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Georgia ‘War on Women’ Rally a Flashback to the ’70s

Helen Reddy and over-the-top rhetoric against Republicans.

by
Mary Grabar

Bio

May 1, 2012 - 12:48 pm

Although Democrats have officially declared the War on Terror over, there is a War on Women, according to UniteWomen.org, who claim to be non-partisan.  According to them, it is being waged exclusively by Republicans, who seem to have replaced real terrorists.  That was the message ultimately of the War on Women rally on Saturday, April 28, in front of the Georgia State Capitol, part of a nationwide event.

Perhaps it was the hot Georgia sun and the singing of Helen Reddy’s 1971 feminist anthem ”I Am Woman” that led to overheated rhetoric.  What each speaker, like the leader of Black Women for Obama, various Georgia Democratic candidates, Georgia Democratic elected officials, a representative of MoveOn.org, and a “women’s political coach,” did was present a picture of life under Republican dominion in Georgia that rivaled life as presented in The Handmaid’s Tale.  Children would be carrying guns to school, welfare recipients would have to pay for their own drug testing, women would not be able to use state health insurance for abortions, and women more than 20 weeks in life-threatening pregnancies would have to face death and their doctors prison if they defied state’s orders to let their pregnant patients die, as will be the case when HB 954 goes into effect.

Some t-shirts even predicted public stonings as the next step.  Georgia Republicans, “irrational,” “mean-spirited,” and “insane,” were accused of waging war on women to create a wedge issue and for their own national political ambitions.  Speakers wanted to take them to the woodshed, abort their legislation, and, in the case of George W. Bush, “leave him to shrivel in the hot Texas sun” (quoting the late Texas Governor Ann Richards).

Following are some video highlights of the festivities, including the rallying Helen Reddy song (snippets only; we spared you).  Also included is my interview with Eva Voris Avery, media liaison for Unite Women (www.unitewomen.org). Did she read the abortion bill, HB 954, now on Governor Nathan Deal’s desk for signature?  We’ll let you decide.  And finally a recap of the event from me.

Here, in part 1, it’s almost like it’s 1971 again with the rousing rendition of Helen Reddy’s hit.  Many of the speakers commented that they remembered the song, but bemoaned the fact that Georgia Republicans have thrown women back into those dark ages, hence the ballad’s appropriateness to the occasion.

Then a sampling of outrages against women in terms of the inequities in health care and by “W,” according to an activist-speaker.

We’re nonpartisan but support pro-women candidates, says this activist, as she introduces J.C. Cunningham, who is running for Georgia House District seat 175 in Valdosta. He presented himself as a staunch supporter of women and is running against Amy Carter (a woman), a former Democrat, but described now as a “GOP Tea Party person.”  You can hear the boos. How far one falls from the privileged womyn position to the genderless “person” when she picks the GOP!

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State Representative Simone Bell (District 58) in this second video said that “in the deepest part of their dark souls” Republicans believe HB 954 is the right thing to do. She had to turn her back when Representative Terry England, in that very venerable Capitol building behind her, compared women to farm animals.  Did he really?  He’s no Cicero, but I think he was just trying to relate the wonders of life and birth by making the analogy to life on the farm.  The video of the speech is here on the site of Think Progress.

Next is Patricia Wilson-Smith, executive director of Black Women for Obama, whose purpose is to reelect Barack Obama because that is good for women. Conservatives, conversely, use women’s health and well-being as a “sick game of political football.”

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Women’s political coach Jan Selman, after suggesting that conservative gun owners be shot dead, claims she can barely “speak the name HB 954” which, according to her, eliminates a woman’s right to abortion after 20 weeks and reveals “how drunk with power. . . these boys are.”  Such legislation is due to “a severe case of collective testosterone poisoning,” and “the only known antidote is estrogen” (as in replacing the “boys” in office).

I interview Eva Voris Avery, media liaison for Unite Women, regarding HB 954 and Susan B. Anthony, one of the feminist foremothers cited by the speakers.  Avery calls HB 954 “outrageous.”  I ask if it would forbid abortions when the woman’s life is in danger.  She claims there are “no exceptions,” and that it criminalizes physicians who perform those abortions.  This is the bill here; see sections about the exceptions for averting “death” and “physical impairment.”

Regarding the oft-cited Susan B. Anthony, who opposed abortion, Avery claimed that her group didn’t oppose people who are pro-life—I guess only those who write pro-life legislation.

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Here is my commentary.  I try to recap all the wide-ranging Republican-sponsored bills that counted as part of the War on Women.  It was difficult, but I tried.  It was getting hot.  And Helen Reddy’s anthem kept pounding in my head.

Mary Grabar earned her Ph.D. in English from the University of Georgia and teaches in Atlanta. She is organizing the Resistance to the Re-Education of America at www.dissidentprof.com. Her writing can be found at www.marygrabar.com. Subscribe to dispatches here.
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