Conservatives Creating Their Own Reality: Dangerous And Dumb Lawmakers Threaten Women’s Health

Dont Mess With Texas Women

Women protesting cuts in Texas’ Women’s Health Program in March, 2013. Photo from NPR.

It seems to me that those opposing sex education — and other measures promoting women’s health — could really have benefited from the experience. Take for example, Texas State Representative Jodie Laubenberg, who in February of this year co-sponsored a bill called the Texas Parental Control Accountability Act. HB 1057 — supposedly written to counter the many “drug based” sex education programs popping up in Texas schools, and to counter the scheme of Planned Parenthood to recruit students and push their “abortion based agenda” on them — made it illegal for “abortion providers or anyone affiliated with them” to provide sex education instruction or materials in Texas Public Schools. So basically, only one point of view is to be taught in Texas, and that point of view is the one held by the extreme right and the “information control freaks” otherwise known as the Christian Fundamentalists. The bill is obviously designed not to educate students, but to keep students from becoming educated and therefore possibly adopting an opinion contrary to those espoused by the right-wing of Texas.

Recently, as Texas Republicans worked to ram through religious based policy regarding women’s health and reproductive choices, Laubenberg made this statement on the House Floor “In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out.

While I find it highly unlikely that any readers on this article don’t understand what is wrong with that statement, I will, for the sake of anyone who has never watched an episode of Law and Order or CSI or had a non-religious based sex education course, link to this useful website, which is operated by RAINN (the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization). No, a rape kit it is not a “clean you out kit’, it is an evidence collection kit, designed to help law enforcement agencies find and convict a perpetrator of sexual assault.

The fact that Laubenberg herself, one of the co-sponsors of Texas anti-sex education legislation, is so uninformed about the issues she legislates, tells us that if anyone needs fact based sex education it’s her. But instead of researching the issues or becoming informed before she casts a vote that will effect thousands of women in her state, she chooses to remain entirely ignorant, and worse, to spread this kind of horrible misinformation to others, while acting as a duly elected representative of the public.

It’s not just this one conservative representative, either. If it were, maybe we could overlook it, as an isolated incident. Unfortunately, however, it’s the majority of Republicans that are rampantly spreading ignorance like the black plague, across the entire country. It’s the Todd Akins, professing that “Women’s bodies have ways of shutting that whole thing down” when discussing how rape victim’s apparently can’t become pregnant. Instead of citing fact based research or even national statistics (which show that there are more than 32,000 pregnancy per year that are the result of rape) he chose to cite a discredited theory that was first developed in the death camps of Nazi Germany, in which prisoners who were starved and tortured, were also raped as an “experiment” meant to determine the rate of pregnancy that would result. And where does Todd Akin stand on sex education? While abstinence only policies are par for the course in Missouri, the state that gave us Todd Akn, his own views go even further into the extreme. In a November 6th, 2012 open debate against opponent Claire McCaskill, Akin stated that he would support ending the US Department of Education altogether, due to his beliefs that education of children is best left to parents.

It’s a whole realm of conservatives who’ve made headlines recently, including Texas Representative Michael Burgess, who told a stunned congress that fetuses as young as 15 weeks have been seen “touching themselves”. While Burgess gave no reference for this absurd statement, some have supposed that his comments may have been based on a 1996 letter written by two doctors who claimed to have observed a female fetus of 32 weeks masturbating in the womb. The two letter writers also offered no further evidence to support their claim, beyond their own pronouncement that they had “witnessed” this unprecedented event. In reality, these remarks portray not just a lack of Scientific understanding, but they also demonstrate a pretty serious lack of experience in, or exposure to, newborn infants, who are a long ways off from mastering any skill like masturbation, or from reaching for/touching anything in a deliberate manner. Even a fully developed newborn cannot scratch an itch, let alone self gratify in the way that Burgess and the unnamed letter writers assert. On the other hand, the facts tell us that a fetus of 15 weeks is about 4 inches long and weighs about 2 ½ ounces. If you’ve seen a 15 week ultrasound picture, you probably already realize that in general it’s very difficult to make out anything you’re looking at. The Republican Party of Texas (to which Burgess belongs) officially opposes any form of sex education other than abstinence. They also state that a fetus has the “right to life under the US Constitution” and yet they vehemently oppose ratification of the United Nations Convention on the “Rights of the Child”. It’s probably all related to the fact that they also oppose the teaching of critical thinking skills, as well.

Whether they are talking about rape, sex, pregnancy, sex education or any related topic, the Republican Party has repeatedly shown their ignorance and therefore, their desperate need for some kind of fact based education about reproductive health. Whether passing laws that force doctors to make statements that are blatantly untrue, or those that allow doctors to forcibly violate a woman’s body via the use of vaginal probes, we can clearly see the damage done when uneducated and uninformed lawmakers gain power to legislate via extreme religious beliefs that have grown into a cultist obsession, and clearly lost all grasp of reality.