On March 19, Democratic Perspective continued its series on the GOP’s War on Women with Jo Kelleher, a long-time educator and current member of the Chino Valley Unified School District Governing Board.
She began by referring to a recent op-ed in the New York Times featuring former Governor Michael Dukakis who was one of the key negotiators on contraception between Planned Parenthood and the church 50 years ago. “I’m glad to hear from Governor Dukakis,” said Kelleher. “I thought we already won this battle 100 years ago.”
Reflecting on her own experiences, “In 1968, I was 25 and newly engaged. I remember to this day that I had to show that I was engaged to get contraceptives,” said Kelleher. “Women were humiliated to even go into the pharmacy to ask. But that’s nothing compared to the humiliation today.”
“It’s an issue of control,” she continued. “Men have been fascinated with women’s reproductive system and want to control it.”
When asked about HB2625, the contraception bill being considered in the Arizona legislature, she said, “I think they understand women will not tolerate a ban, so they’re doing this. As the ACLU says, it goes beyond the right to practice faith. These Republicans want to impose their religious beliefs on others. In a perverse way, I’m kind of glad this came up because it gets us back on our horses,” Kelleher continued. “The price of being a woman is eternal vigilance.”
Kelleher also pointed to another Republican bill, HB2800, which would virtually eliminate Planned Parenthood’s ability to help poor women such as students, single mothers, and young marrieds. “It will now be legal in Arizona and South Dakota for doctors to lie to women by telling them their fetus is healthy, even if it isn’t. The idea is to keep women from considering an abortion,” she said. “And the law will protect those doctors from lawsuits.”
She calls the attacks on Planned Parenthood misguided. “Of all the funds collected by Planned Parenthood, 35 percent is spent on contraception,” she said. “The majority of dollars are used for women’s health care. Only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s budget is spent on abortion, and there’s no comingling of funds. Margaret Sanger and others took risks to start Planned Parenthood. We need to stand up for it and all women’s rights,” Kelleher concluded.
To stop more of these assaults on women, Kelleher encourages women to get involved. “Women must participate in the emails circulating and get out and vote,” she said. “If there’s no Democratic candidate, look for moderate Republicans.”