1. Take, and Pass Biology 101
I know in the era of the “honest rape” leadership in the Republican party where grown men believe women can’t get pregnant from a rape because their body will “shut it all down” and then legislate based on that belief, that a basic understanding of human biology may be a lot to ask for, but that’s exactly why this is the first resolution anti-choice lawmakers should make and keep in 2013. Abortion is, after all, nothing more than a medical procedure that has become saturated with politics, which makes abortion restrictions matters of public health policy. Matters of public health policy should be governed by science and our legislators should have to certify they have a basic understanding of biology before sponsoring any piece of legislation that impacts public health policy.
2. Talk To Women
A lot like “Take and Pass Biology 101,” the idea that male legislators would defer to their women colleagues on matters of women’s health is, sadly, absurd given the current conservative movement. I mean, look at Michigan where lawmakers censured women for using the word “vagina” during a debate about abortion restrictions. If lawmakers can’t say it, they shouldn’t regulate it. And who could forget the Darrell Issa contraception hearings where not a single woman was allowed to testify on the impact requiring health insurance companies to cover contraception would have on religious liberties.
It’s not just that these lawmakers ignored women, or considered them afterthoughts in the legislative process. More seriously, it raises a very real question about what motivates the explosion of anti-choice legislating by white guys. Access to family planning services and reproductive health care is essential for women to achieve, and maintain, the ability to earn a living and be fully self-sufficient. Why do conservative men want to take that away? Let’s make them answer that question specifically in 2013.
3. Listen To Voters
The 2012 election culminated in voters sending politicians a very loud, very clear message: stop with all the anti-woman legislation. 2011-2012 saw a dramatic uptick in anti-choice activity at the state level. In the last year, legislators introduced more than 1,100 reproductive health and rights-related provisions with fully 68% of these new provisions restricting access to abortion services. These bills came at the expense of other measures that could have helped put millions back to work. And as a result, in the November election, conservatives lost hard.
So naturally the first thing conservatives do after such a stunning defeat is to double-down on the strategy that lost the election for them. Texas refuses to ease up in its campaign to make the state contraceptive and abortion free for low-income women while Michigan Republicans used the lame duck session to pass an enormous abortion omnibus bill designed to regulate many clinics out of existence.
Imagine if in 2013 conservatives actually got the message and lawmakers focused their energy on rebuilding infrastructure, securing our schools, and creating smart economic policy that will drive innovative development. If they resolved to listen to voters, they would.
4. Learn to Love The Pill (Again)
Believe it or not, government-funded family planning services used to be a pet policy of religious conservatives. It’s not too hard to see why. Contraceptive use reduces the rates of unintended pregnancies, which therefore reduce the rates of elective abortion and chances a young girl will fall into poverty via single-motherhood. For those that insist the anti-choice movement is not anti-woman, broad support of family planning funding and contraceptive use was always the most convincing evidence in their favor.
Which is why the conservative movement needs to purge the Rick Santorum, Steve King, Paul Ryan element from its leadership. Under siege by religious evangelicals, conservatives have not just turned their backs on government-supported family planning services, they have gone totally upside down on contraception, calling for a re-criminalization of birth control. If the Republican party has any hope of functioning as anything other than the governing arm of religious extremists, it can do this in 2013 by falling in love, all over again, with contraception and family planning.
Photo from qnr via flickr.