STOCKBRIDGE

I owe Sarah Silverman a huge debt of gratitude. I had been wringing my hands and shaking my head over the news that women's rights and health care are going to be at the center of upcoming political debates and elections. To tell the truth, I was surprised that women's reproductive rights are an "unexpectedly animating issue in the 2014 midterm elections" according to a New York Times article published a couple of weeks ago. As California Democrat, Barbara Lee said, "Here we go again. It's another battle in the war on women."

Not only are states approving more and more abortion restrictions, last week, the House of Representatives passed the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act that makes it even more difficult for women to get the health care they need. The bill denies tax credits to small businesses that offer health care plans that include abortion coverage, and uses language that excludes statutory rape victims and others from obtaining abortions through Medicaid. It also eliminates privately funded insurance coverage for abortion in health-care exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act. This legislation, which codifies the Hyde Amendment which already restricts federal funding and must be renewed each year, "was moved through the House almost exclusively with the votes of Republican men," the Times reported.

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Even though the bill's restrictions are extreme, and it has no chance of passing in the Senate, "in forging ahead...to approve the bill, the House will lend it undeserved legitimacy, encouraging more states to pass copycat legislation." Several states are putting "personhood" amendments on ballots and wrongly upholding pro-life measures as pro-taxpayer.

Republicans rolling out anti-choice propaganda again, this time to attract voters in their mid-term races, are like a bad joke -- maybe that's why it took a comedian to respond and motivate us to join a movement that helps spread the word that women's reproductive rights belong to women and not to Republican men.

In a Youtube video that went viral a couple of weeks ago, Jesus visits Silverman and tells her to spread his message about abortion. She protests that people won't take her seriously, but he tells her that if people think she's kidding, it will be her test. He goes on to say that he is upset by "people who use my name for tolerance and oppression."

In the video, Jesus believes, "Fertilized eggs aren't people. People are people. But," he reminds Silverman, "people who believe fertilized eggs are people are people, too. You have to love them. You're not better than them." The video is serious and funny, honest and informative.

At the end, Silverman announces that on Sept. 27 she will be in Concord, New Hampshire, her home state, as part of Lady Parts Justice Leaguers' "V to Shining V," an event that encourages people "to return to their home states to stand up with their mothers, sisters and friends, to show them they care, and will always defend the women who made them who they are." The Lady Parts Justice League is part of the Creative Majority, "a grassroots organization run by and for creative artists, musicians and writers fighting for a better America -- whether it is through developing new art programs in our local schools, defending women's issues or weighing in on
elections"

Like most people I know, I wish there were no need for abortions -- but as long as women are raped, families cannot afford food and housing, as long as medical problems arise during pregnancies, abortion is necessary. Regulating women's bodies and health rights, interfering in and restricting their health decisions is simply wrong.

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As an article in the New Republic pointed out, if politicians think "restricting abortion without banning it is some kind of ‘moderate' compromise, the rise in black-market abortions should be a firm reminder that the basic human right to control your body is not a compromise issue. The result of abortion restrictions is not, contrary to anti-choice propaganda, more glowing mothers who were stalled into changing their minds and having the baby. It simply means more desperate women turning to iffy websites peddling abortion-inducing drugs," and more women who will "turn to that option later in their pregnancies after exhausting their lean options at acquiring legal abortions under medical supervision."

There are many ways to show our commitment to women and fight for the issues that matter. One way is to go to your state capital on Sept. 27 as part of the "V to Shining V Campaign" and speak up for women's rights.

Michelle Gillett is a regular Eagle contributor.