decided solely by a group of men?

And what do you think about the Virginia bill that requires women seeking abortions to first undergo a transvaginal ultrasound which has been called "state-sanctioned rape?" Do you think it is ethical, humane or compassionate to force a woman to undergo an invasive procedure which is medically unnecessary?

Many people are mortified by a comment made by Rick Santorum's SuperPAC backer Foster Friess, who told reporter Andrea Mitchell, "Back in my day, they used Bayer aspirin for contraception. The gals put it between their knees, and it wasn't that costly." Santorum dismissed this statement as a bad joke, but he has said contraception "is not okay," and his platform is all about abstinence. So women who don't want to get pregnant need to just say "no" -- even if they're married? How do you think their husbands will react to this? (Your own Bob Dole, by the way, was the poster boy for Viagra which is covered by most insurance companies. So, men are encouraged to seek sex but if we agree, we have to pay for our contraception? Then why aren't diaphragms sold over the counter like condoms?)

More to the point, have you ever used birth control? Do you think it should be covered by your insurance company? Every survey shows that an overwhelming majority of women -- even Catholic women -- have used contraception at some point in their lives. If it's against your religious belief, don't use it, but why should a woman have to abide by someone else's religious beliefs?

Which brings me to the big point -- the separation of church and state. Our country was founded on a philosophy of religious freedom -- not Christian freedom. Religion and Christianity are not synonymous. Our citizens are individuals of every race, color, religion. Do you think it's right to pass laws based on religious beliefs? Our founding fathers were all about escaping religious tyranny and giving everyone the right to practice their own religion.

I will leave you with these words from Susan B. Anthony who fought so hard and so courageously to win women the right to vote: "No self-respecting woman should wish or work for the success of a party that ignores her sex." Let's discuss.

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