Health

Happy International War on Women’s Day

As the 2012 election draws closer, Democrats desperately want to divert the public’s attention away from President Obama’s abysmal record on the economy and jobs. It seems no attack on Republicans is too absurd or too low to make toward that effort. Case in point: The Democrats now preposterously claim that the GOP is waging a “War on Women,” and the  media is shamelessly going along with that fact-free propaganda slogan. With a straight face, they insist that Americans should be gullible enough to believe that Republicans truly hate women and want to enact laws to prevent them from getting any birth control.

The truth is, Republicans simply don’t want to have to pay for someone else’s birth control—or use government force to require a religious institution to violate its sacred beliefs. The GOP wants to stay out of bedrooms and churches. (To nip the standard liberal red herring in the bud: no, being pro-life is not being in your bedroom; it’s being pro-pre-natal care. Using the Democratic playbook, Republicans could easily, disingenuously ask: Why do Democrats hate pre-natal care?)

Women writers from across the political spectrum have documented the fact that when it comes to making vicious attacks on female political opponents, the Democrats take the cake…and then deny they ate it. Democratic strategist Kirsten Powers bravely penned a piece for the Daily Beast (“Rush Limbaugh Isn’t the Only Media Misogynist”), calling out liberally abusive commentators:

Did you know there is a war on women? Yes, it’s true. Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Bill Maher, Matt Taibbi, and Ed Schultz have been waging it for years with their misogynist outbursts.

Right-wing author Michelle Malkin’s most recent syndicated column, “The War on Conservative Women,” chronicled the ugly side of being a conservative woman in the public eye from her own personal experience. In it, she also pointed out that it’s not just liberal men doing the name-calling and slandering:

Self-serving opponents argue that such attacks do not represent “respectable,” “mainstream” liberal opinion about their conservative female counterparts. But it was feminist godmother Gloria Steinem who called Texas Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison a “female impersonator.” It was NOW leader Patricia Ireland who commanded her flock to only vote for “authentic” female political candidates. It was Al Gore consultant Naomi Wolf who accused the late Jeane Kirkpatrick of being “uninflected by the experiences of the female body.”

Conservative blogger Nice Deb has dug through the internet to compile another collection of left-wing venom and hypocrisy in her post “The Left’s War On Conservative Women.”

The Real War on Women
It all seems so important, proving our side is the truly aggrieved party—and it is, in terms of not letting a false narrative take root in the minds of the voting public. But when it comes to the phrase “War on Women,” it is utterly ridiculous for that phrase to be used in relation to any Western women. On this International Women’s Day, we need to turn our eyes to the true assaults on women.

One such assault was launched yesterday by the Afghanistan government and clerics. The US-sanctioned appeasement of the Taliban has begun blossoming in full, with Afghan women getting pushed back into the burqa and isolated in the home. As reported in the back pages of American newspapers (and on FoxNews.com):

Afghanistan’s president on Tuesday endorsed a “code of conduct” issued by an influential council of clerics that activists say represents a giant step backward for women’s rights in the country.

President Hamid Karzai’s Tuesday endorsement of the Ulema Council’s document, which allows husbands to beat wives under certain circumstances and encourages segregation of the sexes, is seen as part of his outreach to insurgents like the Taliban.

Both the U.S. and Karzai hope that the Taliban can be brought into negotiations to end the country’s decade-long war. But activists say they’re worried that gains made by women since 2001 may be lost in the process.

While the Democrats and their leader, Barack Obama, have taken to the microphones to phonily decry their ginned-up “GOP war on women” since this declaration was made, they have uttered no disapproval of the Afghan move. After all, if they were to complain, they might hinder the negotiations to turn the country over to the Taliban (ok, perhaps not officially, but does anyone doubt that will be the end result?) so our military can hurriedly leave by Obama’s rushed political timetable.

Surely our Secretary of State Hillary Clinton—who used to tout her daring to lecture China on women’s rights during her stint as First Lady—would feel compelled to speak out and issue a statement. But no, she didn’t, even though she, and Obama, had to have seen this coming.

Two years ago, she authorized $500 million to go to Karzai to grease the wheels in negotiating with the women-hating people killing our soldiers: the Taliban and other “insurgents.” Then, in May 2010 when Karzai visited DC and the public expressed concern over his Taliban negotiations, Clinton vowed to a group of visiting Afghan women, “We will not abandon you, we will stand with you always.”

But feminist-hero Clinton’s State Department has been waffling and weakening on Afghan women’s rights ever since. Now, in the wake of this new and worrisome development, instead of taking Karzai to task, they have stuck their head in the sand and made not a peep about this reignition of a true War on Women.

Here’s a few things with which Clinton and the Obama State Department have no problem, as reported in the FoxNews.com story:

Among the rules: Women should not travel without a male guardian and women should not mingle with strange men in places like schools, markets or offices. Beating one’s wife is prohibited only if there is no “Shariah-compliant reason,” it said, referring to the principles of Islamic law.

Asked about the code of conduct at a press conference in the capital, Karzai said it was in line with Islamic law and was written in consultation with Afghan women’s groups. He did not name the groups that were consulted.

“The clerics’ council of Afghanistan did not put any limitations on women,” Karzai said, adding: “It is the Shariah law of all Muslims and all Afghans.”

According to the Guardian, Karzai’s Taliban appeasement could lead to the expulsion of women from the Afghan government and the loss of 10 years of hard-won gains:

The clerics renounced the equality of men and women enshrined in the Afghan constitution, suggesting they consider the document that forms the basis of the Afghan state to be flawed from a religious perspective.

“Men are fundamental and women are secondary,” the statement says, according to a translation by Afghan analyst Ahmad Shuja. “Also, lineage is derived from the man. Therefore, the use of words and expressions that contradict the sacred verses must be strictly avoided.”

The statement drew criticism in parliament, where some politicians took it as a direct assault on the constitution and the wider government. If a ban on men and women working and studying together were implemented, it would in effect dissolve the legislature. (emphasis added)

How ironic that just last week, Obama issued his annual proclamation declaring March as Women’s History Month, with today March 8 as International Women’s Day. What a history we have developing in Afghanistan.

Likewise, the UN issued an International Women’s Day statement from their United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan calling on the Karzai government to finally get around to implementing its anti-violence against women act:

Enacted in August 2009, the landmark Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW) law criminalises child marriage, forced marriage, selling and buying women for the purpose or under the pretext of marriage, baad (giving away a woman or girl to settle a dispute), forced self-immolation and 17 other acts of violence against women including rape and beating. It also specifies punishment for perpetrators.

In spite of these legal protections under the EVAW law and other constitutional safeguards for women, violence against women and girls remains pervasive in Afghanistan with an inconsistent response from Afghan authorities.

UNAMA found that judicial and law enforcement officials were implementing sporadically the two-year-old law and were not yet applying the law to the majority of cases of violence against women. The report determined that many cases of violence against Afghan women were withdrawn or mediated including serious crimes that would require prosecution with a low number of cases prosecuted.

“I have knocked all doors to get rid of violence but all my complaints had fallen on deaf ears. Instead, the prosecutor accused me of lying and warned me of dire consequence,” 15-year-old Sadat said while undergoing treatment in a Herat hospital. She had set herself on fire due to repeated and unaddressed domestic violence. Sadat later died in a hospital in Turkey where she was taken for further treatment.

They can quote a 15-year-old girl’s heart-breaking words from her deathbed, but the UN can’t bother to note the deal Karzai had just approved days before that will make life brutal again for all the other women and girls of Afghanistan.

But the real War on Women is not confined to Afghanistan. It is being waged on women around the world, as Nina Shea, co-author of Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes are Choking Freedom Worldwideshowed in an excellent roundup at National Review Online, outlining the atrocities happening daily in:

  • China: “If the brave woman still refuses to submit [to aborting babies to conform with the one-child government], she may be held in a punishment cell, or, if she flees, her relatives may be held and, very often, beaten”
  • North Korea:  ”Pregnant women are forced to undergo abortions, even in their third trimester, for the crime of carrying ‘Chinese seed.’”
  • Saudi Arabia: Among the laundry list of outrages and horrors against women, “Women are also at risk of being charged with putting spells on men under laws against witchcraft, a capital crime. A Sudanese woman was beheaded in December for sorcery.”
  • Iran: Another laundry list that reads like an upgrade to a club membership (in addition to the Saudi Arabia-level benefits, you will also receive…), which includes “The law permits a man to kill his adulterous wife and women convicted of adultery can be sentenced to stoning.”
  • Pakistan: Even as a supposedly more enlightened Muslim society, Shea notes Pakistan’s “persistent practice of forcing rape victims to marry their rapists, a situation that becomes compounded by forcible conversion to Islam [when the woman or young girl is Christian].”

Shea didn’t have room to mention hundreds of other unspeakable offenses, including ones that occur outside the Muslim world, such as India’s pervasive problem with selectively aborting female babies, creating extreme societal problems that are also seen in China where they abide a similar practice as a result of the one-child policy.

The point is, those are the places that are experiencing a real War on Women, not here in Chicago, El Paso and San Francisco. It is an insult to those women fighting real threats in distant lands to apply that phrase to a hyperbolic political argument between the Left and the Right in the United States, where we women have it cushier than anywhere else in the world.



Breast Cancer: A Cause Worth Fighting For

Breast cancer has touched each of us, somehow, in our lives. The first person I knew who directly impacted my life was my young, beautiful, vivacious neighbor. I’ll call her Pam. Pam was full of life, married with a young son. Her laughter would float over the fence daily until one day I realized she was absent more and more. When I saw her weeks later, looking pale, she told me that she had stage 4 breast cancer. I was shocked to hear I wouldn’t be seeing her for two months while she underwent a complicated procedure to try and save her life. Pam was going to be in isolation. She couldn’t have any visitors, including her son.

A couple of months later, Pam was standing out on her back patio, looking at the mountains and down toward the ocean. Her shapely figure was distorted from drugs and her breasts were gone. I was so happy to see her alive. The vivaciousness was hidden beneath a quietness of what I could only assume was Pam’s reassessment of life. At that point I was clueless about what she and others go through. Survivors spend years looking over their shoulders for recurrence, which imposes immense stress on themselves and their families.

One of my best friends, L.C. a single mom of two boys, with a great career, discovered she had breast cancer. This hit much closer to home than my neighbor because I love L.C. and couldn’t stop myself from worrying about the “what ifs.” L.C. suffered through chemo, surgery, recurrence, more surgeries, and she lives with the “what ifs.” However, L.C. doesn’t allow breast cancer or what she has been through to stop her from living her life to the fullest. She is a fighter, and could be the poster woman for breast cancer survivors everywhere.

At the same time L.C. was diagnosed, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Mom had a lumpectomy and opted for radiation. The radiation caused a hole in her heart. Mom was never the same after that. She had heart surgery and this caused complications. She had other health issues, but it was the breast cancer that was her undoing. My mom had a close friend that had breast cancer at the same time, and when her friend passed away, my mom’s fear got to her. It beat her.

My great friend J.R. had a beautiful daughter who was a young mother. I’ll call her Jenny. Jenny had breast cancer for several years and battled hard to stay alive for her children. Eventually the cancer took over and I saw how her death affected J.R. and her family. The loss and the heartbreak devastated everyone.

Why do I share these stories? Breast cancer is personal to me. Finding a cure is personal to me. Screenings and early detection are important to me. Supporting breast cancer research is important to me.

When the Susan G. Komen Foundation decided to cut funding to Planned Parenthood, I wasn’t surprised. After all, the most effective way to screen for breast cancer is a yearly mammogram, a service not provided by Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood only refers patients to local medical clinics after an application is filled out, reviewed, and approved for referral.

What do you think of when you hear Susan G. Komen for the Cure? Most think of Race for the Cure—right? What do you think of when you hear of Planned Parenthood? I think “abortion clinic.” I don’t think of it as a women’s health center. Do you?

Nancy Brinker, SGKF Founder stated, “We will never bow down to political pressure. The scurrilous accusations being hurled at this organization are profoundly hurtful to so many of us who put our heart, soul and lives into this organization. But more importantly, they are a dangerous distraction from the work that still remains to be done in ridding the world of breast cancer.” When I saw her make this announcement that SGKF would NOT bow to political pressure over the PP brouhaha, I stood up and applauded! Sadly, my applause was short lived, as the organization was attacked on all sides and not defended by many. They could not stand, or would not stand on their beliefs and position.

Where has the freedom gone in this country? Why isn’t a private organization or private citizen free to choose where grants or monies go? If SGKF is “racing for the cure,” why in the world wouldn’t they give EVERY dollar to finding that cure and diagnosing? Why waste a single dollar?

Planned Parenthood has funding from other sources and exercises an obligation to refer patients for mammograms. My concern is that grant money donated from SGKF to PP is being used for abortions, Plan B, and all other administrative costs OTHER than breast cancer screening. When I have given donations or you have giving donations in the past to SGKF, weren’t you thinking about Breast Cancer research? I was. I was thinking about “the cure”, not toward funding unrelated contraception and abortion therapies.

My disappointment with SGKF has led me to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.  I won’t be racing for a cure with SGKF, who have no backbone to stand up to their detractors. I will, however, stand tall with the BCRF in the future.

I care about women and eradicating breast cancer. It’s personal to me. There are other stories I haven’t told, and unfortunately, I fear there will be more to come. We all have them. This is a fight we must fight together, standing united in purpose to find a cure. Let’s keep politics out of it and crawl, walk, skip, ride bikes, skate boards, surf, run…but let’s get there. Families, friends, neighbors, and co-workers need us.



Where Do We Draw The Line?

How much government intervention is too much?  When is too much of a good thing not so good?

Michelle Obama has made it her mission to combat childhood obesity.  No one argues that eating healthy and regular exercise is good.  Few argue the merits of providing nutritionally better school lunches or offering daily physical education programs.  But where do we draw the line? (more…)



Take it from Mom: A Person’s Worth

What value does a person have?  And how do you place a value on him?  Is value based on job, money, influence, ability, intelligence, age?  Is a person only worth something if she meets a certain government criteria?

As your own kids grow your world changes.  You don’t always hear about the latest trends in child care, diapers, vaccinations or even schools.  But I didn’t realize how much things had changed until recently.

In 2008 Sarah Palin was turned into a household name.  She also brought with her a young son with Down’s Syndrome (Trisomy 21).  When I first saw him, like many, I just thought how happy he looks.  I really didn’t think much about it.  I watched as the Palins were met across the country by families with special needs kids.  Had they come to the Phoenix area we might have joined them.  An advocate, a voice for the handicapped, in the White House would surely be good. (more…)



Stop Pigeonholing Us

The other day, I tuned to Fox News Channel in time to see a women’s roundtable discussion. It was not a surprise that they were discussing “Women’s Health Issues”, which is code for a “Woman’s Right to Choose”. Doesn’t everything always boil down to this one point? However, I as a woman, take offense at being categorized into nothing more than a walking reproductive organ. And if you’ve had your reproductive organs removed – where does that leave you, anyway?

Telling the truth about abortion and whether it is a woman’s right to choose versus a woman’s health issue can be uncomfortable. Let’s be very honest here and say it is a woman’s lifestyle choice that leads a woman or a girl to the abortion clinic. Yes, there are those extremely rare cases in which a doctor has to make a choice between saving the life of the mother or the baby, but that doesn’t happen at the abortion clinic. Those circumstances do not happen at the local Planned Parenthood clinics, paid for by you, the taxpayer.

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