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I’ve been reading the liberal memes on Facebook about abortion.  I’m sure you’ve seen them.  Memes like “Republican Platform Calls for Constitutional Amendment Banning Abortion with No Exception for Rape or Incest.”  They excoriate the conservative position for not having the exceptions, and they’re right to do so although they don’t go far enough.

The problem is that they’re giving away half the game to conservatives.  Exceptions for rape or incest should be a given.  Only a cruel person would force a woman who has been raped to carry a rapist’s baby to term, then give birth, and then allow the rapist to have parental rights (in some states).  That is cruel — cruel and unusual punishment —  for a woman who has already been violated once by the rapist.

This whole issue of abortion boils down to one word: choice.  It’s about freedom — freedom for a woman to make decisions about her body.  It’s really that simple.

But as framed by Democrats and the President, the current debate about abortion — centered as it is around rape victims and the health exception — put women in the position of supplicants, seeking permission to end their pregnancies. Most people, fortunately, think there are circumstances where that permission should be granted. But true freedom is not freedom to ask permission—it’s freedom to make a decision. That’s what pro-choice really means, and it would be healthy for abortion-rights supporters to say so clearly and often.

Republicans want to eliminate a woman’s right to choose what happens in her body.  They want to take away a woman’s freedom to make decisions, a major theme in “The Handmaid’s Tale“.  (I’m rereading this now, and there are quite a few parallels to America today.  Give it a read if you haven’t read it or if it’s been awhile; it’s worth your time.)  Liberals are allowing the anti-abortion groups to stake out the moral high ground when it isn’t there’s to stake out.  They need to stop giving away the store.

No one likes abortion.  No one.  Everyone is pro-life.  Some are pro-choice (I am pro-choice); some are anti-choice.  Those are the accurate labels.  So why do those who are pro-choice allow those who are anti-choice to frame the argument that way?  (This problem — allowing conservatives to frame the debate in their terms — isn’t unique to the abortion debate.)

Instead of curtailing a woman’s freedom, we need to take pragmatic steps to reduce abortion.  I think nearly everyone wants fewer abortions.  We should provide realistic, good sex education in schools.  We also need to provide access and training for contraception.

People honestly need to grow up in this country.  Teenagers and adults are going to have sex.  Pregnancies might occur.  Teaching people how to prevent pregnancy will have a desired effect — fewer abortions.

People who are pro-choice should frame the argument as it really is.  It’s about choice.  It’s about freedom.  And only down the line is it about abortion.

Republicans are waging a war on women on multiple fronts all over the country.  It’s happening in Congress, it’s happening in state legislatures all over the nation, and it’s happening in conservative media.  Yes, there are some liberals who are chauvinistic in their comments.  But on the left, there isn’t the concerted war on women the way there is on the right.

Let’s start with the legislative war.  This takes the form of defunding Planned Parenthood in the name of reducing or eliminating abortions.  This is happening in Congress, and in several of the states.  And it happened by a major charity.  It’s an open attack on abortion rights, and a woman’s right to choose.  It also takes the form of truly horrid and regressive laws, like the one Virginia tried to pass earlier this year.  It doesn’t matter that some of these laws aren’t passing.  It’s like fighting a forest fire — attacks are coming from all over the place.

It doesn’t seem to matter that the laws defunding Planned Parenthood are counterintuitive, or that the laws will actually do a lot of harm.  Planned Parenthood provides quite a lot of women’s health services, such as routine pap smears or breast exams.  (They also provide contraception.)  No, they provide abortions, so they’re bad.  All bad.

Look, if you really want to reduce or eliminate abortions, educate people (especially teenagers and preteens) on what sex really is, and the possible consequences of not doing it safely.  People are going to have sex, no matter how much Republicans try to deny that fact.  So why not give them the tools to do it safely, and to prevent the pregnancies from happening in the first place?

Today in Michigan, two female Democratic legislators were silenced on the House floor for daring to oppose the heinous abortion bill that passed there today.  They wanted to apply the same law to vasectomies.  Turn about is fair play, after all.

Probably worst of all, Republicans are seeking to redefine the definition of rape.  And then they want to prevent the use of any tax money to pay for abortion.  Yesterday, a story was published about House Republicans blocking abortion access for soldiers who have been raped.

These policies are misogynistic and misguided.  Actually, misguided isn’t strong enough.  They’re simply wrong.   The New York Times editorialized about this on May 19.  (It’s too long to post here, but I recommend reading it all.)  Frank Rich also wrote a long New York Magazine piece on this that points out what’s happening.

Stop having sex with us, gentlemen, and I ask women to boycott men ...

The question, really, is what do we do about it?  There have been some suggestions about having a sex strike.  That’s not really a bad idea.  But it’s not all that practical.  The only way to get their attention is to have people flood their phones and email boxes and snail mail boxes.  And then to start making their approval ratings go down by answering polls when called.

Ultimately, women and people who actually like women have to vote this fall.These ultra-religious right-wing Republicans need to lose their seats this fall.  That means that people will have to actually vote their interests, unlike what many red state residents do.

Conservative women absolutely need to stand up and remind these legislators that they all have mothers and wives and daughters and sisters and maybe mistresses.  Republicans have to be loudly reminded that their women are not going to stand for this.  They need to be reminded that if they want to pursue these misogynistic policies, there will be consequences.  Maybe those won’t come today, but they will come.  Women make up more than 50% of the population.  Women will become more and more alienated.  Republicans will not continue to win elections except in the most extreme places without the support of women.  Without the support of women, the Republican Party — the Grand Old Party — will die.