The war on women escalates: Rush Limbaugh calls law student Sandra Fluke a slut

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If you live anywhere beyond the United States — as many of you do — thank your lucky stars if you’re a woman who cares about reproductive rights.

Ba-boom!

That’s the sound of freedoms cracking and crumbling under constant, daily, escalating barrages of laws proposed, amended and passed restricting our rights to abortion and birth control.

And, hey, whenever politicians pause for breath, right-wing radio show talk hosts like Rush Limbaugh are eager to pick up their cudgels and start beating women bloody with their verbal abuse.

Like this:

What does it say about the college coed Susan [sic] Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex.

She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We’re the pimps.

The johns, that’s right. We would be the johns — no! We’re not the johns. Well — yeah, that’s right. Pimp’s not the right word.

OK, so, she’s not a slut. She’s round-heeled. I take it back.

Women in the United States are living in the most toxic era I can remember since moving here in 1988. We joke nervously on Facebook about when burquas will be required.

But it’s not funny.

Thank God, on April 28, women will be marching in Washington D.C. to make our voices audible — and our bodies visible — above the misogynistic and appalling din of the religious right and the politicians they fund.

It’s become so bad that one of the few remaining moderate Republicans, a woman who supports the right to abortion, Olympia Snowe, will not be running again. Like all of us, she’s fed up.

Reported The New York Times:

“Everybody’s got to rethink how we approach legislating and governance in the United States Senate,” Ms. Snowe said in an interview on Wednesday. She shook her head at how “we’ve miniaturized the process in the United States Senate,” no longer allowing lawmakers to shape or change legislation and turning every vote into a take-it-or-leave-it showdown intended to embarrass the opposition.

The vote set for Thursday, framed as a choice between contraceptive coverage and religious freedom, was not the reason Ms. Snowe made her announcement, she said. Her retirement decision was bigger than any one vote. But people familiar with her thinking say the re-emergence of such hot-button social issues helped nudge her to the exit.

Georgia Chomas, a cousin of the senator who described herself as more like a sister, said social conservatives and Tea Party activists in Maine were hounding her at home, while party leaders in Washington had her hemmed in and steered the legislative agenda away from the matters she cared about.

As I posted last week, the American economy remains in the toilet. Having officially left Afghanistan, remaining American troops are being targeted there and killed by people we’ve spent billions trying to help.

Women’s rights look like the easiest, softest next target. Women have become complacent, people tell me, persuaded that the battles of the 1970s are long-over, our freedoms won and secure.

I think not!

Aux armes, citoyennes…formez vos bataillons!

New Oklahoma Law Further Restricts Access To Abortion

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Oklahoma’s new abortion law is overly invasive, says a report on NPR.

In Oklahoma, a new law requires any woman seeking an abortion to first answer dozens of personal questions, including why she wants the procedure. That information, names omitted, would eventually be posted on a state Web site.

Those who support the measure say it will help them better understand why women are seeking abortions. Abortion rights advocates call the law intimidating and invasive, and this week, they are challenging it in court. Legal experts say the law is another test of how far states can go to regulate abortion.

A Necessary Law, Or Intolerable?

The survey in Oklahoma’s new abortion law includes some of the following questions: Would having a baby dramatically change a woman’s life, or interfere with her job or education? Is she unemployed, or unsure of a relationship with the father?

How can we counsel, how can we treat, how can we offer counseling to mothers to be that are choosing abortion, if we don’t have hard-core facts?

– Oklahoma state Sen. Todd Lamb

“This is not going in and getting a wart removed. This is a procedure that ends a human life,” says Oklahoma state Rep. Dan Sullivan. He says the law is valid and necessary.

“And because it’s a special procedure, we believe that it’s appropriate to be able to find out why these are going on and if there is something that we can do to change that,” Sullivan says.

But abortion rights activists call the law — and the survey — intolerable….

Forty-six states have laws that require clinics and hospitals to submit some kind of reports about the abortions they perform. But clinics in Oklahoma say this law is an invasion of privacy that goes far beyond abortion reporting requirements in any other state.

Linda Meek, executive administrator of Reproductive Services in Tulsa, Okla., says it’s discouraging and intrusive to patients.

“If they want to reduce the number of abortions, then they need to concentrate on educating women about preventing unwanted pregnancies, educating them about emergency contraception, birth control — and making birth control more accessible,” Meek says.

Abortion rights groups also fear that women could be identified based on the information they provide, especially women who live in Oklahoma’s small rural communities.

How much should a woman be asked before she can have an abortion? Are any questions fair?

A Searing Letter to The NYT Explains Why Women Need Access To Safe Abortions

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The letters page of The New York Times is almost always dominated by confident male voices. Women — why? — rarely take up more space in this coveted bit of real estate. This letter today, from a woman who had her abortion on a veterinarian’s table in 1962, left me wanting to cry, and to share it more widely:

A Pregnant Pause” (Week in Review, Nov. 29) gives an incredibly accurate picture of the generation gap on abortion rights, one that I had trouble understanding until I read your article.

I am nearing 70. In 1962, as a married lady of 20 with one more year of college to go for my degree, our birth control failed. I was pregnant. We were frantic. My husband and I were barely surviving financially, and we were struggling to support ourselves. If we could have supported a child, we would not have been using birth control.

We had a friend, a veterinarian, who offered to help us. I climbed onto the dog table, weeping, my husband holding my hand. After the procedure I hemorrhaged and we rushed to the emergency room. I told them the story, just leaving out how the hemorrhaging started, and they classified it as a “spontaneous abortion.”

Our lives went on, we’re still happily married, and we have two successful adult children. But as I watch the assault on reproductive rights, my heart is still filled with dread, and my memory returns to that morning on the dog table.

I hope no young woman ever has to handle her reproductive choice as I was forced to. They can make any law they want to make, but they can never make a woman have a baby. We will do what we have to do, and for today’s young, access to abortion must remain safe, affordable and legal.

Barbara Russakov
Anaheim Hills, Calif., Nov. 29, 2009