Saturday, February 04, 2006




"Women whom Nietzche never had, he consigned to a distinctly inferior status, as did the Nazis, who decreed that their place was in the kitchen and their chief roll in life to beget children for German warriors. Nietzche pit the idea this way: "Man shall be trained for war and women for the procreation of the warrior. All else is folly." He went further in Thus Spake Zarathustra. He exclaims: "Thou goest to woman? Do not forget thy whip!"--which prompted Bertrand Russell to quip, "Nine women out of ten would have got the whip away from him and he knew it, so he kept away from women!"

From The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany
Page 100By William L. Shirer
1959, 1960 Simon and Schuster

Welcome to the supposedly progressive state of Wisconsin, where the Radical Christian Right and borderline fascists are again trying to keep women barefoot and pregnant.

It's inconceivable--pun intended. Forty years after the Supreme Court legalized bith control in Griswold v Connecticut a woman's right to safe, legal contraception has again come under attack. And, as before, the attack is coming from reactionary religious fanatics who believe that their right to practice their religion includes a right to control the beliefs, practices, and physical bodies of others.

I don't know what things are like in your state, but here, in Wisconsin, a woman's right to safe, legal contraception is being threatened by two Republican-led (natch!) measures.One measure introduced by State Senator Daniel LeMahieu, would prohibit the University of Wisconsin Health Clinics from prescribing and dispensing the morning after pill. This measure (if passed, or not vetoed by our governor) would prohibit University of Wisconsin Health Clinics from prescribing and dispensing the morning after pill.

The controversy began on April 19 of this year, when the UW Madison Health Clinic ran a controversial ad which encouraged young women to arm themselves with a prescription for birth control, i.e. the morning after pill prior to spring break. This of course, led to the all too predictable accusation that the university system was promoting promiscuity. And, as you might have guessed, most of the criticism has been leveled against young women, never young men, demonstrating how sexist and borderline fascist this argument has become.The far right routinely harps about personal responsibility. You might even say that the right wingers have obsessed over it but don't always practice it themselves. Here we had a situation in which the UW was encouraging personal responsibility by reminding young women to arm themselves with contraception during spring break and the far right is flipping out because women might actually do something that would give them control over their own bodies.

Of course you have to remember that the far right's idea of personal responsibility is the imposition of reactionary, often misogynistic "values" from the top down. These are young women, legal adults, not elementary school children who need a state Senator to tell them what they can with their bodies and/or personal lives.

Religious arguments about promiscuity not withstanding, we must assume that some of these young women are either already having sex or contemplating the idea. The LeMahieu solution couldn't be more chauvinistic. It tells young women that they are too stupid, too immoral, or too immature to make decisions for themselves and that the state has to step in to make decisions for them.That seems rather hypocritical when you consider the fact that this Draconian measure comes from the Republican Party, the same party which supposedly believes in smaller government and getting that smaller government of our backs. In fact it seems as if Mister LeMahieu wants to get the government off our backs and in our bedrooms. Or to put it another way: LeMahieu's values represent a throw back to the double standard of the Victorian era. Women are supposed to be pure and virginal on their wedding nights while boys are allowed to sow their wild oats. And that makes me wonder. With whom, pray tell, are the boys supposed to have sex with if the young women are supposed to be virgins on their wedding nights? We're back to the bad old days of the Madonna-Whore Scenario. Good girls,"Madonnas," don't. Bad girls, "whores," do. Boys aren't judged no matter what they do.

In other words, women not only have to be more responsible because conservative politicians, in their woman-hating "wisdom" have decided that men can do no wrong and women need to be controlled. Why if you didn't know better you'd be tempted to think that they were trying to impose a literal interpretation of the Bible because they believe all women should be punished because Eve allegedly committed the original, original sin. (It might be suggested, however, that Eve was actually the superior being in the Book of Genesis. Eve was tempted by Lucifer, supernatural being, a fallen angel with supernatural powers. Adam, on the other hand, was tempted by a mere human being. In other words, Adam was a lot more stupid and than Eve ever could have been, allowing himself to be tempted and corrupted by a "mere" woman. Kind of makes you wonder why men think they're so incredibly superior when they seem to be the more gullible of the two sexes.)

But I seem to have digressed.

For some reason right wing Republicans, both the woman hating males, and the self-hating females, seem to have a problem with strong, independent women. And it certainly shows in their attitude (problem) towards contraception. Senator LeMahieu, I'll cut a deal with you. The day you grow a birth canal, uterus, ovaries, and the necessary plumbing for carrying and delivering a nine pound bundle of joy is the day I'll listen to you. Until that day comes though, you'll just have to forgive my stifled laughter.

Unfortunately the assault on a woman's right to safe and legal contraception doesn't end with Senator LeMahieu. At the same time that the good Senator and his Bible-thumping misanthropes are trying to ban birth control through the University of Wisconsin, their "pro life" allies are attempting to undermine patients' rights through a Pharmacists Freedom of Conscience Act. In a measure which could best be described as the "No Patient Gets Medication Act," pharmacists would have the right to withhold medications from patients. In other words, if the pharmacist's religious or moral values were offended he would not have to dispense the medication that the patient's doctor had prescribed. The problems with this are obvious. In the first place, it not only interferes with the relationship between doctor and patient, it also allows the pharmacist, who is not a doctor, to trump the doctor's professional judgment. And, in the second place, it allows the pharmacist to practice an aspect of medicine without a license. More chillingly, many of these bills are written so broadly and loosely that they could include just about any area of health care or any medication or procedure; and yet, the ultimate target seems to be, not so much safe legal abortion, but safe, legal contraception. This seems just a little odd when you think back to the 1980s when the Pro Life movement was swearing up and down that they were not interested in banning birth control. That means one of two things have happened. They changed their minds (which means you can't believe a word they say), or they lied in the first place (which means you can't believe a word they say)

.Of course, I can hear the self-proclaimed moralists even as I write this. "Pharmacists have rights too! You're trying to deny them the right to practice their Christian faith." Well, I'm sorry, but that is so beyond the scope of common sense that I don't know if I should laugh or cry. If you're a recovering alcoholic you probably aren't going to seek a job as a part time bartender. If you're a Mormon you probably won't get a job as a topless dancer. If you're allergic to roses and chrysanthemums you probably won't be working at your local florist. If you hate dogs you won't be answering that "help wanted" ad by your friendly, neighborhood Grooming Salon. If you're a pacifist you probably aren't going to sign up for military service. If you think boxing should be banned as a sport you probably won't be refereeing too many prizefights. And if you have a problem when it comes to dispensing birth control to female patients then you really should be looking for another line of work--unless our only reason for becoming a pharmacist in the first place is so that you can make it more difficult for women to obtain safe, legal contraception, in which case you deserve no pity nor protection since your so called values are more twisted than that old corkscrew in the back of your silverware drawer.

The only reason this became an issue in Wisconsin is because a pharmacist not only refused to fill a prescription, but also refused to transfer the prescription to another pharmacist, effectively denying the patient access to medication. That may sound trivial to some, but in a rural state like Wisconsin, especially in rural areas, where small towns often have only one drug store, a measure such as this could be a real hardship. It could require the patient to drive 20, 25, or even more miles to the next village. Have you ever tried to drive 20or 30 miles during a wintry day ion Northern Wisconsin? Trust me. It is not a pleasant, nor a safe experience.But that's the idea, isn't it? Those Orwellian named Freedom of Conscience Acts are just another means by which Radical Right Religionists can deny women safe, legal contraception; another means by which right wing Catholics, and reactionary Protestant Evangelicals can impose their theocratic, indeed fascist values on the rest of society.

It seems to me that right wing politicians, both male and female, either fear or envy strong, independent women. If given half a chance I'm sure that the religious right would be using whips and chains to keep us in the kitchen.

Luckily for us we figured out how to take away those whips long ago.

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1 comment:

Consider The Boot said...

Kelli, I frequently blog on women's issues and like many of us- have been following this for some time, as you know headlines were made by the Target controversy and more recently, WalMart in Mass. Because there were so many knee jerk reactions, many have appropriately decided to exercise caution on the cases springing up around the country to be sure we get the facts straight first.
The Target controversy went around the feminist blog community like wildfire, and while I support and read the bloggers of that community, many can also admit that the facts of the Target case were misunderstood initially. Also, much discussion ensued about whether or not the pill is an "abortificant", because many articles ran with conflicting information about the actions of the medication. There were some bloggers who even suggested that it might be 'technically' an abortion, but it should never be classified as such because of the implications should Roe be overturned.

The distinctions between "implantation deterrent" and "termination" become far more than matters of language- the future of this option might very well hinge on the answer. I applaud the bloggers out there whose persistence and fact checking led them to get it right!
I agree with your points, of course and found your introduction to be very interesting. But I think we need to make a distinction with one matter: the pharmacist. A pharmacist who works for a chain or an 'employer' whose views differ from his/her own when becoming voluntarily employed agrees to the terms of the EMPLOYER. In that respect, I do not see the argument on matters of conscience. They should follow the policy set forth by their employer.
But as far as individual owners, they have the freedom to sell what they wish and conduct their business as they see fit. Would we ask a kosher restaurant to violate the manner in which they do business? Would we go into a Vegan cafe and tell the proprietor that they have no right to moralize the meat debate? That they are 'stupid' to be chefs if they have no intention of cooking meat?

Would we enter a store with size seven and under women's clothing and demand they serve the spectrum of sizes? Certainly we could not do that.We might think it is more fair or decent to demand it, but it would never be legally uoheld unless the actions of a business broke the law, such as by serving alcohol to minors.

So this is the area the law must seek to settle and clarify- if pharmacies are bound, or PHARMACISTS are bound to provide 'typical' community medications.

I argue here that autonomy in business is key here LEGALLY, whether we women like that or not. (I don't!)I TOTALLY support the availability of these medications and understand the dilemma of the rural town.
It involves though, the question of whether or not we legislate the practices of an autonomous business person. I would like to see us force every pharmacist to supply it, but what concerns me are the fuzzy lines. Can a doctor decide not to see a patient? Yes. Can a hospital? Legally, no.

Can a pharmacist working for a CVS follow their convictions and go against their employer? No, because they choose to work there. But an independent, autonomous pharmacist- I begrudgingly say that they can conduct their business independently of regulation unless the law SPECIFICALLY dictates that they must differ. They can refuse to carry questionable vaccines and dangerous medications too- there are other ethical dilemmas that come up as well. Certainly this is not the first controversy, but since it relates to reproduction, these cases are now grabbing notice.

The question must be dealt with generally, but I suspect it will play out as I stated where the actions are dictated by the CAPACITY of the dispensing pharmacist.