Debate Forum Left, 9/6/11

A sorry attempt at dominance

By Marianne Stanley

Marianne Stanley

This should be a no-brainer. That there is an uproar about something so commonsensical is testimony to the successful skewing (or should I say, screwing?) of general public opinion by the forces-that-be.

The question:  Should family planning services be available to women at no charge?
The answer:  Not just, “Yes,” but “Hell, YES!”

1) Women are adults.
2) Adults, under every ethical and moral theory, must be accorded respect and treated as an ‘end’ rather than as a means to an end for someone else’s motives. Each has inherent dignity that must not be violated.
3) Reproduction is the most personal and private of human activities. No one else is allowed to meddle or to interfere, certainly not government agencies through laws, rules or regulations.
4) Religion is supposed to be a guiding light, not a battering ram to be used against those who disagree with anyone whose views are different from their own.
5) No scientist and no person knows when the soul occupies the body and thus cannot and should not attempt to make laws calling a group of cells or a fetus before it is sentient (can feel pain) a “person.”
6) If the Christian God, in His omnipotence, didn’t think birth control or abortion merited even a mention in his Son’s 33 years on Earth, then it is likely He is not too pleased watching so-called followers imposing their will on a situation that is really just between Him and the woman.
7) No man can get pregnant and thus should remain respectfully silent on these matters just as women do not stand between a man and his decisions on his own fertility or reproductive equipment.

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), tells the story of a Republican colleague who offered an amendment during the health care debates that would have removed the requirement that insurance companies provide maternity care, saying that since he was a man, he had no need for it and insurance companies shouldn’t be required to provide it. She reminded him that, while he may not have needed maternity care, his mom probably did.

The argument that these preventive health services for women shouldn’t be mandated because there are men who have to pay for what they will never use, is incomprehensible! Why then, are we women paying for prostate exams and Viagra for the guys? Why do we pay property taxes to support schools when we may have no children? Why do we pay high car insurance premiums when we have never had an accident? Why? Because we are a society, connected to each other and to each other’s well-being. Because it is the right thing to do.

This triumph of patriarchal rules over true spirituality and at the expense of women who bear the brunt of such pronouncements is nothing short of sadistic. Women should be coming together to support their sisters who are caught under the thumb of discrimination in everything from wages to government policies. One by one, a woman’s right to control her own life and to make the weighty decisions living calls for, are being stripped unconstitutionally away from her. Nothing has more far-reaching consequences than an unwanted pregnancy, both on the mother and on society.

The clever work of the far right to try to make this issue about the “sanctity of life” is so far afield from the truth that many misguided and uninformed people actually believe it.

Where is this argument for the sanctity of life once the unwanted child is born? When one in four children go to bed hungry each night? When our teens or young adults are sent off to war? Why are they blind to the misery born of poverty, substandard living conditions, inferior education and the overall neediness and hopelessness of one quarter of our nation’s children?

The irony is that Christianity, the paramount religion in this country, is historically a religion of tolerance and love, not judgment and contempt so often in evidence today. With Jesus Christ as its founder, the course was set to “love one another” and to “judge not.”  Yet, those who most loudly and clearly proclaim their Christianity are the first to call for criminalizing abortion and impeding the use of birth control. If this isn’t irony — and insanity — I don’t know what is.

Where are our hearts? Our brains? This whole argument about it costing too much to provide birth control or sterilization is bogus, since studies show that it costs far, far more in government revenue to pay for an unwanted child or one born into poverty. No, this is quite simply about disempowering women.

The most troubling aspect of this is the public’s willingness to parrot the buzzwords and the irrational “reasons” rather than to seek to comprehend the complexities of this issue. Reproduction needs to fall clearly and completely outside the parameters of government interference. Health care is a basic human need and thus a basic human right. That we are even arguing this point today just demonstrates how effective money can be in shaping the issues and the arguments we are having across a wide spectrum of issues today.

Who can clear away the tangled vines of convoluted thinking that have been put out there by those seeking to return women to “chattel” or “property” status while hiding behind the rigidity of so-called religious precepts that don’t come from Christ at all? As we each lose our ability to make critical life decisions for ourselves, we lose our democratic underpinnings. It is time to connect the dots before it is too late.

Marianne Stanley is an attorney, college professor and former journalist who believes many of our nation’s ills could be cured if our children were taught critical thinking skills beginning at the elementary level and continuing throughout middle and high school. She can be reached at

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