No More Sex For You, Mr. Trump!

It’s time for a modern day Lysistrata. The Republican war on women may rage on endlessly unless and until women unleash the power of denial. Lysistrata is a great Greek comedy in which women seek to end war by withholding intimacy from their soldier men. A sex strike, if you will . . . or perhaps better said, “if you won’t.”

The most public – and absurd – salvo in the modern day war was Donald Trump’s declaration that women should be punished for having an abortion, when and if the procedure is outlawed in America. Trump later tried to walk that absurdity back, but recordings don’t lie. Undaunted, as only a genuine psychopath can be, he then accused MSNBC of editing the recorded program.

Outrage flew at Trump from all directions, except from the women in his life, who apparently sold their souls long ago. Even Ted Cruz thought Trump went too far. When a man who appears to support the death penalty for physicians performing abortions thinks you’ve gone too far, you’ve really outdone yourself. Trump is in a class(less) by himself.

But this political circus is of little consequence when compared to the persistent Christian legal assault on women’s rights. The recent Supreme Court case, Zubik v. Burwell, seeks to extend the notion of religious “freedom” to the borders of holy anarchy. The case is essentially an effort to expand the notion of religious “burden” as declared in the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The plaintiffs claim that by opting out of providing contraceptive coverage, as required by the Affordable Care Act, religious organizations are complicit in committing a sin. This seems rather like claiming that you lose your virginity by merely having to say “no.”

“Restoration” clearly implies that something has been lost. Precisely what was “lost” has never been declared. A more accurate name for the legislation might be the Religious Imposition on Everybody Else Act. The pious plaintiffs in the case seek to redefine a religious burden as anything a religious person might claim as a burden, unless of course they don’t like your particular religion (or lack of religion), in which case you are out of luck.

A similar legal extension of piety is found in the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case. Here, the State of Texas pretended to make women’s lives better by making abortion far more difficult to access. The arguments in the Supreme Court could have been on Saturday Night Live. The lawyers for the State of Texas had to pretend that the Texas law really – really, really, cross my heart and hope to die – wasn’t about pro-life forces who are trying the same dishonest trick in many states across America.

For decades – no, centuries – er, millennia, men have sought to control women and their bodies. The vast majority of right-to-life leaders are men. All of the male, conservative Supreme Court justices cavalierly moralize about women’s bodies and reproductive choices. Why not? These matters have no impact on them – or other men. Women bear children, take the lioness’s share of birth control responsibility, do the lioness’s share of childcare, and deal with all the ramifications of unwanted pregnancy. But men, particularly pious men, oppose both the ability to prevent a pregnancy and the right to deal with it thereafter. And let us not forget that far too often single mothers not only have to bear and care for their babies, they have to do it on wages that are only 79% of the pay received by the men who abandoned them.

3 in 10 women have abortions at some point in their lives. If I were an investigative reporter I’d be scouring the landscape to see how many abortions have occurred among the women in the lives of the hypocritical men in the right to life movement. I would bet the ranch that the serial misogynist Trump has left more than one woman to deal with an unwanted pregnancy. I would place a similar wager about the women in the lives of Cruz, Kasich and all the other sanctimonious candidates who fell off the clown bus this year.

This entire “war” is designed to impose a Christian morality on all citizens. Non-religious employees of quasi-religious organizations have no rights, according to the religious soldiers. If religious conservatives had their way, a Christian morality about abortion would be imposed on all women. Justice Sonia Sotomayor offered the gem of the year in the Zubik v. Burwell case. “Catholic women don’t use birth control anyway (wink, wink), so they would never opt-in to the services provided by a third party once the organization opts out. So what is this case about anyway?” She knows that the case is not about religious freedom at all. It’s part of an insidious rightwing, religious crusade.

Despite the fact that the vast majority of women, including Catholic women (86% of Catholic women, according to several surveys), use birth control, the zealous male protectors of female morality preach abstinence as the only moral way to limit reproduction. How ’bout we take them at their word?

To all the women whose moralizing husbands would deny reproductive rights to others, try this: “Not tonight, honey. I’ve got a headache, and you’re causing it.” Maybe after a few months they’ll see things a little differently. After all, abstinence makes the heart grow fonder.

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