[Trigger warning: Discussion of misuse of the word rape and the transvaginal ultrasounds bill].
So I have a request to all Republican politicians currently talking about and actively restricting women’s reproductive rights and health. It’s a pretty simple request, I think. Here goes: if you don’t fucking know all the facts about an issue do not spout off your ill-informed opinion about it, and absolutely do not draft or introduce or pass legislation about it.
If you are going to do these things anyway, please know the consequences of your actions and don’t feign ignorance when asked the tough questions because people find your legislation to be unacceptable.
Specifically, I am talking about Delegate Bob Marshall, the author of H.B. 1, Virginia’s Personhood bill. You see, Mr. Marshall seems to have no idea what his piece of legislation would actually do, or he’s faking unawareness of the consequences to avoid opprobrium from the public. Either way, it’s not okay, and especially not from an elected official supposedly representing the
white, straight, cismen people of Virginia.
Previously, personhood measures, which are designed to give full legal personhood to a fertilized egg, have been ballot initiatives in states like Colorado and Mississippi. Because of just how extreme they are they have been rejected by voters in these states, which is why in Virginia, personhood advocates went through the very conservative legislature instead. (Lovely, how they knew the people wouldn’t want it so they circumvented that whole thing…) By design, personhood laws would ban abortion and hormonal birth control. Bob Marshall has dismissed the concerns of pro-choice activists and people who don’t hate women insisting that his law will not ban abortion or birth control.
But Mr. Marshall is very, very wrong. The way hormonal contraceptives work, is that if a mistake happens and an egg does happen to be fertilized by a sperm, the birth control will prevent the fertilized egg from implanting. These types of hormonal birth control include the most popular form of contraceptives, the pill, as well as Implanon, IUDS, Nuvaring, and more. And it’s important to note that while the primary function of birth control is exactly that, to control birth, women also take it for a myriad of other health reasons– to control cramps and heavy periods, to prevent ovarian cysts, and so on. The negative consequences of banning birth control are far-reaching, and also unconstitutional, given the decision in Griswold v. Connecticut. When you grant full personhood rights to a fertilized egg and say that (I’m quoting from the text of the legislation here) “Unborn children have protectable interests in life, health, and well-being“ you are criminalizing abortion and birth control. If abortion gets in the way of the “protectable interests in life” of a embryo or fetus that you have declared to be a full legal person (despite the fact that it’s just a cluster of cells) then it will be made illegal by this law. And the Personhood movement knows this, because this is the point of the Personhood movement. In 2011, their spokesman confirmed that the Mississippi Personhood amendment would ban birth control. Sure, Marshall doesn’t want to say that because he knows how profoundly stupid it would be to support a birth control ban. But that doesn’t make these concerns untrue or scare tactics.
Honestly, I can’t really believe I have to explain this. I can’t believe that the man who introduced this anti-woman anti-choice legislation is pretending that it won’t have these effects. Furthermore, this is such a blatant overreach by the allegedly small government Republican legislature that interferes with the core principles of Roe v. Wade, that a woman has the right to privacy and a private relationship between herself and her doctor.
Another bone I have to pick with Bob Marshall is his liberal use of the word rape. The only acceptable time to use the word rape is when you are talking about rape. Don’t use it as a comparison to anything else, don’t make jokes, just don’t. But according to Bob Marshall, a man who supported the transvaginal ultrasounds law which would have mandated actual rape by the state, Obama’s healthcare law is “forcible economic rape.” First of all, fuck you, Bob Marshall. Second of all, no, the Affordable Care Act is not rape. Here’s the difference between these two laws: a nonconsensual, mandatory, and unnecessary 8-to-10-in probe forced in one’s vagina is rape. A law requiring Americans to have health care (a basic human right) is not.
So Bob Marshall clearly has a problem with reading comprehension and that’s sad for him, but health care is not rape and his bill will ban birth control and abortion. This tactic is not going to work, and all I ask is that Bob Marshall sit this conversation out, since he clearly doesn’t know shit about reproductive health. And if he won’t do that, then he needs to own up to the ramifications of his bill and stop playing dumb about it. The Republican party has overwhelmingly taken an anti-birth control stance, and Marshall clearly aligns with these beliefs.
What Republicans need to consider is this: do they really really want to be the anti-birth control party? And especially in a major election cycle? When 99% of women have used birth control (which includes 98% of Catholic women)? This isn’t about what Rep. Darrell Issa thinks it’s about. This isn’t about “religious freedom.” There is a clear disconnect between what Catholic women believe and practice in regards to birth control and what the all-male upper echelons of the Church believe about birth control.
As much as I hate to give advice to Republicans, here goes. Women vote in higher numbers than men. A vast majority of women have used birth control. And those women do not want their birth control banned. If you want to win elections, running on this extreme anti-contraception platform is not the way to go.