The North Carolina state Senate has voted on a measure that would add more restrictions on abortions. The anti-abortion measures were tacked onto a Sharia law ban even though there is no Sharia law in the United States. Fear upon fear for the Fourth of July.
"They're doing it quietly on 4th of July weekend because they've seen what's going on in Texas and know that women will turn out," Melissa Reed, VP of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood Health Systems, said. The bill requires abortion clinics to meet standards for licensure of ambulatory surgical centers. The bill would also require doctors to be present when women take the oral drug RU486 that can terminate a pregnancy preventing the attachment of a fertilized ovum to the uterine wall.
In Ohio Gov. John Kasich, flanked by six men, signed stringent abortion restrictions into law as part of the state's new budget Sunday night. There were no women involved in the final part of the budget process. Where was the diversity? Not just for women, but for diversity in general?
The new abortion provisions will make it harder for family planning groups like Planned Parenthood to receive federal funding. The bill requires doctors to perform ultrasounds whether medically needed or not. One provision prevents abortion clinics from having written transfer agreements with public hospitals. Ohio requires surgical abortion providers to have such transfer agreements so that the clinic can easily transport a patient to the closest hospital if needed. By preventing clinics from having those agreements, the bill would effectively force many to close. This is freedom?
Ohio's new abortion restrictions came just days after state senator Wendy Davis, D-Texas, successfully filibustered proposed anti-abortion regulations in her state. But those regulations were back on the table this week as Texas began a special legislative session, and Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, has vowed that this time, "it will become law." He is determined to win! Five other states, Alabama, Indiana, Mississippi, Kansas and South Dakota, have quietly passed GOP-sponsored abortion legislation that takes effect this week.
This relentless battle advancing like wildfire across the states is fueled by fear. One man said, "Abortion is a stain on the fabric of our nation. Our country can be healed. ... In God's timing, it will happen if we remain faithful." This relentless "battle" seems to have less and less to do with children, or even with birth. The entanglement of faith and freedom and fear on this Fourth of July rings with emotion. But what is the fear?
What is there to win? No woman wants to "win" by having to have an abortion. Do the primarily white male legislators fear losing control? Losing political contributions? Do men fear losing out to women who really do need freedom for health care of their own bodies?
The radical nature of forced vaginal ultrasounds becomes a weapon to "win a war." But what war? And who is the enemy? I am a woman of faith who cherishes birth and children and this nation. And I am afraid of the fear that would violate and victimize women and children.
There have been a few legislative initiatives to require equal restrictions upon men's bodies and sexual freedoms, but most have been received in jest. Seriously, conception needs both sperm and egg. What if across this nation, state by state, we worked together for responsible, loving, caring conception? Instead, deeply rooted fear has manifest itself in erroneous information that a woman's body somehow "takes care of the situation" in the case of rape. Legislation rules to punish the incest and rape victim with little mention of legislation to punish those who rape or perpetrate incest. Men who have sex outside of monogamous marriage are also a danger. Where are the advertisements with that warning alongside those that boost testosterone?
What would it mean to promote sex education for young men and women that is accurate and positive and includes the faith foundations of all, not just some people on the religious right?
The Supreme Court rulings handed down last week were diverse in content and outcome; however one could find a connecting theme of freedom and fear in them as well. Striking down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of the Civil Rights Movement has huge implications. Voter suppression is on the rise. Why fear the freedom of all to vote?
Concerning marriage equality, there was the fear that marriage of LGBT people would diminish marriages of heterosexual people. Heterosexual people do not need to be afraid of gay and lesbian people.
So what is the fear on this Fourth of July? Fear that if all people, of every color, ethnicity and creed vote, Caucasians will have less power? Fear that if women have access to health care and choice and become full partners with men, men will somehow have less control, less power?
Freedom for some needs to mean freedom for all. Of that we need not be afraid. Planned Parenthood, planned partnership. Freedom from fear.