Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Politics is as personal as ever, day 14: The shifting coordinates of women's health.

          I've never been the victim of rape, but I have dear friends who are not so lucky.  And these friends have taught me a thing or two during this election cycle.  While the rest of us gawk as would-be Senators opine about the hypotheticals of a woman’s body’s response to rape or the point at which God is present in the pregnancy resulting from a rape, while we forward on rape-related sound bites and articles and memes, these friends have been cringing in real-time pain, every time they see or hear the word: rape.  They’ve been tuning out the news, turning off their Facebook feeds, knowing there’s just no way to predict when that word will jump back out at them during this despicable open-mic-on-women’s-bodies election season.
          Rape, like poverty and unemployment and pre-existing conditions, is a real thing that happens to real people.  You don't just get to talk about it to rile us up.  To make some people angry and rally others to your side.  You may not use it for shock value or distraction.  And you are certainly not allowed to bounce it all about the vast landscape of American media, especially if you are endowed with the power to legislate.  Because anyone who would toss this word about so cavalierly, may feel just qualified enough, just entitled enough, to limit the right of rape victims to do whatever it is they must to survive.
          And if Mitt Romney, the apparent leader of the Republican Party, is so interested in being President that he’s not willing to stand up to these ignorance-wielding legislators, then we can’t afford to have him anywhere near The Oval Office.
          Because look what has happened, even as almost everyone gawks at the audacity of Ted Akin and Robert Murdoch, we are letting them succeed in pulling the vertex of the abortion rights conversation to their coordinates.  Because now, instead of standing strong in the 39-year-old right of any woman to control the medical destiny of her own uterus, we are filling up the air waves with incensed arguments about why it’s important to preserve this right for women who have been the victim of rape and incest.  See that?  See how they did that?  How we're all so caught up laughing at them for making such politically unpopular and bogus statements just days before the election that we don't even realize what they've done: taken us off our work of protecting the right of all women to control their medical decisions.  Preserving the right for all women to go to the doctor's office without bringing along the House of Representatives.
          This series of mine is supposed to be about ways the Obama administration has impacted, or will impact, my family.  And of course the truth is that every woman is at risk of being raped.  My partner, my daughter, and I are no exception.  But that’s not really what I’m concerned with here.  I’m concerned for my friends, and the millions of other Americans who already carry that horrible burden.  They deserve a government with the deepest, most sincere respect for their right to privacy.  A legislative body that would never dream of forcing them to prove they’ve been assaulted in order to end a pregnancy.  A majority party that will set the political agenda so far away from the coordinates of pregnancy-resulting-from-rape, that women need not worry the most traumatic moment of their lives will be batted about for public comment and perusal.
          We have the power to offer these women four years of peace.  Let’s do it.

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