Adolf Hitler had greater respect for the privacy of women than Republican members of the Arizona legislature.
At the height of World War II, Dr. Hans Lammers, legal advisor to Adolf Hitler, issued this legal directive at the enraged order of his Fuhrer:
“In many [criminal] cases it will undoubtedly be necessary to determine whether there were sexual relations between two people or not.
“But if this much is known, it is wholly superfluous to probe for closer particulars as to how and where such sexual intercourse took place. The cross-examination of women in particular should cease!
“Every time that cross-examining police officials or judges keep probing for details as to the how and where of the sexual intercourse, the Fuhrer has gained the very clear impression that this is done for the same reason that the same intimate questions are asked in the Confessional box
“The Fuhrer wants clear instructions issued for the abolition of unnecessary cross-examination.”1
By contrast, the Arizona legislature has introduced a bill that:
- Requires women who want their contraception covered by their health insurance to prove to their employers that they are taking it to treat medical conditions—not to prevent pregnancy; and
- Makes it legal for employers to fire a woman for using birth control to prevent pregnancy.
“The bill goes beyond guaranteeing a person’s rights to express and practice their faith,” Anjali Abraham, a lobbyist for the ACLU, told the Senate panel.
Instead, the legislation “lets employers prioritize their beliefs over the beliefs, the interests, the needs of their employees, in this case, particularly, female employees.”
Current Arizona law states that health plans covering other prescription medications must include contraception.
To override this requirement, the State House of Representatives passed House Bill 2625 in early March, 2012. The Senate Judiciary Committee endorsed it on March 12.
The full Senate has yet to vote on the legislation.
House Bill 2625 allows any employer to refuse to cover contraception that will be used “for contraceptive, abortifacient, abortion or sterilization purposes.”
If a woman wants the cost of her contraception covered, she must “submit a claim” to her employer providing evidence of a medical condition, such as endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome, that can be treated with birth control.
Even more invasive, the law allows Arizona employers to fire a woman upon finding out that she took birth control to prevent pregnancy.
In short: While Adolf Hitler was outraged at public officials taking what he considered a prurient interest in a woman’s sex life, Arizona’s Republican legislators feel no such restraint.
“I believe we live in America,” said Majority Whip Debbie Lesko (R-Glendale), who sponsored the bill.
“We don’t live in the Soviet Union. So, government should not be telling the organizations or mom-and-pop employers to do something against their moral beliefs.”
In short, employers should be allowed to have Ayatollah-like power over the private sex-lives of their female employees.
The United States is not the Soviet Union. But if this bill is enacted, Arizona will bear a striking resemblance to Iran.
This latest Republican effort should come as no surprise to anyone–least of all women.
Throughout 2011, Republicans attacked women’s reproductive rights–not simply access to legal abortion but even birth control.
The sheer number of laws proposed or enacted by Republicans at state and Federal levels–-to control the sex lives of American women–-is staggering.
At the state level:
- State legislators introduced more than 1,100 anti-abortion provisions and had enacted 135 of them by year’s end.
- Seven states either fully defunded or tried to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides basic health care, contraception, breast cancer and STD screenings to millions of low-income women each year.
At the Congressional level:
- Republicans used abortion and Planned Parenthood funding to extort Democratic concessions during budget negotiations and threatened to shut down the government.
- Republicans introduced mandatory ultrasound bills.
- Republicans tried to narrow the definition of rape to include only “forcible rape.” Under this change, a woman who was coerced, drugged or otherwise incapacitated by a rapist, would not be legally counted as a rape victim.
- Republicans barred the District of Columbia from using its own locally raised funds to help low-income women pay for abortions.
During the first two months of 2012:
- Virginia Republicans introduced a bill whose original language required women to undergo an invasive trans-vaginal ultrasound procedure 24 hours before having an abortion.
- A modified version of the bill–requiring women to receive trans-abdominal ultrasounds, was signed into law instead.
- With the connivance of House Republicans, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the nation’s largest breast cancer charity, tried to pull cancer-screening grants from Planned Parenthood because some of its clinics provide abortions.
- The House Oversight Committee convened a hearing to deny contraceptive insurance coverage under the guise of “protecting religious liberty.” The Democrats’ one female witness, Sandra Fluke, was forbidden to speak at it.
- Right-wing broadcaster Rush Limbaugh and Foster Friess–Rick Santorum’s chief financial backer–publicly equated birth control use to sexual promiscuity.
- During his 2012 campaign for the Presidency, Rick Santorum pledged that, if elected, he would wage an all-out war on birth control: “It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”
And yet Republicans like Rush Limbaugh insist they are not waging a “war on women.”
The situation calls to mind a famous joke: A wife unexpectedly returns home and catches her husband in bed with another woman. Before she can speak, her husband demands: “Now, what are you going to believe–your own eyes, or what I’m telling you?”
- David Irving, The War Path, Viking Press, 1978.