"Resolved, that the women of this nation in 1876, have greater cause for discontent, rebellion and revolution than the men of 1776."
This quote from Susan B. Anthony resonates as disconcertingly palpable today -- 136 years later.
To keep hearing the same political debates around our country regarding abortion, women's pay, and women's health is so surreal that sometimes I feel like a time-traveling protagonist in a sci-fi film, in which I missed a turn and went back a century. Debates that had been laid to rest -- so it seemed -- regarding evolution, abortion, science, and medicine are being exhumed from their buried past, and evangelicals have managed to breathe new life into these dead issues with their subversive strategy. Like termites, they have been gradually eating away at the very foundation of women's rights.
When I first arrived in this country, I saw a bumper sticker that read, "The Moral Majority is neither." It was a curious sticker and I thought was clever with its implicit meaning, but I really didn't know what the statement was about. After a while I came to know about Rev. Jerry Falwell and his church. During those days, his organization "Moral Majority" was an effective evangelical political lobby group that helped Reagan garner white Christian votes towards his presidential win. He used Jerry Falwell and his political influence to his advantage, but I don't think he ever took him seriously: he was merely a political instrument. But they did get a few carrots in return for his support: Supreme Court Justices Sandra O' Connor, Anthony Kennedy, and conservative ideologue Antonin Scalia.
Jerry Falwell's evangelical Pac was still a fringe political entity at the time: very much the butt of the joke for the majority of Americans, for whom religious views were personal, not political. Roe vs. Wade was an iron clad decision by Supreme Court, and a distant impregnable fortress for the evangelicals who thought they had a steep hill to climb to even approach the well guarded gates. During the early eighties, the pro-life movement off-shoot 'Operation Rescue' headed by Randall Terry was mostly a case of protesters exercising civil disobedience or chaining themselves to objects near Plant Parenthood or clinics to make it difficult for the police to remove them, and getting some press in the process.
Emboldened, those early protests took a more sinister form when women patients started getting harassed, and clinics started getting threat letters while several others got bombed. The assaults got even worse when doctors started getting death threats and even killed. Though indisputably criminal, these acts did not elicit quick action among some authorities. There were even cases of sympathizing when certain law officers were of the same view as the perpetrators. All these atrocities were committed by religious zealots who defied the standing laws around women's reproductive rights, and then television personalities akin to variety show hosts jumped into the mix under the banner of 'journalism' and openly incited violence, divulged names, and addresses on-air of doctors, which got them killed.
Today, the offspring of these moronic cavemen and (literally) holier-than-thou politicians are arrogantly proselytizing their religious ideology to the rest of the nation. The definitive 'answer' to the irresolvable philosophical mystery of 'when life begins' is rather simplistically conceived by men who can't. These ignorami are further threatening our already imperiled progress on women issue. These are the same zealots who were harking back to the constitution only a few years back, and now they are slapping the constitution right in its face. They dismiss the sacrosanct separation of church and state just because there's a historically logical (though not in any way binding) reference to god on our money, and what about the fourth amendment? Disdain of women's rights and voices are subtly sanctioned under the aegis of a major political party.
When Todd Akins speaks of legitimate vs. illegitimate rape gradation... or Richard Mourdoch says God intended conception resulting from rape, as horrible as rape is, as still a 'divine gift'... or Joe Walsh thinking science is advanced enough to not require abortion to save a woman's life... or Steve King not believing someone could get pregnant from incest or statutory rape...?? It really makes ones skin crawl, and one begins to see the fatuously sanctimonious pattern of the party towards women.
When did these men acquire the gall to speak publicly in this manner? This sort of speech is tantamount to racial bigotry: in this case it happens to be against a particular gender. Only 40 years or so back, one could speak a racial slur openly and not face any consequences. It took demonstrations, bloodshed, and the passage of several laws to make (at least) open racism intolerable, and outmoded. Nobody can use the 'N' word without serious backlash and outcry. So why is it open season to speak heinously about subjugating women's rights to the whim of a few lawmakers who happen to be men? Why isn't there more of an outcry? There has to be some acquiescence on the part of both women and men for these attitudes and laws to come to pass.
I am especially puzzled by women who still favor a party that is responsible for passing most of these laws or cutting of the funds that provides basic health care needs, especially to women who are less fortunate economically. Why would you support or vote for abrogation of your rights -- right wrenched from men after millennia of struggle? The nineteenth amendment was passed less than a century ago, to correct a glaring inequality. But there are already signs that the procession of those rights is not exactly headed in the right direction.
Women's Suffrage was the law that gave women not only a direct voice in the electoral process but also gave them the ability to run for office. Although there are improvements in terms of representation in Congress, it's not enough to impede the abrogation. Sandra Day O'Connor and David Souter, much to the chagrin of the conservatives, came down on the side of Roe Vs Wade. The current crop of ideological judges, of which six are Roman Catholics, may not see the law under the same light next time around.
Instead of frittering that precious right away by supporting a party that is constantly introducing new laws to beat the country back to a pre-Roe Vs Wade era, why not spend that right wisely: Why acquiesce further and axe off the wrong side of the tree branch you are sitting on?