Every day, the news announces a new attack on women’s reproductive rights. They want to defund Planned Parenthood, strip abortion coverage from private insurance plans, and create so many hurdles to obtaining abortions that few women will be able to spare the time or raise the funds.
The fact is, GOP wingnuts are, like another paternalistic institution I’ve mentioned, in an abusive relationship with American women. And, let me be clear, the GOP wingnuts are the ones perpetrating the abuse.
According to an informal poll of callers to the National Domestic Violence Hotline reported in the New York Times, 25% of 3,000+ women who called seeking help with an abusive partner reported that the partner had in some fashion sabotaged their contraception, pressuring them to become pregnant.
The national hotline survey isn’t the only documentation that abusers frequently attempt to control the women they abuse by controlling their reproductive systems. Another more formal study, published in a peer-reviewed journal, confirmed that many women experience reproductive abuse as part of their partners’ controlling behavior.
So, women who vote for GOP candidates, we need to talk about your boyfriend.
What is the difference between a political party that would defund Planned Parenthood, the largest and most trusted provider of reproductive health services in this country, and a man who would flush your birth control pills down the toilet or poke holes in condoms?
What is the difference between a politician forcing you to schedule a second appointment a day before your abortion to see and listen to a sonogram, and an abusive partner forcing you to have sex without contraception even when you do not want to become pregnant?
The solution should be easy. Your spouse abuses you? Just leave. Your state representative seems determined to legislate your rights out of existence? Just vote for someone else.
And yet, here we are. Very few women in abusive relationships can “just leave.” And, exhibit A, Rick Perry, who isn’t just abusing women, but going after our kids, too.
What should we do?
Maybe we need to focus on the activism building around school cuts. In other words, maybe you could stay when he was just abusing you, but now that he’s abusing your children . . .
In Texas, at least, the Democrats who can save our schools are likely to also support comprehensive, non-abusive public health policy.
Pro-choice activists, admittedly already tapped out with all of the nonsense we’re fighting, need to partner with the parent committees forming to fight these alarming school budget cuts.
Maybe that’s the coalition that can do it, that can take us out from under the thumb of these abusive Republicans. We have to try it, because there’s too much at stake.