If we’re seeing any renaissance in American politics at the moment, it comes from a backlash against an ever-advancing policy against the ability for women to think and make choices for themselves. This policy of female subjugation, which mostly but not entirely has focused on health care issues, has realized real gains on an almost unbroken line for 40 years. But for whatever reason – conservative overreach, a new generation of feminist activists – we’re seeing a real and sustained pushback. While it has not translated into policy advances yet, it has set the stage for them.
Consider the increasing success with stopping the most noxious of the conservative subjugation policies. The mandatory ultrasound bill in Virginia was shifted from a trans-vaginal one to a trans-abdominal one. That hardly represents much of a defense, but considering the normal trajectory of these things, it was a place to start. The Blunt amendment, which would have given employers the ability to decide whether women could receive treatment they found objectionable, also went down to defeat, and Republicans have no intention of bringing it up again. Similarly, in Arizona, a bid to allow employers to drop coverage for contraception and require employees to justify their purchases of contraception products has been dropped and will be rewritten.
Lesko said critics have wrongly read House Bill 2625 as requiring the employee to disclose her medical condition to her employer in order to continue coverage. However, that disclosure is between the worker and the employer’s insurance company, she said [...]
On Monday, she pulled the bill from the Senate Rules Committee agenda so she and other lawmakers could work on amendments before it comes before the full Senate for a vote. It has already passed the House.
But the more interesting factor is the drag these fights on contraception and abortion have had on the overall public opinion of Republicans, particularly at the state level. Consider that Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell had an astronomical approval rating and was considered a possible Vice Presidential candidate before the flap over the ultrasound bill there. Now, new polling numbers show:
Voters approve 53 – 32 percent of the job Gov. McDonnell is doing, down from a 58 – 24 percent score February 9 and McDonnell’s lowest rating since the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University began Virginia surveys June 29, 2011.
The State Legislature’s negative 38 – 47 percent score is a 19-point shift from a 47 – 37 percent positive approval rating February 9 and the first time the legislature has received a negative grade [...]
Virginia voters disagree 52 – 41 percent with a new law that requires women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound examination at least 24 hours before the procedure.
Voters say 72 – 21 percent that government should not make laws which try to convince women seeking an abortion to change their minds.
Part of this is just how voters tend to dislike politicians once they try to legislate. But in addition, you have women’s issues really driving up the negatives of the Governor and the Republican state legislature. Conversely, you’re seeing reproductive freedom groups, including campaign-based ones like EMILYs List, drawing newfound attention and funding by highlighting these issues.
Finally, the one entity that made a big gamble on subjugating women, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, is reeling in the aftermath of its efforts to defund Planned Parenthood:
Two top executives at Susan G. Komen for the Cure have announced their resignation, amid reports that the breast cancer charity is struggling to raise money and repair its reputation after its decision to defund Planned Parenthood and subsequent reversal.
Katrina McGhee, Komen’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer, privately announced several weeks ago that she will be stepping down on May 4, and Dara Richardson-Heron, CEO of Komen’s New York City affiliate, announced her resignation on Tuesday. Both cited “personal” reasons and declined to elaborate.
If I had to guess, I’d say there won’t be a Susan G. Komen Foundation come next year.
I’m willing to call this a trend. It has not translated fully into political power just yet – witness Idaho joining other states on mandatory ultrasound legislation. But I think awareness has been raised to the war on women, which has really super-charged over the past two years. And the conditions are ripe for a major backlash.
UPDATE: The campaign of protesting GOP Governors on Facebook is another nascent example of this, as is the campaign of women knitting lady parts for their members of Congress.