|War On Women: The White House Scorns Aid Programs That Help Women|
War On Women: The White House Scorns Aid Programs That Help Women
Arizona Daily Star, November 19, 2002
If women around the world—indeed, if women in this country—are feeling assaulted by the Bush administration, there is good reason. The White House has been busy withholding money for programs and imposing outrageous restrictions on U.S. funding for women's health care around the world. All of it is based, in some form or another, on the Bush opposition to abortion, and incredibly, the use of contraceptives.
The information comes from a fact sheet distributed by the International Women's Health Coalition, headquartered in New York. The coalition succinctly titles the fact sheet "Bush's Other War: The Assault on Women's Sexual and Reproductive Rights."
Bush's assault is headquartered right here in the United States, where the administration has pushed State Child Health Insurance Plus, which extends coverage from the time before birth to age 19. A zygote, an embryo and a fetus are now classified as people eligible for aid from the government. As soon as the legislation was passed, however, pregnant women were removed from eligibility. This inexplicable step supports the belief that the program is nothing more than a preliminary move in trying to outlaw abortion.
Funding for any sort of health care for women in poverty is hard to come by from this administration. Funding levels are stuck at the level of the 1980s, half of what is estimated necessary today. These are not luxury items. The services include contraceptives, gynecological exams, pregnancy testing, cervical and breast cancer screening, and screenings for high-blood pressure, diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV as well as health education for low-income Americans.
While cutting funds for those services, the administration has increased government funding for abstinence-only sex education. At the same time, it has eliminated prescription drug coverage for contraception.
The story is even worse around the world. After Congress appropriated $34 million as a contribution to the United Nations Population Fund, the administration blocked release of the funds. The administration mistakenly asserted that the fund supported coerced abortion and sterilization in China. A State Department investigation found no such evidence, but the administration has no funds set aside for fiscal year 2003.
In still another Bush mandate, the administration has issued a gag rule for medical services to poor women around the globe provided by U.S. subsidies. This rule forbids non-governmental organizations from distributing information about legal abortion options—even if the women find other sources of funding to pay for such a service.
These are but a few of the attacks on women. The fact sheet includes an entire section on judicial appointments, all candidates apparently selected for their staunch anti-abortion stances. Another portion of the fact sheet examines the administration's use of financial audits "to harass non-profit grantees that provide comprehensive education on STIs (sexually transmitted infections) and pregnancy prevention, but do not adhere to the administration's position that the only acceptable means of achieving this goal is to urge abstinence."
Clearly, this administration does not trust women to make decisions about their own reproductive matters. Moreover, it is using the power of an entire First World Government to browbeat poor women into anti-abortion submission.
Worse than that, it is withholding vital medical services to poor women around the world as a result of its conservative and religiously based doctrine. It seems not to understand that withholding vital reproductive services leads to the creation of even more poverty stricken people.
These are only some of the examples contained in the fact sheet. The coalition makes a good case for an administration wildly out of tune with the realities of women and the realities of a poverty stricken existence.
For all of Bush's popularity, women might want to take a look at how he views their ability to make decisions about their own bodies.
Most would probably find that his misogynistic attitude is not far from that of Third-World, patriarchal societies in the news today, in which women are little more than vessels used to produce sons.
© 2002 The Arizona Daily Star