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Reproductive Rights Are Too Scandalous For Legislative Interns, But Guns Are Not

Reproductive Rights Are Too Scandalous For Legislative Interns, But Guns Are Not

There’s nothing dirtier than female reproductive organs. At least, that’s the message Florida state legislators are sending to their teenage pages.

Last week, the Florida state house debated a 20-week abortion ban, as part of a so-called “crimes against the unborn” measure that would give stiffer penalties to criminals who assault pregnant women if the assault results in the death of the fetus.

The Florida legislature makes use of pages and messengers — students who spend a week running errands for lawmakers and learning about how government works — except in the case of this one debate when the Republican leaders sent the teenagers away. Apparently the thought of their impressionable young minds being tainted by thoughts of abortion and vaginas was too much to bear.

Makes sense, when you think about it. I mean, Florida doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to providing comprehensive sex education to the state’s students. House leaders probably just thought the pages wouldn’t know what they were talking about anyway.

This isn’t the first time Florida Republicans have pulled something like this. In 2011, state House Republican leadership scolded a Democrat during yet another abortion debate for saying “uterus.” That’s right. In a debate about abortion, it’s apparently inappropriate to say “uterus.” Why? Not because these are adults with the emotional maturity of a sheltered 5-year-old. Nope. It’s because kids today just can’t handle that kind of language.

I wish I could say that I was surprised to hear Florida House Republicans did not learn their lesson, but I’m not. I’m not surprised that a political party that has made it its mission to turn back the clock on women’s rights is trying to pass its pathologies on to a new generation.

Why should I be? This is only a symptom of a larger problem. We live in a world in which all things feminine are bad, gross and not to be talked about in polite company. We live in a post-code world. Depictions of women enjoying their sexuality are considered pornographic. Women are expected to walk the line of attractive, but not slutty, which is a distinction often only made in the eye of the beholder.

It goes beyond sex, though. Fashion is undeniably an art, yet is a form that is derided as shallow. It’s also stereotypically female. Teenage girls are derided for fan-girling out over boy bands, when they are really just expressing their enthusiasm for something they love. You don’t have to like all of these things. Indeed, I was a teenage girl once and I didn’t like most of the things that other teenage girls liked. But it’s hard to deny that when you want to classify something as vacuous, the easiest way to do it is to connect it to a teenage girl.

There are many levels on which to be angry and frustrated at the Florida GOP for their actions here. It assumes that teenagers can’t handle a discussion on reproductive health, even though some of these pages and messengers are young women who will be directly impacted by decisions made on the floor of the state legislature. Even though one hopes that all of these young women and men will grow up to be civically-engaged adults with knowledge of the pressing issues of the day. Government intrusion into a woman’s uterus is perfectly acceptable to debate, just not in front of young ears. Actions like this obscure the workings of a government that are actively trying to take away the rights of women. All in the name of the children.

For what it’s worth, the leadership did let the pages and messengers back in after the abortion debate was over. The next topic on the agenda? Guns. It’s a mad world.

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Photo Credit: Kate Ausburn via Flickr

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90 comments

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8:53AM PDT on Jul 12, 2014

Government doesn't belong in a personal person's health care decisions.

I believe in gun rights. If we didn't have guns we would all be speaking Japanese after WWII. Or history will repeat itself!

11:29AM PDT on May 26, 2014

Where does Florida find some of its representatives? In the Dark Ages? Oh, and probably in the country of bigotry...

10:56PM PDT on Apr 21, 2014

Our Repuglican "leaders" sound like a bunch of pre-adolescent school boys snickering about "dirty magazines". They need to GROW UP!

6:19PM PDT on Apr 21, 2014

Thank-you for sharing. T.R ;)

2:59AM PDT on Apr 21, 2014

Thanks for sharing

2:30PM PDT on Apr 20, 2014

This is what RELIGION does to people, they can't see straight for the life of them blinded by the INVISIBLE. Can't these people they are already in HELL, the HELL they CREATED!

4:54PM PDT on Apr 19, 2014

End misogyny now!

3:33PM PDT on Apr 19, 2014

Pregnancy isn't like having the common cold....women still suffer many medical issues resulting from it and some still die.

Spontaneous abortion is seen in 13% to 20% of all diagnosed pregnancies. In the U.S., there are approximately 900,000 pregnancy losses in the first trimester per year......according to the AMA. Apparently, life in the womb is very expendable according to mother-nature or GOD .....only men without a vagina believe women are only breeders.

1:32PM PDT on Apr 19, 2014

One reason might be that the legislators don't want the interns to know that what they're doing to them is wrong... Oh, but we know legislators don't mess around with interns. Don't we?
They can't hear about abortion but they can hear about guns.
Sometimes it's embarrassing to be a Floridian.

10:41PM PDT on Apr 18, 2014

thanks for sharing... im really surprised to see that a state of America is so retarded!!

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