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Sharon Phillips: Women’s rights under attack

Posted: September 23, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 23, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Recently a friend toured the United Nations in New York City and told me about her visit. Something amazing happened on that tour that has impacted my entire thinking processes, and I’d like to share how my world has changed since speaking with her.

On the tour, the guide explained how the efforts of the United Nations added birth control for women to their arsenal. They have found the single most effective way of getting a country out of poverty and into industry is to educate women about birth control.

Once women can control the number of children they birth, their world and the economy of their countries begins to change. Women get jobs, get educated and educate their children more diligently than any government program ever could.

Birth control is the key to helping Third World countries out of poverty and ignorance. Since overpopulation is the single most important problem the world faces, it appears that Third World countries feel the consequences of overpopulation so directly that they are willing to invest to solve this worldwide problem.

So what? Certainly the importance of birth control around the world isn’t new or even innovative unless one compares it to what is happening today in Republican politics in the United States.

Republican-held state governments across our country are trying to abolish abortion rights, destroy Planned Parenthood, make contraceptives costly alternatives for women, and tell us we really shouldn’t mind that we earn 78 percent of what men earn for the same job.

It appears that what they want is to go backward in time to when women were held in their places with too many children and too little education. They want women to accept fewer rights and lower wages, and the way to accomplish this is to pass laws that diminish women’s rights.

The Republican Party says there is no war on women. That must mean they believe men inherently deserve more opportunities and women deserve less equality in the bedroom and in the workplace.

It appears Republicans believe that men know more about what women need than women themselves. In spring hearings in Washington, D.C., Republicans didn’t call a single woman to testify on the subject of contraception in the Affordable Care Act. Democrats had to insist that women be included in the discussion!

Sometimes we think that our political party defines who we are and what we think. We also know that we can accept all or some of the party doctrine. Catholic women are a good example of partial acceptance of doctrine.

The Catholic Church says birth control is a sin. However, one only need sit in a Mass at any Catholic Church in the country and count the number of one- and two-children families.

Like the Catholic Church, the Republican Party has drawn a line in the sand. It’s up to women to go beyond that line in the area of women’s rights and do what is truly right over the latest stance of a political party to gain favor with some of its ultra-conservative constituents.

It is not a political act to vote for women’s rights ... it is a heroic act that goes beyond political affiliation. Here’s the good news: Republicans haven’t passed any laws yet that keep women from voting. When women go into the voting booth, they go in by themselves ... not with their partners, husbands, bosses or ministers. Once inside that booth, women can vote however they want.

Isn’t it amazing how one conversation about a tour of the United Nations could help me see what I couldn’t articulate until now, I’m a woman living in America? I’m proud to be a female and American, and I think we deserve respect and consideration for the part we play in making our country the beacon of hope it represents to the world. Please stand up for women’s rights in November.

Sharon Phillips is a Stevenson Ranch resident.


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