Take Your Legislation Off Me

Speaking of the Republican assault on woman and marginalized men, the New York Times has a good piece, bluntly titled "Under Banner of Fiscal Restraint, Republicans Plan New Abortion Bills," highlighting the mendacity of the GOP's argument that their rash of anti-choice legislation is part of their "[focus] on creating a better environment for economic growth and job creation."

Relatedly, I saw this video of Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg (New Jersey) speaking out against the legislation:

[Transcript below.]

While I am so profoundly grateful for his voiced opposition, and sincerely thrilled by his emphasis on choice, the chivalrous paternalism makes my teeth grind.

Our women. Tell your daughters. Tell your wife. Don't go near my daughters!

It's a stark reminder that the public abortion debate (such as it is) happens almost exclusively between cis men.

Even though abortion legislation directly affects only people with uteri—primarily cis women and trans men—our Congress is only 17% female and appears to have no trans men in the other 83%, and thus is the discourse dominated by people who don't even include trans men in the discussion and who, in large measure, feel they have ownership over women's bodies.

On the one side are the men who use that assumption of ownership to try to control women, and on the other side are the men who use that assumption of ownership to try to protect them.

And in the midst of these men shouting back and forth about which is the right way to exert their ownership of women's bodies, there are vanishingly few women's voices being heard speaking on their own behalf, drowned out by the din of men who totally know what's best for women.

Starting with their silence, natch.

"We got this, ladies!"

Uh, you so don't.

I don't intend to pick on Senator Lautenberg, whose alliance I want and need, as if the Republicans aren't infinitely worse. They are. The thing is, I imagine that Senator Lautenberg might actually take my point; I imagine that he actually does genuinely care about women and thus might listen to what I have to say on this matter. Which is not something I imagine about his Republican colleagues.

Maybe next time, if they're willing, his daughters can join the Senator at the podium.

[My thanks also to Democratic Senators Patty Murray of Washington, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, and Al Franken of Minnesota, who appeared at the press conference with Senator Lautenberg.]
Narrator, offscreen: When expressing opposition to the GOP-proposed "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg said politicians should not interfere with his family's health and well-being.

Lautenberg, at podium: I'm experienced. I'm the proud father of three daughters, two more that my wife brought to our marriage, six granddaughters. My wife brought two more to the marriage. So we got a full house of healthy and well-being young women. I'm not even talking about the boys—they're terrific, but they don't get mentioned here now. [laughter] And I don't want politicians making decisions for them when it comes to their health and well-being.

We are deeply committed—as parents, as family, as Americans—to doing everything possible to guard the safety, the health, and the well-being of our sisters, our daughters, our women, and all of our friends.

I call on my colleagues in the House: Do as you wish with your family. Tell your daughters, tell your wife, you do that. That's the wonderful part about America. It's choice. It's choice. And there should be no force used here, but don't interfere with my family's well-being.

I won't attempt to voice my views on your family and let my family alone! Don't go near my daughters! If they want to make a choice, that's up to them—and it's with the advice of a doctor and loving parents and a loving family. And so we've got to strike down this outrageous assault on women's rights.

Narrator, offscreen: Lautenberg also says that efforts by House Republicans to limit access to abortion services remind him of a third-world country.

Lautenberg: If they had their way, the reproductive rights of American women would be tossed away and it sounds to me like a Third World country that's requiring women to wear head shawls to cover their faces even if they don't want to do it. This is America. It's not one of the third world countries that we see these tragic decisions foisted upon the women.

Narrator, offscreen: Nicholas Ballasy, CNS News dot com, Washington.

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