“Are you there God? It’s me, an old white guy. Now let’s talk about how we can keep our hands in the proverbial vaginas of America, shall we? We’ll show you, Shelly Peters! You turned me down for prom? Well, how does a political war on your basic rights sound?”
Or, at least, so goes the introduction to Newt Gingrichʼs latest autobiographical masterpiece, “Dr. Strangelove or: How the Human Pillsbury Doughboy Got with So Many Hot Staffers.” Or wait, was that Rick Perry? Rush Limbaugh? It’s getting so hard to tell these days. After all, as we get closer to the impending doom — erm, the 2012 presidential election — it becomes clearer: Our current Republican leaders do not care about your vagina. Or your uterus. Or “that ﬂappy thing that I will touch on any woman who’s not my wife.” Because when it comes down to it, protecting the rights of half the population? Upholding the egalitarian beliefs intrinsic to American society? Not calling a law student a slut on national radio? Sure sounds like a bunch of women’s troubles to me.
Take, for instance, Texas. Now there’s a state that likes its eggs fertilized. And if proposed budget cuts are any indicator, Texans like eggs a la less likely to be tested for ovarian cancer, too. A year after massive cuts to the state’s family-planning funds, the state is now calling for elimination of its Women’s Health Program, a plan for reproductive-healthcare services that helps nearly 130,000 women who fail to qualify for Texas’s strict Medicaid requirements. The reason? Under federal law, Texas can’t prevent care providers like Planned Parenthood (or any other qualiﬁed medical care provider) from WHP plans.
The logical response: refuse the millions of federal dollars offered to the state to fund WHP, discontinue the program and leave the low-income women of Texas — which is the state with the highest level of uninsured women — to fend for themselves when it comes to annual exams, STI testing and access to birth control.
And since the well-being of hundreds of thousands of women isn’t enough of an attention-grabber these days, here’s a dose of reproductive irony for you: those abortion clinics that the state legislature was so hell-bent on exterminating? Well, 14 Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas that perform abortions somehow had the foresight to cut themselves from any state-affiliation and currently run as separate entities. Since these clinics don’t receive any state funding, the proposed cuts really won’t stop them from terminating any unwanted pregnancies, throwing birthday parties for the antichrist, or whatever else abortion clinics do. As for the other 51 Planned Parenthood clinics that provide reproductive healthcare to women in the state? Well, yeah, they’re screwed. But you know what they say — everything’s bigoted in Texas.
I don’t mean to pick on the Lone Star State. To be fair, there are plenty of other politicians that care just as much about women as Bush cared about black people and Lou Bega cared about Mambo No. 6. Like Newt Gingrich, for example. To his credit, Iʼve never seen a beached whale so interested in the female reproductive system. For the past several decades, Gingrichʼs aerial attacks on areolas and all things women read like the back of Now That’s What I Call Misogyny — “99 Problems But a Ditch Ainʼt One,” “Pro-Life on Mars?” and that timeless classic, “Women’s Rights are Dumb and Stuff, Pt. II.” Remember the so-called Personhood Amendment, the Mississippi legislation that declared that life begins at fertilization? Despite the defeat of ballot initiative, Gingrich still wants to see a nationwide expansion of the failed bill, ultimately making all abortions illegal, even in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of a woman. And good news: Gingrich isn’t alone. Both Gingrich and Rick Santorum have vowed to only appoint pro-life justices to the Supreme Court bench, a move that ultimately places the life of a fetus over the life of a woman.
And as I sit here, blasting Alanis Morissette and pounding away at my keyboard, I just have to wonder — when was the last time I shaved my armpits? But perhaps more importantly, will the conservatives ever care about the unshaven, alternative Canadian rock, angry women types? But since I’m just about out of room, and I’m tired, and I’m just not interested in ﬁlling the opinion page with any more platitudinous rants, I’ll end with one last bit of advice. When it comes to women’s rights, the Republicans need to step up or, better yet — stick a tampon in it.