As I'm sure everyone has noticed, many of my posts lately have been regarding the actions of Republican extremists in America. 15 years ago I was considered a "moderate" and actually have helped with campaigns for people of both parties. But beginning with the era of George junior--or maybe even with Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America" that drove moderation from the Republican Party--I have apparently become a liberal/Democrat/socialist/communist--depending on whom you ask. And like every moderate/liberal/Democrat/old school Republican/anyone-who-isn't-in-the-Tea-Party that I know, I am angry. America was founded on the best ideals probably ever written into government--liberty, equality, freedom of speech and assembly--and even for someone like me who would rather be knitting, gardening, playing music, or hosting Soup Night, it is not something to be taken lying down.
Yesterday I was asked to speak at a rally at the Idaho statehouse in protest of a mandatory ultrasound bill. Normally, I would have said no--or, more likely, "Hell, no." It's easier not to get involved, and as a woman in her 40s, I could have said, "Well, it isn't really going to affect me." But, last week the Idaho legislature introduced a bill that would have allowed any Idaho employer to drop any item from the PRIVATE insurance for his employees if it offended his religious or moral beliefs. I will respect ANYONE'S religious beliefs right until the point they stop being about what they themselves do and start imposing on others. I have taken birth control pills most of my life to make life bearable AND in order to never have children. They were medically necessary, and taking them does not make me a "slut"--or if it does, then most of our mothers were "sluts" as well. If that is the case, my mother, mother-in-law, and I will be getting matching tee-shirts soon. What a woman chooses to do with her own body is her decision alone.
I am printing my speech from yesterday. I thankfully was never in the position to have to have an abortion, but have known several women who have. Most were medically necessary, a few were because no birth control is 100% fool-proof, and 2 I would probably chalk up to irresponsibility. Those are, of course, the ones that make the issue extremely difficult for anyone, but I still believe that it was better for those two pregnancies to be terminated than to have 2 children raised by an irresponsible parent. Child abuse rates in Idaho are high and are rules are lenient and resources almost non-existent. One cannot debate human issues without factoring in the long-term effects and the human element. So, I not only joined the protest yesterday--I became one of the voices:
My name is Toni Sutton. I am a native Idahoan, a taxpayer, a voter, and a woman--or, as we seem to be now known in Idaho, one of the vaginally-challenged.
My mother's generation thought they had actually won the battle to give women control over their own bodies and more specifically reproductive rights before I was even born. If conservatives think they had a fight on their hands in the 60s, they haven't seen anything yet. We now have generations of women who will fight for control of their own bodies, and we are surrounded by strong men who will fight right along side us.
No one is truly pro-abortion. To be in a position to make that decision cannot be an easy one, but it is a woman's legal right to make that decision on her own. For the Idaho Legislature to require an unnecessary ultrasound shows not only the hypocrisy of the Idaho Republican Party and it's "small government" rhetoric, it belittles the intelligence of women. Does the Idaho Legislature actually believe that without it's intervention, a woman is not smart enough to make her own decisions? Do they really think that if men do not intervene to show a woman a fetus that she's not going to have all the information? As if without a big strong man around to set her straight, she's going to think it's a puppy or something. The arrogance of this bill is only exceeded by it's cruelty and blatant hypocrisy.
The so-called "Pro-Life" movement has been chipping away at Roe Vs. Wade for years, and if it were really about the sanctity of life, I think many of us might understand their concerns. Life is a very precious thing. But you are not "Pro-Life" if you refuse to teach sex-education in order to prevent unwanted pregnancies. You are not "Pro-Life" if you also strip away access to birth control. You are not "Pro-Life" if you attack institutions that provide prenatal care. You are not "Pro-Life" if you cut the programs that benefit that child once it is born. You are not "Pro-Life" if you ignore all the children that are affected by cuts to Health and Welfare which provides immunizations, child abuse and foster care services, special needs programs, and adoption services. You are not "Pro-Life" when you cut 750 teachers who would have provided an education for that child. You are not "pro-life" when you refuse to participate in national health care programs without providing any state options. You are not "Pro-life" when you attack the rights of one-half the population to make our own decisions regarding our bodies. You may be "Pro-fetus," but you are NOT "Pro-Life."
If the Idaho Legislature passes this bill, it will truly show that nothing about the Republican party is about small government or individual rights. You can't be for small government AND mandate unnecessary medical procedures. You can't say you are the party of individual rights and start dictating whether or not a woman can have access to birth control. Women are much more than just a uterus. We work. We pay taxes. We volunteer. We serve in the military. And look out Republican Party, because we also vote.