The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

March 24, 2012

Gwen Hunt, guest columnist: Rekindling the war on women’s rights

By Gwen Hunt

— At the risk of calling down the wrath of Rush Limbaugh on my head, I would like to say a few words about the current state of women’s rights — reproductive and otherwise.

And I will even risk being labeled another “commie babe socialist,” as Limbaugh so colorfully called our senator, Claire McCaskill.

Just when we thought things couldn’t get any more outrageous on the political front, along comes the firestorm surrounding a woman’s control of her own body, replete with an almost impenetrable fog of lies and misinformation. This is not a war on religion or faith, but quite simply a war on women’s rights.

I would like to hear some logical and dispassionate answers to the following questions:  

Why shouldn’t medically prescribed contraceptives be covered by a health insurance policy, just as medicine to regulate insulin or lower cholesterol or other helpful medicines are?

Why is it OK for insurance companies to cover vasectomies for men, but not contraceptives for women?

Why should a woman be denied such coverage just because she happens to work for a business owned by a religious entity that opposes contraception, even though she is not a member of that particular religion? Does that not interfere with her rights and beliefs?

In this economy, shouldn’t families have a right to the means of limiting the number of children they have to better provide for each of them?

Shouldn’t a woman have the right to guard her health by planning when and how often to have children, or whether to have them at all? (I emphasize that this question has nothing whatsoever to do with abortion, which is a different issue. Contraception does not equal abortion.)   

Finally, when 20 million radio listeners heard Rush Limbaugh call women who use contraceptives and want insurance coverage for them “feminazis,” “sluts” and “prostitutes,” where was the condemnation from the Republican candidates and the congressional Republican leadership of such insults? The only comment from a man who desperately wants to be president, Mitt Romney, was that he “wouldn’t have used those words.” A clearer endorsement of Limbaugh’s comments could hardly be made.

A law recently introduced in the Arizona Legislature would require a woman to tell her employer why she is taking contraceptive drugs, whether for birth control or other medical reasons. If any of these reasons conflict with the boss’s religious or moral convictions, he would have the right to fire her or to refuse to hire her.

Really. Someone actually thinks this is an idea with moral, legal and constitutional integrity?

All across the country, legislatures are being presented with bills that represent the epitome of government interference in private life — the very thing that conservatives fulminate against as the greatest evil of our time. How can they say they want government out of our lives and then design to place it in the most intimate place — a woman’s body?

Gwen Hunt lives in Webb City.