Women’s Health At The DNC: Abortion Is Not Murder


Photo by Sarah Cooke

This morning outside the Charlotte Convention Center, a man was loudly shouting - in almost hysterical language - that abortion is murder. He held graphic posters that supposedly depicted aborted fetuses, but who knows where those (probably Photo Shopped) photos came from.


By contrast, many of the speakers at the convention tonight made highly logical arguments in favor of supporting women's health and reproductive rights. Nancy Pelosi, for example, argued that, "Democrats trust the judgment of women" and that they, "reject the Republican assault" on women's health.


Elizabeth Ann "Libby" Bruce, a resident of Columbus, Ohio, told the story of the many doctors who ignored her endometriosis, dismissing it outright. It was a Planned Parenthood practitioner, she said, who suggested a possible diagnosis and referred her to a surgeon who was able to treat her. Endometriosis can lead to infertility so, Bruce said, her daughter may never have been born if not for Planned Parenthood.


Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood photo courtesy of David Shankbone

Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood, pointed out that Republicans have voted against funding for cancer screenings for women, insurance coverage for birth control, and have even attempted to redefine rape. Richards wondered why we are still fighting this battle today, when women have made so many strides in the social, political, and professional arenas. Mitt Romney, Richards suggested, would like to dismantle Planned Parenthood and potentially reverse Roe v. Wade.


But the argument was perhaps most powerfully made by Sandra Fluke, whose mere presence highlighted the backward thinking of the conservatives who would, as she pointed out, silence her rather than invite her to speak.   In her words, the future for women with Mitt Romney as President would be an,"offensive, obsolete relic of our past."


The man outside the convention center was certainly more unhinged than the Republican politicians in question. But his arguments are not much more extreme. Republicans want our employers to have the right to determine what kind of birth control we can afford to use. They've called pregnancies that result from rape "gifts," and they've suggested that not all rapes are "legitimate."


Photo of the women of the House courtesy of Steve Bott

The arguments being made by many Republicans today turn the tables back on women dramatically. They are moralistic and often based on old-school, fundamentalist Christianity. They spring from the desire to control a woman's sexuality and, thereby, her place in society. There still exists that women who have sex outside of marriage and enjoy it are "whores," and this is what informs the right-wing attack on a woman's right to choose what is best for her body and her life.


The man outside the convention center spewed outdated, misogynistic rhetoric. He clearly had no respect for a woman's intelligence when it comes to her own body. And there was simply no room in his mind for any argument that differs from his own. But the policies being pursued by Republicans when it comes to women's health are no less dangerous. In fact, they're more dangerous because, while the man I saw this morning was just one misguided individual without any real ability to change the behavior of others, our elected officials are in a position to tangibly impact our lives. This is an incredibly important issue and we must make sure that our leaders respect our health, our freedom, and our intelligence.