Slipping Back into the Dark Ages: Arizona's Woman Governor Plays God with Women's Rights

By Chitra Sundaram

Are politics making you nervous?Are politics making you nervous?As I scanned the weekend postings on Forbes Woman online, I was puzzled by the lack of any discussion on the "Whole Woman's Health Funding Priority Act," signed into law by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on May 5th, 2012. Similar laws are being discussed in New Hampshire, and are already signed (although in many are being disputed) in Texas, Tennessee, Vermont, Indiana, and Kansas. Click on the hyperlink above for the 2-pager amendment than likely affects the health care outcomes of 4,000 women who receive medicaid-funded health care in the state of Arizona, and countless more in states who have signed or plan to sign such rules into law.

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Look at the statistics of abortions in the United States: the majority, fully 42% of abortions are requested by women below the poverty level; 61% of women seeking abortions already have at least one child; and 1/2 of the pregnancies in the United States are unintentional. The economic plight of women seeking abortion is a lot more pitiful than the ethnic breakdown (which is fairly equal across white, black and hispanic women) or religious (fairly even between protestants and catholic). And that IS the reason why this happens isn't it? That "popular" laws get past, no real discussion occurs online or offline, and comments like the one I read on another forum online occur, namely, that "Taxpayers money should NEVER be used to pay for someone to get an abortion because someone couldn't keep their legs closed or be more responsible". The silent masses, much as Margaret Sanger, a pioneer in Women's reproductive rights and one of the founders of Planned Parenthood found during her travails, remain ignored. They live and die on the fringes of society, in pockets of dire poverty and inner city tenements, even in an ultra-rich country like ours. Yet they might as well not exist as far as politicians, and commentators are concerned. If poor women get pregnant, it must be because they are sluts. And the fact that they can't afford to have a child simply means that they shouldn't have sex! And the possibility that they might be living in overtly or covertly abusive situations matters little to the ideological pundit. Finally, if the unwanted child is to be forced upon a woman or family, the State of Arizona, facing similar budget deficits to other states has cut into the very programs that might help ease the financial strain on such families.

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In passing, it's rather comical that Ms. Sanger lived her final years (after retiring from active advocacy) in Arizona's "Catalina foothills". And here's food for thought for all those politicians and commentators who like to claim that "abortion is 95% of what Planned Parenthood does": most of Planned Parenthood's founders, including Ms Sanger, were about as cautious of the indiscriminate use of abortion as any conservative commentator. Ms. Sanger's writings, for example, make it clear that she saw abortion as a last resort given its physiological and psychological affects on women and their partners who undertake it. In a civilized society that values individual liberties, however, how can a state or federal government say that you basically have "one" chance to avoid pregnancy - through birth control? (a right, which we might note it took almost 65 years to achieve). If however, for any reason (error, or inefficacy) you screw up, you must be forced to have children you cannot afford? It is reprehensible enough when governments like the Chinese enforce a rule of no more than one child per family. How is it any different when a government insists that we cannot limit the size of it?

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