Do what we say or the women will die.
That may sound like some kind of villainous threat in a Wild West melodrama, but it is exactly what the Rick Perry administration in Texas is saying today.
Planned Parenthood is suing the state for unlawfully excluding PP and its hundreds of thousands of patients from life-saving women’s health services. Perry’s health czar says that if Planned Parenthood wins the state will shut down the entire Women’s Health Program.
In Congress, Republican leaders are willing to sacrifice the lives of countless women because they believe some women may be taking advantage of special privacy rules for undocumented immigrants in domestic abuse cases.
They will sacrifice the lives and health of women who are victims of domestic violence to theoretically stop a problem no one has any evidence exists. Some House Republicans are changing the Violence Against Women’s Act to end privacy and other protections for immigrant women, arguing that some (imagined) immigrants might be making false claims of domestic abuse so they can more quickly become citizens. An unquestioned consequence of the change is that actual victims will be exposed to greater physical danger.
Ideology has many on the Right in its death-grip. There is no means morally unfit for the ends of their ideologies. That is a scary thing to contemplate. The Right’s xenophobic, anti-immigrant racism leads it to nod in approval at the collateral damage to women so long as some foreigners can be taken out. The Right’s desire to turn women into second-class citizens whose bodies were given by God for their menfolk to control leads to the justification of ill health and unnecessary death for millions of women. That’s okay with them, too.
Until, that is, their immorality begins to drag them down in the polls because American women of all kinds are seeing the awful truth for what it is. Then begin the protests of innocence.
There’ll be howls of protests from the Right for the analogy I’m about to make. But I believe it fits. When U.S. Speaker John Boehner takes to the House floor to rail away at the absolutely accurate labeling of his party’s war on women as a war on women, he acts just like the abusive husband protesting to investigating officers that he’s done nothing wrong.
Now, quickly, John Boehner is not an abusive husband. But he is guilty of presiding over a war on women, and when the polls show that the neighbors have called and turned him in, his over-the-top protests are just like those of the guilty perp in the dirty undershirt down the street.
Here’s how the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice describes such posturing in an in-service training course for officers, “Interviewing Techniques in Domestic Violence Cases”:
…the batterer may be angry that some strangers have intruded into family affairs…They may deny that abuse has occurred or minimize the degree of the abuse. They may also blame their partner [the victim] and [say] that they had no other option but to take corrective action.
When Rush Limbaugh attacked Sandra Fluke he was modeling the police profile of the abuser’s defense. When John Boehner denied on the House floor that women were harmed by Right-wing policies, he sounded much the same:
“And now, now we are going to have a fight over women’s health. Give me a break. This is the latest plank in the so-called war on women. Entirely created, entirely created by my colleagues across the aisle for political gain.”
I don’t doubt that many Republican officeholders really don’t want anything to do with the war on women, but they themselves are hostage to the ideological takeover of their party. They have to bash immigrants and Planned Parenthood, and if women suffer as a result of their pandering, well, they’ll just deny it to themselves the way people do when they can’t face the truth about the consequences of their actions.
There are certainly others on the Right who believe women are inferior humans who ought to obey their betters the way some crazy notion of God says they should. I think they are a minority on the Right, but they are nonetheless the panderees. They are in control. They are the audience that must be pleased, even if pleasing them isn’t just unpleasant for others, but deadly.