“We are seeing a Republican primary that is absolutely a race to the bottom for women, where they are trying to outdo themselves on who would be the worst president for women.”- Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood
Unless you have lived under a rock for the past few years, you’re more than likely to be aware of the maneuvers most conservative candidates will pull to ensure a couple of votes. While stunts usually shift in cultural fashion over the years, one issue always remains in the spotlight of these campaign promises: the hopeful overturn and restriction of Roe v. Wade.
The Roe v. Wade debate has been raging since the ’80s, when Reagan began a crusade on the legislation, backed by religious groups, as well the nation’s already growing hatred of the newly-christened pariahs, “welfare queens.” Conservatives have always used the hot button issue in reactionary politics, relying on securing votes and support through moral based policy, racing to find the loudest way to advance their opposition.
However, with the new election year comes a new stance on privacy and access; moreover, reproductive privacy and access. Instead of the normal targeting of just Roe v. Wade, candidates like Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have recently begun campaigning against birth control access by expressing support for a state’s right to decide whether or not birth control is an option. Ron Paul, patron saint to libertarians everywhere, is a fierce opponent to reproductive healthcare stating that “as a man of faith committed to protecting life” he considers it the “the most important issue of our age.” Rick Perry has described his vehement opposition to those seeking an abortion even in cases of rape or incest, and Mitt Romney went so far as to write an editorial for USA Today promising that, if elected, he would tackle the debt by cutting Title X funding for family planning groups (listed as abortion groups, even though H.R.3. prohibits funding for abortion), eradicating services for an estimated 5 million people, a position that’s strangely convenient, considering his stance in the not too distant past.
While these could be considered extreme views by even centrist Republicans, they are effectively being used by frontrunners to ensure the votes of the extreme right, and also not a rarity among any of the current candidates (almost all GOP nominees signed the major anti-abortion pledge, the Personhood Republican Presidential Candidate Pledge). Rachel Maddow echoed this fact, when on Monday evening, she expressed her own concern over the growing attacks on reproductive health:
“What is most remarkable about this year’s Republican presidential field is this thing of opposing popular forms of birth control is the majority position among the entire field of candidates.”
For embracing a political system that values privacy and personal ownership, the GOP lineup seems more interested in expressing extreme moral disapproval dashed with a return to “the good old days,” the ones where there was no such thing as access to a “safe” abortion or birth control was inaccessible. You know, when spitting out babies was the only purpose of many (unless you were considered “deviant,” “promiscuous,” or “at-risk,” in which case, you were forcibly sterilized).
Even more concerning is that this platform comes fresh off a year where 1,100 pieces of legislature were introduced by 50 states to counter the legality of Roe v. Wade. The Guttmacher Institute reported that:
“¦135 of these provisions had been enacted in 36 states, an increase from the 89 enacted in 2010 and the 77 enacted in 2009. (Note: This analysis refers to reproductive health and rights-related “provisions,” rather than bills or laws, since bills introduced and eventually enacted in the states contain multiple relevant provisions.
Fully 68% of these new provisions – 92 in 24 states – restrict access to abortion services, a striking increase from last year, when 26% of new provisions restricted abortion. The 92 new abortion restrictions enacted in 2011 shattered the previous record of 34 adopted in 2005.
In a recent press e-mail, Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, aptly stated that the extreme measures suggested by the candidates would not only be harmful, but that:
“the majority of voters are going to be women. And they are going to be paying attention to how candidates stand on women’s health issues”¦ Republican women who support Planned Parenthood are very, very disturbed about the extreme nature of the Republican primary, and wondering where they are going to go.”
One has to admit that these days, anyone who has ever needed an abortion, Plan B, or birth control, are finding themselves being either coddled or slighted at every angle. Reproductive healthcare and all its entitlements are a hot election chip, with many barreling down on who can present the most conservative platform on what’s the best decision between you and your doctor. While there is a stark difference between Obama’s seemingly passive stance on the recent Plan B decision and Romney’s all out suggestion of letting states decide whether or not birth control can even be accessible, one thing is for certain: there is no such thing as privacy when making a reproductive health decision. Even now, if we travel to the safest of clinics, the most liberal of health care providers or pharmacists, our decisions are still under scrutiny, up for question, or not even possible.
So until reproductive healthcare exists no longer as bonus points for elections, there is no such thing as privacy. That’s something that’s only available to GOP nominees and corporations.