There’s been nothing more amusing in recent American politics than the effort of some Republicans to position themselves as champions of privacy. Only after the deeply unpopular revelations about the NSA became public, and during the Obama Administration, not before, did Republicans decide that privacy, something often mocked as not worthy of constitutional protection by the GOP, was an issue they believed in.
The truth, unfortunately, is that these calls for privacy reflect the privileged worldview of a party not interested in the rights of women and others they’re not concerned about.
First, that these “young guns” are in a party that doesn’t believe people should be able to enter into private relationships with the person they love or that racial profiling is immoral seems not to trouble these privacy champions, who are more concerned that they have the right to Snapchat than protecting liberties that are threatened every day in communities they just don’t care about. Want to defend the right to privacy in America? Instead of worrying about the NSA intercepting information about your next Young Guns meeting, real advocates of privacy should spend their energy fighting for privacy rights that are often literally questions of life and death.
Most troublingly, they repeatedly diminish the importance of privacy rights on the health of women.
Consider this. When I called out the latest manifestation of anonymous Republican bloggery for its failure to consider the rights of women, I received this response:
women’s (or do you prefer to spell it womyn?) rights isn’t really germane to our post. We aren’t really saying it isn’t important, but it is shoddy commentary that works to distract the reader and create a talking point where there doesn’t need to be.
It takes a stunning degree of self-important privilege to argue that privacy rights for women seeking access to healthcare is a “talking point” less deserving of protection than the right of a conservative to use his GPS to plan his next trip to a frat party. To discuss the rights of women is not a distraction, not a talking point, but critically important, as those rights are under siege in the United States today: mainstream Republican candidates for President questioned the Griswold decision that allowed women to access birth control; Republican Congressmen and legislators are working to make contraception methods illegal and criminalize miscarriages; Montana Republican legislators are pushing for laws to mandate invasive ultrasounds before women can seek abortions. Hell, they’re celebrating a Supreme Court decision that lets massive corporations decide what medication and health services a woman should be able to access with her insurance.
When the Supreme Court recently ruled that women seeking reproductive health services did not deserve a buffer zone to protect their privacy and even safety, where were the Republican champions of privacy? Silent—or affirming the Court’s deeply hypocritical decision.
These champions of privacy also belong to a party that wants to overturn the most critical Supreme Court decision that affirmed a right to privacy, Roe v. Wade. The Women’s National Law Center highlights some of the critical elements of privacy that the Roe v. Wade decision solidified in law and which could be threatened by its overturn:
- The Right to Obtain Contraception and the Right to Procreate
- The Right to Marry
- The Right to Maintain Family Relationships
- The Right to Make Decisions About How to Rear One’s Children
- The Right to Intimacy
You cannot credibly claim to care about privacy if you don’t support protecting a woman’s right to access legal health services and make decisions about her own body. You can’t.
Bro, it’s really upsetting that some communities might put up traffic cameras to stop speeding. I agree with you about that. But to argue that the core battle over privacy in the United States over the past forty years isn’t important or worthy of discussion is simply meant to camouflage the truth: the so-called champions of privacy in the Montana Republican Party don’t believe in autonomy for Montana’s women—and certainly don’t believe in their right to privacy.