This Ruthless World

Adventures in absurdity

Archive for the category “reproductive rights”


The Burning of Sodomites (unknown artist, German, 1482)
My previous post, Teabagging Jesus, provoked a lengthy discussion in the comments, which devolved into a general argument about the supposedly unfocused and shifting nature of liberalism. At one point, a guest commented that people who harass confront (let’s use a polite term here) women in front of abortion clinics are motivated only by a good-faith concern for those women’s souls, not maliciousness. It’s important that we all understand that, the guest contended. After some reflection, I decided the topic deserves its own post. Read more…


The Long 1950’s … Behind the Iron Curtain

Yuri Pimenov, "A Wedding on Tomorrow's Street" (1962)As someone who grew up in a totalitarian Communist state, nothing infuriates me more than the incessant conservative droning-on about progressives being “communist”, “socialist” and “Stalinist”. People who say these things use such words as mere slurs, not much different than calling someone an asswipe, and of course, they betray both a profound ignorance of history and a great deal of contempt for it. But more than that, they’ve got it completely backwards. Truth is, American conservatives have remarkably a lot in common with Russian communists: the same obsession with ideological purity, the same irrational intolerance towards loyal dissent, the same prioritizing of ideology over practicality, the same preparedness to sacrifice liberties, human dignity and lives for the sake of ideological totems, the same clash-of-civilizations thinking, the same pretensions at worldwide cultural and political hegemony. And of course, the modern American conservative and the Russian communist of the bygone era share a deep and abiding dislike of people having unauthorized sex in pursuit of “instant gratification”.

Enter Congress’ resident comedian, Rep. Louie Gohmert, because of course he doth enter, for how could he not? After all, it’s only been a few hours since the last eruption of stupid from the right-wingers, and we haven’t heard from Gohmert in, like, days. With a name that sounds like a practical joke and every word coming out of his mouth worthy of an Onion editorial, he provides an endless parade of stupidity and ignorance, which is probably why he was elected in the first place. His latest installment revolves around the idea that teaching school children about human biology and reproductive health would turn us into the USSR. Read more…

Isn’t it time for freedom FROM religion?

When Republican-controlled state legislatures began enacting laws allowing pharmacists to withhold contraception, we were told that druggists’ “freedom of religion” necessitated imposing needless inconveniences on patients, including rape victims. When cases began cropping up of pharmacists not only refusing contraception, but holding on to prescriptions, we were told their “freedom of religion” was more important than whatever damages resulted to patients from having to obtain duplicate ones. When Republicans were screeching about the rule requiring parochial employers to provide insurance for contraception, we were told that religious people’s “freedom of religion” was more important than others’ autonomy, health and even life.

And so it’s no surprise that it has now come to this: a crazed religious fundamentalist jail guard, whose “freedom of religion” required nothing less than an ability to force a detained rape victim — a victim of a violent crime totally and absolutely within the guard’s power — to bear her rapist’s child. Read more…


Breaking News: Moral Conservatives are [Blanking] [Blanks]. Also: V*a*g*i*n*a.

As you probably have heard, last week, a female Michigan lawmaker was banned from speaking by that state’s House Republicans, whose tender sensibilities were offended when she uttered the word “vagina”. This recalls to mind last year’s incident in the Florida House of Representatives, when Republicans threw a hissy fit over one of their Democrat colleagues saying the word “uterus”. Read more…


Cutting Off The Nose To Spite The Face

The latest insane flurry of right-wing efforts to roll back women’s reproductive rights and push women out of civil participation and public discourse has left many liberals certain that come November, Republican women will leave the fold in droves. I am not so sure. There have already been and will continue to be some defections among women who are slightly right-of-center, but the trickle will not become a flood. I do hope history will prove me wrong, but I doubt it will happen in this political climate. Read more…


An Argument I Wish Liberals Would Not Make So Much

As the debate over contraception coverage continues, there is an argument that supporters of such coverage frequently rely on, that I believe should not be the centerpiece of the pro-coverage case. At best, it should be offered as a side dish. The argument is that some women need birth control pills for reasons other than preventing pregnancy.

Look, I know that a lot of women, even virgins, take hormonal birth control for certain gynecological problems, to control cramps, etc. Still, the primary purpose of such medication is to prevent pregnancy, and the majority of women who take such pills, take it for this reason alone. To rely on the off-label use as a justification for mandating coverage implicitly concedes the wingnut argument that sexually active women, even married women, should just “hold an aspirin between their knees” if they don’t want to get pregnant. It also concedes their argument that sex for pleasure, as opposed to procreation, is a morally reprehensible “lifestyle” choice that should not be countenanced by making birth control more cheaply available.

I strongly disagree with such a stance, for reasons stated below: Read more…


The False Distinction Between “Illness” and “Lifestyle”

There is a relatively new argument in the conservative arsenal of talking points as to why health care plans should not cover contraception: because pregnancy is not a “disease”, and so preventing it is not a medical issue, but a “lifestyle issue”. That’s right: conservatives have become so deranged, sex is now a “lifestyle”. Next thing you know, we’ll be hearing dire warnings about the “sex-haver agenda”.

But let’s think about the logical implications of this new conservative principle, that there should be no insurance coverage for “lifestyle”, only for legitimate “medical problems” over which the individual has absolutely no control. One obvious implication is that, since “pregnancy is not a disease”, there should be no insurance coverage for pregnancy, child birth or post-partum care. After all, having children is, like sex, a lifestyle choice, and pregnancy is “natural”. In fact, since there appears to be a sizeable contingent of moral conservatives who believe that all women who have sex — even within marriage and even for procreation — are irresponsible sluts who must be held accountable for using their lady-parts, I would not be surprised if there is conservative support for forcing women to endure painful and dangerous child-bearing, just as God intended. So I do suspect that in arguing that “pregnancy is not a disease”, conservatives are laying the groundwork for denying care related to child-bearing, not just contraception. Read more…


Freedom of Religion? Did Someone Say Something About Freedom of Religion?

As you are doubtless aware, last week, a group of House Republicans, led by Darrell Issa (R-Cal), brutally gang-raped the First Amendment. With “yeehaw’s” and everything. And in the time-honored tradition of ideological rapists, they motivated their heinous conduct by their supposed love of liberty. Not everyone’s liberty, of course (don’t be silly) — just the liberty of authoritarian men to control and punish sexually active women, and the liberty of fundamentalist religious officials (similarly authoritarian men, all) to be above the law. I make no apologies for my choice of strong language, for what happened last week was the Founding Fathers’ worst nightmare come to life: a bunch of clergy explicitly dictating policy in Washington. And by “dictating”, I mean “bodily present in Congress and telling said Congress what laws it may or may not pass, in a hearing whose whole premise was the idea that public policy must comply with clerical law in order to pass Constitutional muster”. Read more…


“Objectification”: You Keep Saying That Word …

When I started my blog, I made a pact with myself that I would not use it to attack other people’s blogs. I therefore will not include a link in this post to some of the things that have riled me up in this latest contraception controversy. Instead, I will observe generally that religious conservatives are copiously misusing the term “objectification” in an attempt to mask their fear of and contempt for female sexuality and sex in general. Specifically, a spurious charge is made that the ability to have sex “without consequences” leads to women being objectified.

I should note that objectification, in general, is one of the most misunderstood concepts in modern political and social discourse. Through basic intellectual laziness, people — especially people hostile to women’s equality — have come to equate objectification with lust. This is the infuriating “logic” behind the claim that the birth control pill leads to objectification: that men will get to have sex with women purely for pleasure. This highly traditionalist view presumes that male desire in and of itself is degrading to a woman, and that any sexual expression is by its very nature a painful sacrifice. Marriage and motherhood, therefore, are the only things that allow a woman to save face, as it were, against the humiliation of a man’s lust for her body. Religious conservatives ominously warn that the availability of birth control leads to men having sex for pleasure, and they fully expect women to be scared by this. And when women don’t get scared, they, of course, bemoan the sorry state of morals in our society. Read more…


Religious Freedom: Does the Constitution Really Favor Religious People Over Others?

No, it doesn’t. Still, this hasn’t stopped the outcry over the recently enacted Federal regulation that requires religious employers — such as parochial schools, church-run hospitals and “faith-based” social service organizations — to cover the cost of birth control for their employees. The complaint is that this act by the current Administration is an assault on religious freedom. The legal question is, how much religious freedom does the US Constitution guarantee, exactly?

In an effort to be a nicer person, I’ve decided to scrap my original plan to begin this post with a crude hypothetical. I’ll just point out the obvious. Read more…


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