When U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, a Republican Senate candidate, stated that women don’t become pregnant from “legitimate rape,” he insulted all women, especially survivors and victims of sexual assaults.
Akin’s misogynistic remarks defy scientific fact. Virulent anti-abortion forces deliberately promote this misinformation to try to stop legal abortions — and government funding for them — in cases of rape. Akin repeated the anti-abortion propaganda espoused by “Dr.” John Willke, a former leader of the so-called National Right to Life Committee, who deceitfully postulates that women “falsely report” rape to obtain abortions.
The right wing outrageously seeks to decide what is “real rape” and to blame women if their traumas aren’t “legitimate.” Moreover, they callously lack sympathy for survivors of sexual assaults, including statutory and date rape, all of which leave long-lasting scars.
Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan and Akin have colluded in Congress to try to redefine rape, so that Medicaid would fund fewer abortions for poor women.
This is a reactionary period during the worst global economic crisis since the 1930s. Wall Street seeks to solve its crisis by transferring even more wealth from working and poor people to the banks, including by stripping every government program that people’s movements won and millions need.
The right wing is unleashing vile demagogy in its ideological, political and economic war on women, workers, immigrants, people of color, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. While the superrich are trying to grab everything they can — and not pay taxes — they are scapegoating recipients of government benefits — which they blame for the budget “deficit” — and are targeting low-income and oppressed women.
Right-wing pundits and politicians are emboldened in slandering women to whip up their reactionary base to garner votes for the GOP Romney-Ryan presidential slate. They want to demolish Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other social programs, and aim to overturn women’s right to equal pay and more. Their platform proposes a constitutional amendment banning all abortions, with no rape or incest exceptions, and which could undo contraceptive rights.
But what about the Democrats?
Yet, can women put their trust in the Democrats to fight back? Can we forget Democratic President Jimmy Carter saying, “Life isn’t fair,” when he signed into law the Hyde Amendment in 1977, banning Medicaid funding of abortions? Pro-choice activists fought to win exceptions for rape, incest and to save a woman’s life, even though reactionaries unsuccessfully pushed the bogus “forcible rape” issue to curtail federal abortion funding. This law has been used to deny millions of low-income women safe medical procedures.
What about President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, who unleashed a war on poor women when he gutted Aid to Families with Dependent Children in 1996 and cut $55 billion from essential social programs? This act further impoverished countless women and their families and still has repercussions today.
Today’s Democratic administration could fight for a federal jobs program to aid women workers who are suffering from this unrelenting recession and number among the 25 million to 30 million unemployed and underemployed. It hasn’t.
Democrats could propose a minimum wage increase, as so many women have low-wage jobs and real wages are declining. They could strongly counter the attacks on public-sector unions, which have left many women, especially African Americans and Latinas, without jobs. On a federal level, they could fiercely oppose the massive child care cutbacks and women being shut out of crucial medical care in state after state. Locally, some progressive legislators do oppose reactionary measures inside their political institutions. However, much more is needed.
Can Democratic leaders be relied on to stand strong to keep Medicare and Social Security — which millions of women depend on — unscathed in Wall Street’s blitzkrieg? The Obama administration didn’t even raise a word of protest when the Supreme Court eliminated financial penalties for state governments that refuse to expand Medicaid in the federal health plan, thus harming millions of women.
Who can be counted on to fight for women’s rights? Women, in concert with other progressive forces and communities, in cohesive, strong, militant struggles.
Wall Street’s war on women and all working people calls out for a united fightback for women’s rights — together with other people’s movements — to push back the ruthless 1% of the 1%.
Capitalism is the problem. Mass struggle is the way to push back the right-wing offensive against women and the entire working class.