Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pregnancy, Yes; Kitchen Duty, Optional

Yesterday, complaining about Democrats supporting a woman's right to contraception, Rush Limbaugh told a caller "You got close when you equated contraception with abortion.  It's women's rights.  It is a way to set up the notion that Republicans are Neanderthals and don't like women and oppose women's rights."

Not all Republicans are Neanderthals.       And not all Republicans oppose women's rights.    But it is a malady inflicting an increasing number of GOP politicians.

"Personhood" legislation, which would define a fetus as a person and thereby prohibit hormonal birth control, is moving through the Virginia legislature.    In October, as Mother Jones' Nick Baumann reminds us, congressional Republicans unsuccessfully had promoted legislation which would have resulted in defining legal personhood as when a sperm meets an egg, which might have prohibited hormonal birth control or barrier devices that prevent zygotes from implanting in the uterine wall.     Recently, GOP heartthrob Marco Rubio introduced the  Establishment of Religion Act Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which would allow any employer to refuse to provide birth control if he or she cited a religious reason.     Similar legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives and in the Missouri legislature.

Last night, Rachel Maddow (transcript here) commented      

In Virginia, the Republicans backing the personhood measure in that state had a chance to take the birth control argument off the table entirely.    A Democratic Delegate Vivian Watts tried to attach an amendment to the Virginia bill that would declare nothing in that bill could be construed to outlaw any form of legal contraception. Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates voted no on that by a huge margin. The vote was 64 to 34 against taking birth control out of the equation.  

So, in Virginia, Republicans had a wide open opportunity to say this personhood thing, this bill is only about banning abortion, we do not want to ban birth control.

They had the opportunity to say that, and they rejected it, hugely.

Virginia Republicans have watched this personhood measure go down over and over again across the country in large part because it`s seen as a way to ban birth control. But they`re not contesting that idea. Ban birth control, sure, sounds like a plan.  That is what passed the Virginia House of Delegates today, the anti- abortion, anti-birth control personhood bill, and now it`s headed over to  the Virginia senate. In recent years, the senate in Virginia has been kind of the brakes for this sort of legislation in the commonwealth of Virginia.  The Senate was under Democratic control had been a cooling off chamber for Virginia conservatives` really intrusive big government proposals on social issues like this.

But now, Republicans are in control of the state senate and Virginia politics watchers say this personhood bill has a pretty good chance in the senate. If it passes the house and passes the senate, Virginia`s uber conservative governor, Bob McDonnell, will say nothing more than that he plans to take a look at it if it reaches his desk.

But wait, there`s more! Not only are Republicans of Virginia moving to pass a bill that could ban birth control, that they explicitly acknowledge could ban birth control -- Virginia Republicans have are already passed in both chambers a bill that would have the state government force Virginia women into having 
medically unnecessary, unwanted vaginal ultrasounds. That is a physical penetration of the body, ultrasound, by state order, without your consent. That would be forced on you as a condition of your being allowed to have an abortion in the state of Virginia.

The Virginia legislature no doubt has a fan in the Repub flavor of the month, Rick Santorum, who in early January informed ABC's Jake Tapper that he disapproves of the Supreme Court decision(s) prohibiting states from outlawing contraception because

The state has a right to do that, I have never questioned that the state has a right to do that. It is not a constitutional right, the state has the right to pass whatever statues they have.That is the thing I have said about the activism of the Supreme Court, they are creating rights, and they should be left up to the people to decide.

In October, Santorum had told a conservative blogger that contraception is

not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. They’re supposed to be within marriage, they are supposed to be for purposes that are, yes, conjugal, but also [inaudible], but also procreative. That’s the perfect way that a sexual union should happen. We take any part of that out, we diminish the act. And if you can take one part out that’s not for purposes of procreation, that’s not one of the reasons, then you diminish this very special bond between men and women, so why can’t you take other parts of that out? And all of a sudden, it becomes deconstructed to the point where it’s simply pleasure. And that’s certainly a part of it—and it’s an important part of it, don’t get me wrong—but there’s a lot of things we do for pleasure, and this is special, and it needs to be seen as special.

And while the states are precluded from banning artificial birth control, a President Santorum would not be so reticent.    "One of the things I will talk about that no President has talked about before," Santorum told the interviewer, "is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea. Many in the Christian faith have said, 'Well, that’s okay. Contraception’s okay.'

Ranting and raving, Limbaugh today maintained

I guarantee you right now, the whole point of this contraception stuff started last week is to make sure that if Santorum get this Republican nomination that's what he's going to be known for and of course the theme of that is Santorum hates women, Republicans hate women, Republicans have no respect for women.  Republicans want women in the kitchen constantly pregnant, blah, blah, whatever it is. 

"Blah, Blah, whatever it is" is one of the most intelligent arguments Rush Limbaugh has made in a long time.     Meanwhile, Rick Santorum and most Republicans probably don't hate women; they may even love women.      As for the rest of Limbaugh's comment, it's a fairly accurate synopsis of the contemporary  Republican cultural agenda.

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