So now we finally know what this election cycle’s Republicans-are-out-to-get-you campaign of hysteria will focus on, “women’s reproductive rights.” It’s funny because as abortion has grown less popular in public opinion and the pro-life/personhood movement has grown more popular, Democrats have assured us that social issues don’t matter anymore. They said that it was a dead issue no one cared about. But in a race where the incumbent can’t run on his record and the media can’t recreate the mania that carried him into the White House, the left needs a boogie man. When they were sure that Mitt Romney was going to be the nominee, they focused on the imaginary fight between Wall Street and Main Street, the 1% vs. the 99%. But as Rick Santorum has emerged as a real contender for the Presidency, suddenly, liberals decided that the economy wasn’t so important after all. By their calculations, the markets will be looking super-awesome by the end of the year anyways. So, why worry about it? Now, after years of telling us that no one cares, Democrats have rediscovered a passion for social issues. Or, to put it more honestly, they have pounced on an opportunity to make wild accusations and whip the public into a frenzy of ignorance. It’s all over the news: evil, rich, white, Christian men are trying to put women in their place. They want a ban on condoms and are encouraging doctors to perform cruel tests on any woman who dares to exercise her “right to family planning.” It should be obvious that such claims are not even remotely connected to reality, but the Democrats have managed to convince a large portion of the public that this is indeed true. They believe that they will be able to ride this wave right through the 2012 election. And if Republicans continue to merely play defense or avoid the topic all together, they will. But it needn’t be so. Democrats are the ones with radical views on these issues and if conservative politicians would merely explain the facts, the voters would see that.
If you have turned on the TV or plugged into any sort of social media in the last week, you were probably bombarded with hysterical claims like this one from the Coalition to Protect Women’s Health “This past Thursday, women all over the country saw the Republicans mount an all-out war on reproductive freedom.” Then, you were asked to sign something to protect “women’s health.” These sites are filled with nonsense rantings about politicians and churches teaming up to stop female access to medicine. And what’s worse, judging from the comments floating around on Twitter, many people have accepted these claims at face value. They actually believe that Republicans are currently engaged in some sort of battle to end contraceptive use and make sure that all women are barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. It’s actually pretty sad, especially when you consider just how easy it is to expose these lies. For one thing, no one, I repeat no one (not even Rick Santorum) in the Republican party has shown even the mildest interest in banning contraceptives. No one. The hearings in regards to the contraceptive mandate are about whether or not we ought to be required to provide contraception, including abortifacients, at no cost to the user. It has nothing to do with stopping the distribution of birth control pills, nothing to do with forcing religion on people, and absolutely nothing to do with a battle between men and women. Those claims are nothing more than an attempt to confuse and frighten people, particularly those people who are prone to repeating catchy little sayings without giving them much thought. For example, in the last two weeks how many people have you heard say, “men get Viagra, and we just want equal rights?” The two issues aren’t even remotely related. Viagra corrects a part of the body that isn’t working properly, birth control does not. More importantly, the government doesn’t demand that insurance companies provide Viagra with no copay. Clearly, equal rights is the last thing feminists want in this debate. It’s all a smoke screen. The real issue surrounding this dispute can be broken down into a simple question. Can the government a.) force an employer to violate his religious beliefs and b.) force the public to provide an elective prescription at no cost to the user?
One of the ways this issue has become so distorted, is with stats like this one: “Two Thirds of Americans (67%) think that a women’s choice is more important than her employer’s.” The problem is, that is a remarkably misleading statement. No one is suggesting that a “women’s choice” ought to be turned over to her employer. No one is suggesting that an employer can force “his religion on a woman’s body.” But what we are suggesting is that no one has the right to force their wants onto the employer. A business does not exist to provide workers with every one of their heart’s desires. A business exists to make a profit. The employer takes the risk of investing in a company. He spends the time growing that company. He may then choose to offer payment and benefits to others who wish to seek employment there. If someone wants more than what he offers or they want something that he is morally opposed to, he can either negotiate or tell the applicant to take a hike. Yes, we have a few labor restrictions like minimum wage, but allowing employees, even empowered feminist employees, to demand that an employer pay for something just because they want sets a dangerous precedent. Now, mix in a violation of his right to free religious exercise and you have a downright terrifying precedent.
Secondly, there is no such thing as “free contraceptives.” Someone has to pay for it. And by someone, I mean everyone. The idea that all of us should be forced into an expensive insurance program to cover someone else’s copay for an elective prescriptions is outrageous. You can’t get a prescription for heart medication without a copay! There’s no logical reason to do this. Liberals like to use bogus stats like “98% of sexually active women use contraceptives,” and then turn around and tell us that women don’t have access to birth control! Even if it were true that many women can’t afford any sort of birth control ( which it isn’t), that doesn’t mean that he rest of us have an obligation to buy it for them. Legally, I have the “right” to spend my weekends gambling into the wee hours of the morning at a casino. However, I don’t gamble because I can’t afford to lose. Does that mean that the public should be forced to pay for gambler’s insurance so that I can exercise my legal right to waste money without fear of the consequences? Of course not. How about if everyone was forced to pay for gym memberships for those of us who wish we could eat lots of chocolate without getting fat? Hey, it’s my right to eat chocolate. Don’t try to force your diet on me, just give me the money for the gym membership! It sounds silly, but it’s no different from what we are fighting about in the contraceptives mandate. Just because you have the right to engage in certain behaviors doesn’t mean that the public has a financial obligation to shield you from the risks of those choices. If you don’t want a child and you can’t afford contraceptives, you have a decision to make. Gamble or abstain, it’s your call.
The second source of the if-men-could-get-pregnant-this-wouldn’t-be-happening frenzy, is the new Virgina law which would require an ultrasound before an abortion takes place. I have written before about conservatives unwillingness to address the issue of abortion head-on. We are often so afraid of seeming cold and uncaring that we hesitate to defend the one truly compassionate position, the one that protects innocent life. But the issue of requiring an ultrasound before an abortion takes place, should be a no-brainer. The law requires that a woman be given an ultrasound and shown the images before she goes through with an abortion. Studies show that 80% of women who are planning on aborting their babies, change their mind when they see an ultrasound (claims that a woman doesn’t change her mind after an ultrasound include ones only the doctor sees). Anyone who has ever had a surgical procedure of any kind knows that there is always an extensive testing and prescreening phase. If 80% of the people going through a prescreening for an appendectomy decided it wasn’t necessary, we would hold that test in high regard. Hasn’t the President told us we need to stop unnecessary medical procedures? Didn’t he even say that we should be giving old people pain pills instead of life-saving operations? Why then is an ultrasound that discourages people from an elective procedure a bad thing?
Besides, even if no one changed their mind, it has always been an excepted principle that nobody should ever undergo any surgery without having the procedure explained in detail, X-rays and all. Imagine if you saw a doctor for lump under your skin and he immediately said “give me $350 in cash and I will take care of this thing before lunch time.” Every alarm bell in your head would be sounding. What is it? Is it a tumor? Where is it? Is it cancerous? What kind of surgery? Shouldn’t I be given a day to think it over? Why is this guy pushing for surgery before we’ve had a real in-depth discussion? You would assume that the doctor was either a quack or a scam-artist. That’s not how medicine works. We expect a doctor to tell us exactly what he’s doing, where he’s doing it, how he’s doing it, what the effects will be, and what the alternatives are. The idea that it is somehow cruel to require a “physician” to fully explain exactly what he will be removing from a woman during her scheduled abortion is ludicrous. Liberals have always claimed that this is nothing more than a routine medical procedure, like getting a mole removed. Why then are we told not to talk about it, not to explain it, and for goodness sakes not to show anyone what is about to happen? Instead of letting them paint this as some outlandish and punitive requirement, our leaders ought to be out there demanding that they answer that very question. If you want to call it a medical procedure than why can’t we treat it like one? And the distortions don’t end there. The left has not confined themselves to phony outrage over doctors providing women with information, they’ve also thrown around laughable exaggerations of the intrusive nature of these ultrasounds. Dahlia Lithwick of Slate Magazine, claimed that the bill requires a transvaginal ultrasound and such forced “penetration” would “constitute rape.” Her article went on to be quoted by every liberal in the U.S. including pundits on major news networks and the web pages of activist groups like Think Progress. Nevermind the fact that her original article had a list of corrections added to the bottom including a note that under no definition of rape does this qualify as “state-sanctioned rape,” the press took her analysis and ran with it. “What is this, the Taliban now?,” asked Joy Behar (Yes Joy, it’s the Taliban. Except for the part where they stone women instead of giving them x-rays). First of all, the bill makes no requirement as to which type of ultrasound is to be used. Second, the procedure is voluntary. No one is forcing these women to have an abortion. And I hate to be graphic, but the small probe used to capture images in an ultrasound is nothing compared to the intrusive nature of the vacuum hose used to suck out a baby. Thirdly, almost all abortionists, including those working for Planned Parenthood, already require an ultrasound before they begin the procedure. They must determine the size and age of the baby before they can know which method will be most effective in killing it. The difference is that they don’t typically show the ultrasound to the mother. Again, I ask if you have ever had an ultrasound or an X-ray for so much as a sprained ankle without the doctor showing you the results? The fact is, abortion enthusiasts know that the more informed people are about abortion, the less they think it’s just like getting a wart removed. The fury coming from the left is not about respecting “a women’s right to make an informed decision with her doctor.” It is about keeping frightened and vulnerable mothers in the dark so that abortionists can keep the cash flowing.
Republican politicians, particularly those who ran on a conservative platform, have to stop avoiding an honest discussion on these issues. In the mid 90’s, the country was overwhelmingly pro-abortion. Today, thanks in large part to greater access to information about the realities of abortion, the American voters are pro-life by about a 10 point margin. The Democrats can’t afford to run as just the pro-choice party anymore because abortion grows less popular all the time. Instead, they have to paint the other side as the anti-women party. Yes, it’s irritating, but if minds were changed by exposing the truth about abortion, then more can be changed by speaking candidly about these social issues. This is why conservative politicians can’t let these distortions go unchallenged. No, we don’t want women to be punished for their “mistakes” for the rest of their lives. Forgetting to carry the one on your math test is a mistake, backing the car over the garbage can is a mistake. Sleeping with someone who you don’t think of as father material at a time when you’re not all that into the “mom thing,” is a choice. It’s not as though you thought you were baking a cake, but read the recipe wrong and ended up pregnant. It was a choice. Likewise, using birth control is a choice. If you want it, you are legally free to buy it. But no one is obligated to buy it for you just because you want it. These are the arguments that we should be making. When liberals start the “my body, my choice” mantra, we ought to say “Yes, it’s your body, your choice, your consequences.” Most Americans believe that no one should have to pay for someone else’s choice to engage in risky behavior. They don’t believe that an unborn baby should pay for the choices of his parents and they certainly don’t think that they themselves should have to pay for the choices of a stranger. If Republicans really want to win Independents and conservative Democrats, than they shouldn’t run away from this issue. They should boldly state their views. Doctors have an obligation to keep their patients informed, business owners have the same right to religious freedom as the rest of us, and those who make risky decisions can’t demand that society pay for them. It’s not a radical message. It’s not even a very exciting message. It’s just common sense. And there is nothing that liberal Democrats fear more than the American electorate getting a big old dose of common sense.