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Richard Klass Headshot

The Republican Assault On Women

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I live in Virginia. I have a mandatory sonogram scheduled next week. No, I am not pregnant. I am not a woman, but, until last week that could be a logical and cause for concern conclusion given the above facts.

I could say that Virginia is the central front of the GOP's war on women but I do not like the overuse of war language. War is too serious to use to describe anything but, well, war. I dislike "War on Crime", "War on Drugs," etc. because if we believed them to be wars, we would be more serious in their prosecution. But I digress.

What is happening across the country is an assault on women's individuality and dignity. In Virginia the legislature brought close to passage a law mandating that every women seeking an abortion receive a sonogram and be offered an opportunity, not yet mandatory, to view it. This imposes a state requirement beyond what the woman and her doctor need or want.

Worse, during the first trimester when abortions are fully legal thanks to Roe v. Wade, the sonogram can only get an acceptable picture by inserting the probe into the woman's uterus, a so called "trans vaginal" sonogram. That's right, the woman has to, not to put too fine a point on it, be raped by the probe.

Only a huge outcry by women and the calculations by Virginia Governor McConnell of the impact of his signature on his vice presidential ambitions have put the legislation on hold, perhaps only temporarily.

For all their howling about intrusive government, the Republicans who control the great Commonwealth of Virginia want to legislate the most intrusive procedure a woman can imagine.

Switch now to the brouhaha about he provision of free contraception under the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. ObamaCare). The outcry, especially from the Catholic Church, seemed to go far beyond requiring some Catholic institutions to fund healthcare insurers to cover contraceptive services. Never mind that similar, even more restrictive regulations were in force in 28 states. The changes made by the Obama administration that the nurse nuns accepted did not satisfy the hard line hierarchy. They seemed to want the government to enforce the church ban on contraception that has been rejected by 98 percent of their female members. The opponents of the plan tried to disguise the issue as one of religious conscience but it was clear that contraception was the issue.

Note the hearing called by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) chairman of the House Oversight Committee to illuminate the issue. The premier panel of witnesses consisted entirely of men to solemnly pontificate on contraception, no, on female contraception. Not a uterus present.

Of course the issue entered the GOP presidential contest with the non Ron Paul candidates competing to be more extreme. Contraception was discussed extensively in the Mesa, Arizona debate to the point that there was no discussion on job creation. Rick Santorum was the most, well, Catholic candidate showing his views that could best be described as "keep them barefoot and pregnant." But even the mild Mitt felt compelled to come out against Title X that provides contraceptive services for poor women. And of course all were against funding Planned Parenthood, now a GOP dogma, despite or perhaps because of the fact that 35 percent of their funding is for contraceptive services.

How did we reach this point? How did an issue settled half a century ago become central to the GOP nominating process? How did the GOP get in position to alienate women who compose more than half the voters, and especially independent women who decide elections? Would it be implausible to suggest that the fact that the three leading GOP candidates belong to two of the most male hierarchical and female suppressing western religions has something to do with it?

Frankly I am at a loss for an explanation. I am also at a loss to explain why GOP presidential candidates and their allegedly independent Super PAC are spending the majority of their time and millions trying to destroy each other.

Perhaps a saying from my four years of Latin can shed some light: "Quem deus vult perdere, dementat prius"

"Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad."