RENEE ORDWAY

Women show strength in contraception debate

Posted March 02, 2012, at 7:49 p.m.
Renee Ordway
Renee Ordway

It’s a good time to be a woman in the United States.

I’m quite convinced of that despite the debacle that is going on all around us.

Look at what we did just one month ago when the Komen Foundation announced its plans to end funding to Planned Parenthood for mammograms.

Most of us lit up like firecrackers, gathered together and within days those behind that disastrous decision had resigned and the funding was reinstated.

And truthfully, we didn’t even have to throw a real punch — our reaction was so swift and determined that the powers-that-be saw the error of their ways almost immediately and didn’t even put up a fight.

Girls fight a bit differently than boys.

And while girls and women may on occasion have tendencies to backstab and cat-fight to a degree, there is nothing that will bring us together more quickly than a common enemy.

Enter Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, his best bud and campaign sugar daddy, Foster Friess, popular conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, and the conservative right’s attack on women’s reproductive health.

Friess, you may recall, during an interview with CBS’ Leslie Stahl of all people, said this: “This contraception thing — my gosh, it’s so inexpensive. You know back in my days they used a Bayer aspirin for contraception. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.”

Then, of course, this week Limbaugh not only called a Georgetown University law student a slut and a prostitute because she is an advocate of mandatory employer health coverage of contraception, he urged her to videotape herself having “all of this sex” and post it online publicly.

All I can say, ladies, is that as we continue to face this ridiculous stir-up in the halls of Congress, our best weapon in the battle most likely will be men behaving badly and pompously. And I predict that once again we will hardly have to throw a punch — because so many of them are so good at it and so damn anxious to get a shot at it that they trip over each other on the way to the microphone.

And while these guys keep at it, look who we have on the other side of the spectrum.

First there is that Georgetown University law student, who when asked about Limbaugh’s comments, mustered great grace and dignity and said, “All he needs to know is that it was really inappropriate. This is outside the bounds of civil discourse.”

Whether I agree with every detail of her pitch regarding employer-paid contraception or not, she’s a good one to have on the side of the women’s reproductive rights issue.

Then of course we have U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, who thankfully voted against the Blunt amendment, which would have expanded the “conscience” exemptions to President Obama’s new birth control coverage rule.

The amendment would have allowed not only religious groups but any employer to refuse to provide not only birth control coverage but any health services at all that are required under the law.

As is not uncommon with Maine’s longtime and now outgoing senator, she broke from her party to vote her own conscience.

Did you know that Snowe and Maine’s other U.S. senator, Susan Collins, don’t really like each other all that much? They served together all those years in Washington and it wasn’t until last May that a special report in The Washington Post disclosed that well-kept secret.

I wasn’t necessarily happy to learn that, but in a way it made me quite proud. Those of us outside their inner circles never knew it. Why? Because they still managed to work together and communicate with one another in a civil and professional manner.

They are ladies — hardworking, dedicated, smart, kind, grown-up ladies.

It’s terribly sad to see Snowe leaving, especially as discouraged as she clearly is. But she deserves to go. She did a good job for a long time. She did her duty well.

We can only hope that whoever we choose to replace her will have the same dignity, work ethic and maturity that she had.

Whether it’s a lady or not.

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