The Global War Against Women omnibus: gay v. women’s rights

Iran Will Allow Women in Sports Stadiums, Reversing a Much-Criticized Rule –

Woowee!! Big news: fundamentalist religiosity is collapsing. In Iran at least.

But here’s Gail Collins’ brilliant Saturday column, And Now, Political Virgins –

In which we learn:

On Tuesday in Texas, the House of Representatives voted to take $3 million earmarked for prevention of H.I.V. and other sexually transmitted diseases, and spend it instead on abstinence-only sex education. It was a fascinating moment — particularly when the sponsor of the motion, a Republican named Stuart Spitzer, told the House that he had been a virgin until he got married at age 29.

“What’s good for me is good for a lot of people,” he said.

We also learn that Spitzer is a doctor. And then we read:

Does Texas traditionally decide state policy based on politicians’ sexual history? If so, that’s terrifying.

Um, yes, especially because…

…Texas gets more federal money for abstinence-only sex education than any other state, and that Texas has a teen birthrate that is almost twice as high as California’s, which has completely barred schools from limiting their courses on sex to the advisability of not having any.

All that was news to Dr. Spitzer, who did admit that abstinence-only education “may not be working well.” This had no effect whatsoever on his insistence that Texas needed to do more of it. His proposal passed and went to the State Senate.

And [my emphasis of one slamming sentence]

So that was lawmaking on sex in Texas. Meanwhile, over in Arizona, the State Legislature was passing a bill that requires doctors who perform drug-induced abortions to tell their patients that the procedure may be reversible, even though most scientists say it isn’t.

This business of legislating fiction is rather widespread. The Guttmacher Institute, which keeps track of these things, has counted 12 states where women seeking abortions have to be informed that a 20-week-old fetus can feel pain, research to the contrary notwithstanding. Four states require that women be given inaccurate portrayals of the effects of an abortion on future fertility. In five states, a woman who wants an abortion has to be informed that abortions are linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.

And here’s what I think–especially given the global war on women–is Collins’s key:

I’m working up to a point here. The nation is becoming more rational about gay sex and more irrational about heterosexual sex. Who would have thought?

It is as if there’s only room for one group to get civil and human rights at a time. And Collins continues, noting what just happened in Indiana, and then:

But heterosexual women are being pushed further and further back. The good old Guttmacher Institute recently reported that during the first three months of the year, nearly 800 proposals relating to sexual and reproductive health and rights were introduced in state legislatures.

Her conclusion is pin-prick accurate, darkly funny and awfully disturbing:

Abortion is no longer the dark secret it used to be, but women who’ve had an abortion generally don’t think of it as part of their identity, any more than they identify themselves as consumers of birth control pills or wearers of IUDs. That kind of stuff is private.

Which is the exact reason politicians need to keep their hands off. But they don’t, and the business community certainly didn’t rise up when Indiana became one of the first states to enact a ban on abortions after 20 weeks. Nobody called for a boycott when the State Legislature required that women seeking to end their pregnancies be informed that life begins at conception. [My emphasis, and you’ll see why below, when I give you the link to today’s Timothy Egan’s NYT column.]

If male legislators could get pregnant, we’d have a different story. Except, of course, for the ones in Texas who are saving themselves for marriage.

All this does flow nicely into Timothy Egan’s column in today’s NYT, The Conscience of a Corporation – In which he damns with faint praise the sudden, um, moral? interest corporations are showing in gay rights, and damns without any praise at all the five Supremes who gave corporations this loud voice to speak up about, well, anything they like to, because they are so powerful and so very very rich and so free, via Citizens United, to speak out.

Egan does not, as Collins does, discuss the moral silence of corporations in the face of state abortion legislation, but if you mentally link these two powerful, sarcastic columns to each other, you get the double dip.

Here are a couple of Egan’s standout paragraphs:

But, lo, look what happened on the way to forcing religion into the marketplace: The corporations — Apple, Nike, Yelp, Gap, PayPal, Big Pharma companies like Eli Lilly and the nine largest companies with headquarters in Indiana — have rebelled. They are saying: No, don’t give us the power to discriminate. We’d rather remain soulless purveyors of product to the widest possible customer base. Which is, I suppose, how capitalism is supposed to work. Bless the free market.

Indiana’s law is “not just pure idiocy from a business perspective,” said Marriott’s president, Arne Sorenson, but “the notion that you can tell businesses somehow that they are free to discriminate against people based on who they are is madness.”

All of this, the free market in tandem with the First Amendment, has worked pretty well in a clamorous democracy such as ours. It’s only when activist judges — thy names are Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy and John Roberts — have tried to broaden the intent of the founders that we’ve gotten into trouble.

In 2010, those five judges created the notion of corporate personhood — giving companies the unfettered right to dominate elections. After all, Exxon is just a citizen like you and me. And in 2014, those five judges gave corporations a soul, a further expansion of business entity as a citizen. Well, they tried to. As the saying goes, a corporation will never truly be a citizen until you can execute one in Texas.


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