“Do you want [farming retailer] Tractor Supply to open stores or would you rather they take their capital and do what Obamacare and its 2,700 pages dictates – which is to open a lactation chamber at every single store that they have?”
– Staples co-founder (and big Romney $upporter) Tom Stemberg on how female employees are going to bring down free enterprise, capitalism and the glory of American business
My mom Shirley, who passed away in 1997, would be appalled at the state of politics today for many reasons (I can imagine her going off at the above Staples guy’s jackassery), but as a woman who believed in and used birth control, I’m sure she couldn’t have imagined the outlandish debates we’re having in 2012 about the ability for all women — at all income levels — to have access to contraception.
While on the surface it would seem that I don’t have a personal stake in the matter — I’m lesbian, never wanted kids, and as of November 2011, my uterus is (thankfully) outta there, but I actually do. As one of the 5% to 10% of women of reproductive age who suffer from Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), I was prescribed birth control pills in order to regulate my menstrual cycle. It’s one of several conditions that birth control pills are used to treat that have nothing to do with sex or procreation – something that escapes these fundies obsessed with sex, sin, forced procreation and slut shaming — it’s about women’s health and wellness.
But let’s go back to this job-killing ”lactation chamber” nonsense that Stemberg refers to for a moment. For all of the bleating about pro-family values, if a woman gets pregnant, apparently she better just drop out of the workforce if it were up to Stemberg (or perhaps only “non-breeding” women should apply for work at Staples). He’s objecting to maintaining an environment of health and wellness in his workplace — that’s the goal of the onerous (from his POV) Affordable Care Act, which, in this case means:
Employers are required to provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk.” Employers are also required to provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.”
…A space temporarily created or converted into a space for expressing milk or made available when needed by the nursing mother is sufficient provided that the space is shielded from view, and free from any intrusion from co-workers and the public.
No one is saying that businesses like Staples need to build an addition onto their buildings to create a spa-like environment for lactating moms. Hell, just appropriately clean out a broom closet with an outlet in it and place a table and decent chair in there. In an alternate universe, if men had to whack off to store sacred seed to take home for later use during the day, I don’t think this would be an issue.
It’s the same kind of insane womb-controlling, anti-woman, anti-sex thinking that has revved up the fringe of the GOP and brought it to the fore. It’s embodied by Rick Santorum, who seems to take pleasure in assailing birth control with as much glee as he has in gay-bashing from the GOP Clown Car.
I had a mini-Twitterbattle with this winger who insisted that Santorum wasn’t against birth control per se, he only personally opposes it but as policy he believes women can choose to use it, but that no federal funds should pay for it. That’s not a particularly convincing argument for sane policy, save communicating that the naked truth is these conservatives are engaging in a flat out war against poor women.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who won the non-binding Missouri primary as well as the Minnesota and Colorado caucuses on Tuesday, has also slammed Obama’s decision. But he’s also gone farther than that, suggesting that any form of birth control is immoral. “Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that’s okay, contraception is okay,” Santorum, a devout Catholic, said in October. “It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.” AsSalon‘s Irin Carmon has documented, Santorum thinks Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court decision that said states can not deny married couples access to contraception, should be overturned.
All I can gather from the exchange is that Santorum wants low-wealth women to churn out babies (because abortion is a non-starter) – we’ve seen that the GOP has no interest in the well-being of once the fetus is no longer “pre-born” – and Staples’ Tom Stemberg is Exhibit A of that attitude. Of course the alternate interpretation is that Santorum just wants women not to have sex at all unless she is married. As you saw in Little Ricky’s above quote, married couples in need of contraception are SOL in Santorum World. And if you have endometriosis or PCOS, you gals are SOL as well.
But Rick Santorum will not be elected President of the United States. The GOP hasn’t managed to topple Mittens quite yet, even though the Base of the GOP can’t stand him. Romney’s flip flopping on just about every issue doesn’t help, but he’s jumped into the common sense-free onslaught against birth control. Nick Baumann at Mother Jones:
Mitt Romney has slammed President Barack Obama for requiring most employers to offer insurance that provides birth control at no cost to women who want it, even though Romney himself maintained a similar rule as governor of Massachusetts.
…Even previously uncontroversial ideas about contraception are now being questioned. As I explained in this story about Obama’s birth-control policy, most of the administration’s recently-issued rule requiring companies to provide birth control to their employees has been widely accepted federal law for a decade. Requiring employers to provide birth control if they provide other preventative services was so uncontroversial that most employers—even Catholic universities like DePaul, in Chicago—simply changed their policies and offered birth control to avoid being sued. The percentage of employers offering birth control coverage tripled in a decade. The national controversy only erupted after Obama issued the new rule in January.
What is astounding is the political tone-deafness that these Republicans have — what votes are there to gain by beating up access to contraception when 98% of Americans use it? These personhood amendments failed miserably, most notably in Mississippi, which clearly isn’t some liberal bastion. People of all political persuasions (some with guilt, some without it) are having sex and are using birth control, period. Any attempt to take it away, to in essence tell people when they can and cannot procreate, is a death wish. But it continues.
Republicans who support abortion rights have warned their fellow GOPers that picking a fight over contraception could be a disaster. But even that hasn’t slowed down the onslaught—on Wednesday, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio), warned that he would soon push forward legislation that would allow employers to refuse to provide birth control to their employees. Boehner’s Senate counterpart, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), noted that several Republican senators have already introduced bills on the subject.
Notice it is the penis-possessing pols who are fixated on this. My assumption is that they are having sex — do they always want to procreate when they engage in it? Are they not concerned about the public policy health consequences based on ignorance and fear of reality-based information about sexual activity — the possibility of increased STDs (already skyrocketing in young people), HIV/AIDS transmission, and, of course, those unintended pregnancies. Reducing access to safe and effective contraception doesn’t stop any of those things because people will continue to have sex whether these hypocritical, privacy-invading government tools want it or not.
What is really behind this — are these guys just afraid of the real or imagined power of the va-jay-jay and boobies? Is it that juvenile at its core? I just can’t think of any logical political reason to be where we are in this debate. Thank goodness my mom isn’t around to see this madness. That’s why I applaud this move by State Senator Constance Johnson of Oklahoma City, who tacked on an audacious amendment to Senate Bill 1433, a personhood amendment tossed out there by her conservative colleagues. Jezebel:
The bill sought to define human life as beginning at the moment of conception, before it’s even implanted in the womb, and offers full legal protection to those tiny multicelled lumps. In the words of the bill, “the unborn child at every stage of development (has) all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of this state.”
Johnson submitted an amendment of her own to the bill, which would have added the language,
However, any action in which a man ejaculates or otherwise deposits semen anywhere but in a woman’s vagina shall be interpreted and construed as an action against an unborn child.
That means no masturbating. No wet dreaming. No blow jobs or facials or pulling out and coming on your lady’s stomach, dudes. No gay sex, unless a vagina’s around to catch the precious seed. No Boston cream pies.
Yes, this is what it has come down to. Get out of the uterus, people. Start creating jobs.