My name is Toni Sutton, I am a third-generation Idahoan, and until last year, had never attended a protest or rally of any kind. This is the third rally I've spoken at this year. I always wondered if there was anything that I felt passionately enough about to even attend a protest. Thanks to the actions of the extremists of the Republican party, I never found the level of outrage I would need to attend a rally—we've gone FAR beyond that.
It wasn't until 1965 that the Comstock bans against contraception for married women were struck down by the Supreme Court, and it wasn't until 1972 that the courts extended contraception rights to nonmarried women. Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, finally giving women the right to control their own bodies. As I was born in 1970, that means that I had more legal control over my own body at the age of 3 than I have now. It also means that, except for the few women my age entering menopause early, we haven't even had ONE generation of women who didn't have to fight for the right to make our own reproductive choices. Not even ONE. In the past 2 months, women have become sluts for taking birth control pills daily—as they're actually supposed to be taken—and Republican legislators in Idaho as well as nation-wide have declared that my taking birth control pills for a medical condition, which is only partially covered by the health insurance I pay $350 a month to even have—might somehow violate the religious or moral beliefs of a man whom I have never even MET who happens to own the company that employs my husband, so it should be his right to dictate whether or not my prescription is covered, not mine. Well then I am here today to represent my slut Mother, slut Mother-in-Law, slut sisters-in-laws, slut aunts, and all my slut friends to tell the GOP, if birth control pills violate your religious or moral beliefs, DON'T TAKE THEM. I am fully willing to respect anyone's religious beliefs, but only when they pertain to the choices that person makes. Ancestors on both sides of my family fled TO America to escape having religious beliefs they did not share forced upon them. If they were willing to give up everything they owned and everyone they ever knew to come here to build a new life based on their OWN convictions and beliefs, you had better believe that their great-great grand-daughter will NOT accept anything less. My PERSONAL religious and moral beliefs are that it is wrong for an elected official, whose health insurance is provided by taxpayer dollars, to stand up and call taxpayer-funded healthcare “socialism” when it helps others while keeping it for himself. As a taxpayer and the employer of EVERY elected official in Idaho, does my belief matter? It violates my moral and religious beliefs to have a political party that ran an admitted adulterer and general toad like Newt Gingrich tell me what is moral and “right.” Does my belief matter? With men like Gingrich around, why aren't we fighting the insurance coverage of VIAGRA instead of birth control? I certainly know which one I find offensive.
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. NO ONE is truly Pro-abortion: 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” when you restrict access to the “Morning After” pill, which keeps an egg from ever being fertilized and is in no way an abortion and is, in fact, one of the best methods for reducing the need FOR abortions. You are not "Pro-Life" if you attack institutions that provide low-cost 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, mental health 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."
Like many of you here today, I have watched with horror and disbelief as hundreds and hundreds of bills targeted at women sweep the nation. Across our so-called “land of the free,” since March of 2011, Republicans have introduced 916 bills targeting women—restriction of birth control, forced ultrasounds, restrictions or elimination of sex education, and declaring single parenthood—the logical conclusion of blocking abortion, sex ed and birth control access—an automatic factor of child abuse. All of this while vilifying single mothers and working families that must rely on public assistance to even scrape by as “welfare queens.” Women are damned if we do, and damed if we don't. Women STILL earn less than men, without Obamacare our health insurance is more expensive than it is for men, we're feminazis if we choose not to HAVE children, sluts if we take birth control pills, child abusers if we end up as single parents, lazy if we have children without being able to afford them, and bad mothers if we hold down jobs AND have children in order to be able to afford them. Well, Republicans, how is this NOT a “War on Women?” Actions speak louder than words, and this is a full-out onslaught.
Idaho was one of the first states to grant women the vote—more than a hundred years after it was given to men. Idaho was one of the states that ratified the Equal Rights Amendment in 1972. We weren't always like this—and in fact, I believe that few Idahoans of either party agree with the current extremism of the Republican Party. We have been promised that the group behind the mandatory ultrasound bill will be back next year, and I'm sure they will. If the Idaho Legislature passes this bill, it will truly show that nothing about the current 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.