Denny Hastert, former speaker of the United States House of Representatives, gets 15 months, as it was announced on Friday. He sexually harassed his former high school wrestlers, when he coached them, that is, before he became speaker of the US House of Representatives. Let me refresh your memory of how he became speaker.
If you recall, at great taxpayer expense, and under the guise of lying to the grand jury, Bill Clinton was impeached for philandering with an intern. And, lo and behold, we discovered that his chief "'impeacher," Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, allegedly was not only having an affair but discussed divorce while his wife was in her hospital bed with cancer. Now, I don't believe the Oval Office is an appropriate place for a love affair, but ditching your sick wife when she's down is also breaking one's marriage vows. The midterm Republican losses led to Speaker Gingrich's resignation. The Republicans were all set to vote in Representative Robert L. Livingston as Speaker, only to discover that he too had had extramarital affairs.
All this happened years after Republican Representative Henry Hyde, author of the Hyde Amendment, which prevents the use of certain federal funds to pay for abortion unless the pregnancy arises from incest, rape, or to save the life of the mother, admitted he had had a "youthful indiscretion." At age forty? It seems immoral and hardly a private sexual act to allow himself a "pass" while forcing women to bear children conceived from their "indiscretions."
The Republicans differentiated these dalliances from those of Clinton's by saying theirs were private. Of course, they had made Clinton's public. I am not defending Clinton here. I am merely saying that the accusers were making a distinction with not much of a difference. Whereas when they vote against birth control, sex education and intervene in medical decisions, they are making decisions which affect the lives of real people, real women, and real families.
In my fantasy, the Republicans knocked on every door until they came to Representative Denny Hastert. He seemed clean, had children, and would certainly not be mistaken for a super stud by glossy magazine standards. Thus, Denny Hastert became Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. Only to lose his job. He had sexual misadventures, too. In his case, it was with men, but we see the guiding principle. Men "play" and want others to pay. Legislators pose as paragons of virtue pass laws which limit the rights of women, gays, bisexuals and transgender persons.
All of this is terrific fodder for a sitcom, but the salacious interest pales when we consider the hypocrisy and downright danger of men hiding their own sexual exploits by proudly and self-righteously passing laws which limit women's ability to deal with the results of their own sexual behavior. This is double sexual standard at its worst.Senators and Representatives have been legislating how women should use their bodies long enough. Too many of them apply a moral code to others when they flaunt it themselves. Now the Donald, not known for his stellar sexual abstinence, proposes to punish women who might not want to bear the result of man's sexual exploits. American law requires us to be judged by a jury of our peers. Yet, reproductive restrictions on women are made by those who never have, nor ever will bear children.
Talk about death panels; that is what these legislatures are. They tell a woman whose life is at risk from a pregnancy that she and her doctor cannot make the decision of whether she should terminate this pregnancy. I have known women who have had to carry a dead fetus at risk of infection to themselves and at a great psychological toll because the law refused to allow them to have a legal termination. I know a woman who responsibly used birth control but the IUD stuck in her uterine wall. The risk: overwhelming infection and death. You would think as a mother of three she had the right to make that decision.
I knew a woman, the mother of an elementary school classmate who died in a backroom abortion prior to Roe v. Wade. I don't know why this woman chose to abort, I know only that a small girl, a classmate, no longer had a mother. Her mother was killed by the lack of legal abortion. Who am I or you to judge if her mother had a "good enough" reason to abort. None of us walked a mile in her shoes, none of us know what she felt capable of or not.
Women have abortions for many reasons, some of them we may think are good and others if we sit in judgement we may think are less good, but none of us knows what that woman's life is really like. Forcing women to backrooms and to clothes hangers, doesn't save lives it takes them.
Denny gets a few months in jail for being a serial child molester, while women bear the consequences on the bodies of women for life.