Actress Kathleen Turner on Conservative Male Politicians: 'I've Had Enough' (Guest Column)

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Kathleen Turner

The board member of People for the American Way praises "the Wendy Davises of the world" and urges readers to vote for the leaders who will fight for women's rights.

Oh, please.

I would have thought by now that I wouldn’t be reading news stories about a “who’s who of the next generation of Republican Party leaders” – all men – running around trying to enact a national ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

I had hoped I wouldn’t see another photo of a male governor, surrounded by smiling men, signing a bill forbidding counselors from even discussing abortion with rape survivors.

Or another, who had promised women in his state that he wouldn’t pass any more abortion restrictions, sneaking through an effort to close clinics in a motorcycle safety law.

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I would have thought that at least most members of the House of Representatives would have learned the basic facts of reproduction, for instance that rape can in fact result in pregnancy.

A question I have been longing to ask - Who the hell are you to tell me what I can do with my body?

Instead of making progress in cementing women’s rights to control our own bodies and our own futures, it feels these days like we’re sliding back down the long hill that we had to climb in the first place.

That’s why it was so exhilarating to watch Texas firebrand Wendy Davis literally stand up for 12 hours on behalf of women in her state…and so predictably deflating to have her filibuster stopped by men who literally refused to let her speak.

The Guttmacher Institute counts 43 new restrictions on reproductive rights in just the first six months of this year. A new report from People For the American Way outlines some of the most common ways right-wing politicians are trying to cut down on women’s access to reproductive care. They range from devious (laws like the new one in North Carolina that seek to close abortion clinics by regulating them out of existence) to just plain offensive (unenforceable bans on “race- and sex-selective” abortions).

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Thank the Lord for the Wendy Davises of the world. Because everywhere that right-wing male politicians are trying to roll back the rights of women, progressive women legislators are there to speak up against them. I think of Lucy Flores, a Nevada Assemblywoman, who had the courage to speak of her own experience with abortion when she argued on behalf of comprehensive sex education in schools – and was met with death threats. I think of the African-American women legislators in Florida who walked out of the statehouse when conservative lawmakers dared to compare black women who choose abortions to the Ku Klux Klan.

40 years after Roe v. Wade, we’re still fighting for the right to control our own bodies and to make our voices heard. But we sure won’t go down quietly. In last year’s presidential and Senate elections, women sent an unequivocal signal that we won’t be messed with. A new NARAL poll in Virginia finds that gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli’s regressive anti-woman policies are more than enough to turn women out to vote.

Let’s make sure that when we go to vote, we aren’t just voting against whatever backwards policies conservatives are pushing. Let’s vote for leaders like Wendy Davis and Lucy Flores, people who know what it’s like to be marginalized and won’t back down from fighting back.

Kathleen Turner serves as a Board Member of People for the American Way.