A year or so ago I read a book by Molly Ivins and Lou DuBose entitled,
"The Shrub: The Short but Happy Life of George W. Bush." I laughed all
the way through it No way this Texas oil man who couldn't even speak
the English language would ever want to be President, or actually run,
or -- perish the thought -- get elected. But last week I re-read the
book and it wasn't funny at all. "The Shrub" is now President of the
Ivins says, "You have to work hard to dislike the man, but from the
record it appears that he doesn't know much, doesn't do much and doesn't
care much about governing."
But either he has had a personality transplant, or we are being governed
by committee, because in his first 100 days in office Dubya (Ivins'
word) has managed to undo most of the legal gains woman have made in the
past decade. The name for his policy is not compassionate conservatism,
but compassion for conservatives.
On his first day in the Oval Office, which was the anniversary of the
Supreme Court's landmark 1973 decision in Roe vs. Wade, Dubya
re-instated the "Global Gag Rule." He confirmed his stand on the
abortion issue by issuing an executive order to bar federal funding for
international family planning groups that support abortion rights. "It
is my conviction that taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for
abortions … abortion, either here or abroad," he said in issuing the
order. Current law already ensures that no U. S. taxpayers' funds pay
for abortions overseas. The family planning assistance funds are just
that -- help for family planning in desperately poor nations. By
eliminating the funds we are denying to women around the world who have
no other way to get it, access to birth control information and
contraceptives. These restrictions will be detrimental to U. S.
foreign policy objectives, to family planning programs in developing
countries, and to women's health world wide.
Next is a sneaky one hidden in the 1,300 page appendix to Bush's new
budget. In one small paragraph, the president proposed dropping
contraception coverage for health insurance programs for federal
employees. Presently the law requires all 250 health plans serving
federal employees to offer to pay for five types of birth control
approved by the F. D. A.: the pill, Norplant, Depo-Provera, the
intrauterine device and the diaphragm. Rep Nita Lowey (D. N. Y..),
author of the 1998 proposal granting contraceptive benefits to women in
federal health plans said, "There's no compassion in this decision.
It's calculated to please a small but key group of supporters who helped
elect George W. Bush."
The Bush administration has already begun an attack RU 486, or
mifepristone. RU 486 has been used as a method of early abortion by
millions of women world wide. It has been available in France since
1988 and is currently available in most of western Europe. It is also a
possible treatment for ovarian cancer and a myriad of other diseases and
conditions that affect women. The F. D. A.'s approval of the drug was
based on extensive scientific evidence and was approved for use in our
less than enlightened country in 2000. Feminist Majority President
Eleanor Smeal said, "Congress should be calling for increased funds to
research the drug's cancer fighting properties rather than fighting this
constant battle to limit women's reproductive health care options."
Just last week the House in its infinite wisdom declared when life
begins -- by law, not by religious belief. They approved a bill which
would establish criminal penalties for harming a human fetus during the
commission of a federal offense against a woman. Representative
Carolyn B. Maloney, (D.
N. Y.) said the bill's definition of a fetus is "so broad it would cover
three cells. Make no mistake. This is an attack on a woman's right to
choose, and we know clearly and squarely where the Bush administration
The next four years are going to be hard, terribly dangerous ones for
women. Roe vs. Wade is under strong attack, birth control is
threatened, research for women's health is considered unimportant. "The
Shrub" is President of the United States.