TIME politics

John Kerry Pushes Iran Nuclear Deal With Gulf States

John Kerry Qatar
Brendan Smialowski—Pool/Reuters U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrives to meet with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani before their meeting at the Diwan Palace in Doha, Qatar on Aug. 3, 2015.

Gulf Arab nations fear Iran's increasing assertiveness in the region

DOHA, Qatar — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is bringing the Obama administration’s case for the Iran nuclear deal to wary Arab officials in Qatar.

Kerry was meeting on Monday with the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the six-member bloc of Sunni-ruled Gulf Arab nations that fear Shiite Iran’s increasing assertiveness in the region and the implications of the agreement. In addition to Iran, the ongoing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen were expected to be high on the agenda.

His talks with top diplomats from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates follow a May meeting that President Barack Obama hosted for Arab leaders at Camp David. At that meeting, Obama promised them enhanced security cooperation and expedited defense sales to guard against a potential Iranian threat.

Kerry has acknowledged concerns about Iran’s behavior in the Middle East but says it would be easier to deal with if Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon. He said the agreement struck by world powers with Iran in Vienna last month is the best way to do that.

“Iran is engaged in destabilizing activities in the region — and that is why it is so important to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program remains wholly peaceful,” he said on Sunday in Egypt before flying to Qatar. “There can be absolutely no question that the Vienna plan, if implemented, will make Egypt and all the countries of this region safer than they otherwise would be.”

Kerry’s visit to Qatar follows one last week by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who also stopped in Kuwait and Iraq to present Tehran’s side of the nuclear deal.

In Doha on Monday, Kerry will also meet separately with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir to discuss Syria. The three-way meeting is unusual, particularly as Russia has been a prime backer of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Saudi Arabia and the United States have been calling for his removal.

TIME politics

Sens. Ernst, Paul, and Lankford: Stop the Inhumane Treatment of Human Life

Senators Joni Ernst, Rand Paul and James Lankford represent Iowa, Kentucky and Oklahoma, respectively.

Taxpayers should not be asked to contribute to Planned Parenthood

“Another boy!” Typically, we think of these words from a sonographer or an expectant mother during an 18-20 week checkup, or the voice of parents announcing the birth of their son to the world.

This week though, we heard these words come from the mouth of a Planned Parenthood employee as they sifted through a dish of body parts from an aborted baby boy as they worked to isolate organs for sale.

Planned Parenthood is the nation’s single largest provider of abortion services. Through a series of videos that have been recently released about Planned Parenthood’s callous harvesting operation, the realities of abortion have become public. Polite company does not want to discuss what really happens to children in an abortion clinic. For those brave enough to watch the videos, they have been horrified by the utter lack of compassion shown for these women and their babies. Even Hillary Clinton rightly acknowledged last week that the images are “disturbing.”

Tiny arms, legs and organs are placed in dishes and picked apart with tweezers. Unborn babies are seen as valuable – not as a new life, but as the source of parts eligible for sale. One employee haggles over prices and another discusses the benefit of selling individual organs rather than whole children because, “Per item works better so we can see how much we can get out of it.”

The videos also depict sterile discussions with Planned Parenthood employees raising questions about whether they may be altering the method of an abortion to increase the chances of keeping baby organs intact to make them more appealing to buyers. Intact, because human organs have value.

As one Planned Parenthood employee said, “You try to intentionally go above and below the thorax, so that, you know, we’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m going to basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”

If they are human organs outside of the womb, they had to be human inside the womb. It is disingenuous for Planned Parenthood to say in one moment that it is just fetal tissue, but in another moment acknowledge that it is human baby organs to be harvested and sold for medical research. Children in the womb are still children.

The Senate will soon vote on a bill to redirect federal taxpayer money from Planned Parenthood to women’s health care at places like community health centers and hospitals, which have almost fifteen times more facilities nationwide and provide more comprehensive health services. Our focus remains on ensuring that taxpayer dollars are utilized to protect federal funding for health services for women, which may include diagnostic laboratory and radiology services, well-child care, contraceptives, prenatal and postnatal care, immunizations, cervical and breast cancer screenings and more.

These videos are hard for anyone to defend, and they pull back the curtain on Planned Parenthood’s callous actions that strike the moral fabric of our society. The American people have just cause to be horrified by the actions of Planned Parenthood. Protecting the most vulnerable in our society is an important measure of any society.

We disagree on many issues as a nation. However, there comes a point at which we must determine who we are as a people. We should not watch as unborn children of our nation are being callously rummaged for parts and sold at a price, nor should taxpayers be asked to contribute to Planned Parenthood, which has illustrated a stark lack of compassion for children. Surely we can all agree that this practice is not reflective of American values.

Senators Joni Ernst, Rand Paul and James Lankford represent Iowa, Kentucky and Oklahoma, respectively, and are the authors of S.1881, a bill to redirect federal funding from Planned Parenthood to community health centers. The U.S. Senate will vote on the bill Monday afternoon.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME politics

Gov. John Kasich: Let the States Fix Our Crumbling Highways—Instead of Washington

Infinity Loop
Getty Images

John R. Kasich is the Governor of Ohio.

It’s time to get D.C. out of the highway business so America can get moving again

In a country that grows things and makes things we must be able to move things — quickly, cheaply, and safely — if we want to have the jobs-friendly climate America needs. Unfortunately, our country’s infrastructure, from the northeast rail corridor to our interstates to our local roads, is starting to crumble beneath our wheels and Washington seems powerless to help.

Only Washington, ever immune to irony, would let its love of gridlock grind even the highway bill to a halt. Unable to reach agreement, Congress just kicked the can down the road for three months in hopes that lightning will strike and people will suddenly start working together. Even if Congress could reach a deal, does it make sense to keep this broken system going?

Some states are so desperate that they are taking matters into their own hands, but they lack the authority to make real progress. Six states recently increased their gas taxes to try to fund their own needs, but that only puts more pressure on consumers and job creators at a time when the economy is still trying to get going. These tax hikes wouldn’t be necessary if Washington made some common-sense reforms, like take itself out of the picture.

Instead of sending our gas tax money to Washington, where federal bureaucrats skim some off the top to pay for their own agencies, Congress should dramatically cut the 18.4 cents-per-gallon federal gas tax to just a few cents per gallon — just enough to pay for interstate connectivity and other safety concerns. States would then be free to set their own gas tax rates, aligned to their own needs as identified by their own residents, communities, and leaders.

Consumers and job creators likely would see lower prices at the pump, states likely would have more resources and freedom to meet their own needs, and the only loser would be the federal transportation bureaucracy. So be it. The entire system would move with less delay and cost because Congress would have little role at all. Washington gridlock wouldn’t be able to slow things down or go back to its pork-barreling ways.

More than a decade ago, as chairman of the U.S. House Budget Committee, I proposed a plan like this and, not surprisingly, it was soundly defeated. It was a good idea then and is a good idea now. The need for these kinds of changes is long overdue, however, and I think the time is right to act.

When I became governor in 2011, Ohio faced a $1.6 billion highway budget deficit and many key projects were facing delays of up to 20 years. With no help in sight from Washington, we took control of our own destiny and leveraged our Turnpike to issue bonds that will inject up to $3 billion into our roads — without raising the gas tax. As a result we jumpstarted key projects, accelerating their completion and started new ones that once would have never seen the light of day. Not every state has these kinds of assets, however, and Washington should get out of the way and set them free to solve their problems with their own gas tax money.

Even with our innovations, huge needs still remain — like a multi-billion-dollar replacement bridge across the Ohio River between Cincinnati and northern Kentucky. Critical projects like this linger in every state and must be met.

Washington doesn’t always know what is best and when it comes to infrastructure, where the money and work is all done at the state and local level anyway, it only slows things down and runs up the costs by adding an extra layer of interference. It’s time to get Washington out of the highway business so America can get moving again.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Donald Trump

Here’s What Mark Cuban Has to Say About Running For VP on a Donald Trump Ticket

2014 Billboard Music Awards - Red Carpet
Bryan Steffy/Billboard Awards 20—Getty Images for DCP Mark Cuban

Cuban has praised Trump’s bid for the White House

If there’s one thing that Donald Trump’s campaign has been lacking, it’s the presence of a conceited and opinionated billionaire.

Fear not, Trump supporters! Dallas Mavericks owner and noted Mark-Cuban enthusiast, Mark Cuban, told Business Insider on Thursday that he would, “consider” running as Donald Trump’s vice-presidential running mate, if he were asked. However, Cuban went on to say that ultimately “probably not” take the position if offered because he’s “not cut out for politics . . . at least [the] way they are now.”

Cuban has recently praised the Trump campaign as “probably the best thing to happen to politics in a long long time” because Trump has shown that an unpolished businessman with an unconventional resume can run for office while speaking honestly about issues that matter to him. Writes Cuban:

Up until Trump announced his candidacy the conventional wisdom was that you had to be a professional politician in order to run . . . You had to have a background that was politically scrubbed. In other words, smart people who didn’t live perfect lives could never run. Smart people who didn’t want their families put under the media spotlight wouldn’t run.

TIME politics

How Medicare Came Into Existence

Aug. 6, 1965
Cover Credit: BORIS CHALIAPIN The Aug. 6, 1965, cover of TIME

TIME said the bill—signed on July 30, 1965—created a "welfare state beyond Roosevelt's wildest dreams"

It was 50 years ago Thursday, on July 30, 1965, that President Lyndon Johnson signed the Medicare bill, turning the national social security healthcare program for older Americans into law. But, despite Johnson’s legendary powers of legislative persuasion, the celebratory signing event—complete with the enrollment of the first Medicare beneficiary, former President Harry S. Truman—could have looked very different.

After all, the idea of helping American seniors afford health care took time to gain traction: The idea came up not long after Franklin Roosevelt initiated the modern social-security system in the 1930s. When the coinage “Medicare” first came on the American scene, the program it described was not the one we think of today. In 1960, the term referred to an opposing program proposed by the Eisenhower administration. The big fear at the time was that tying any kind of health aid to social security would quickly deplete the funds available for that then-30-year-old system; Eisenhower’s version, overseen by then-Vice President Richard Nixon, would have been both voluntary and state-funded.

In that year’s Presidential campaign, however, Nixon lost to challenger John F. Kennedy—who, as TIME put it a few years later, “vowed without qualification that his Administration would persuade a Democratic Congress to pass a medicare bill, to be financed under the social security system.” Kennedy died, however, before he could make good on that promise—which is where Johnson comes in. Benefiting from his 1964 election victory, Johnson made it happen. But what exactly it would look like remained to be settled.

By April of 1965, as TIME reported, there were three options in the running: Johnson’s social-security-linked compulsory program; an Eisenhower-esque voluntary program with no link to social security; or an American Medical Association-backed plan called “eldercare,” which prioritized patient choice and was need-based. The solution came, surprisingly, in the form of House Ways and Mean Committee chair Wilbur Mills, who had been a staunch opponent of Medicare. He combined elements of the three plans into one that would succeed. The basics of the plan were compulsory and funded by increasing social-security taxes, while extras were voluntary. The program we now know as Medicaid, for those in need, would also be expanded.

“The medicare bill will not solve all the problems of growing old—but it will certainly make the process much less costly to the elderly,” TIME noted. And that wasn’t all it did, the magazine continued. The medicare bill represented a fundamental change to American political norms:

Almost 30 years ago, Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed into law the Social Security Act. At the moment of signing, he issued a statement that, in retrospect, sounds almost apologetic: “We have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden old age. This law, too, represents a cornerstone in a structure which is being built but is by no means complete. It is a structure intended to lessen the force of possible future depressions.”

Social security was mostly an emergency act in a nation still struggling out of the depths of a depression in which, in F.D.R.’s famed phrase, more than one-third of the nation was “ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished.” The change since then in American life has never been more apparent than last week, when Congress acted on two bills that projected a new sort of welfare state beyond Roosevelt’s wildest dreams. First, the House of Representatives passed and sent to the Senate, where it faces certain swift approval, the Johnson Administration’s $6 billion-a-year medicare bill…

Action on both bills came not in time of depression but in the midst of the most prosperous year that the affluent society has ever known. There were a few squawks about presidential pressure, but it was widely accepted that both measures would achieve great good in making the U.S. even more affluent without turning it into a socialistic society. It was generally conceded that both bills, despite the vastness of their scope, were aimed not at increasing the power of the Federal Government, but at eradicating some remaining blemishes in the Great Society.

Read the full story, here in the TIME Vault: The New Welfare State

TIME space

The Sadly Familiar Reason NASA Was Created

Dwight D.  Eisenhower, T. Keith Glennan
AP President Dwight Eisenhower and Dr. T. Keith Glennan, the first head of NASA, discuss photos received from the satellite Tires I in Washington on April 1, 1960,

The act that created the space agency was signed on July 29, 1958

NASA may be devoted to exploring the universe, but the agency owes its existence to a far more earthly concern: office politics.

The National Aeronautics and Space Act, which was signed into law on July 29, 1958, was intended to “provide for research into problems of flight within and outside the earth’s atmosphere, and for other purposes.” One of those other purposes, as TIME noted shortly after the act was signed, was “to overcome the interservice rivalries that had confused the U.S. missile and space programs.”

Before NASA, various branches of the military were conducting research into aspects of space exploration like jet propulsion and satellites, and each wanted a key role in the exciting new field. Giving a single branch agency over all space exploration would alienate the others. Moreover, it could signal that the universe was a battleground as much as a place of inquiry. As the NASA act noted, activities in space “should be devoted to peaceful purposes.”

With the establishment of an agency specifically dedicated to space—and its counterpoint, the military research agency now known as DARPA, which was created at the same time—that bureaucratic nightmare was thought solved.

Or not. As TIME reported that autumn, NASA’s authority to take over peaceful space-centric mission didn’t exactly go down easy:

Energetic Dr. T. Keith Glennan, chief of the newly created National Aeronautics and Space Administration, made his way into the Pentagon office of Army Secretary Wilber Brucker last fortnight with a message: civilian-run NASA, operating under Congressional authority, intended to take over the Army’s missile-making Redstone Arsenal, 2,100 scientists from its missile team, the Army-backed Caltech Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Los Angeles and various other installations.

Brucker lost no time hustling down to the office of Deputy Defense Secretary Donald Quarles to protest. In Chicago Major General John Medaris, Redstone commander, dramatically got aboard a plane for Washington to fight off NASA capture—while a news leak rallied press reinforcements.

President Eisenhower tried to stop the kerfuffle by saying that he hadn’t yet decided who would run the Arsenal and Laboratory in the long run. The Army implied that they’d be fine splitting the difference and giving everything except Redstone to NASA.

A version of that plan is what ended up happening, and before the end of the year NASA’s preeminence in American space exploration was settled. And, TIME reported, there was no sign of future in-fighting—at least not that NASA’s Glennan would be involved with. “I doubt,” he said, “that I can go through this again.”

Read more from 1958, here in the TIME Vault: Fight for Space

TIME politics

Presidential Candidates Who Ignore Race Are Making a Mistake

Race-neutral solutions won't address the root of economic problems

Earlier this month, presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley were booed and heckled by liberal activists at a town hall discussion at the Netroots Nation annual conference.

Why would attendees at a gathering of left-leaning progressives commandeer the microphone on stage and shout down Democratic White House contenders? Because Sanders and O’Malley, like the rest of the candidates, have built political platforms that largely ignore race.

The activists at the Netroots meeting were angry because Sanders and O’Malley have failed to respond to racial criminal justice issues, largely ignoring recent high-profile cases – such as the death in police custody of Sandra Bland – and police misconduct involving blacks. Instead, the candidates have focused on economic reforms. But those platforms ignore race, too.

Sanders eventually denounced the circumstances surrounding the Sandra Bland arrest and has called for police reforms, and Hillary Clinton now appears to have embraced the Black Lives Matter movement.

Still, none of the White House hopefuls has publicly discussed the role that demographics – particularly race – play in determining who will thrive, and who will struggle, in today’s economy.

Cookie-cutter platforms

Sanders, who is a socialist and the most progressive candidate in the presidential race, has characterized the well-documented wealth and income gaps as “grotesquely” unfair. His proposed solutions, though, are generic and race-neutral ones, like raising the minimum wage or creating jobs in low-income neighborhoods.

Likewise, Hillary Clinton’s recently announced economic policy platform largely steers clear of race and instead focuses on stagnating middle-class wages.

Few Republicans have discussed racial justice issues either, and Jeb Bush has now dismissed the Black Lives Matter movement as merely a “slogan.”

But, about eight months before he launched his presidential campaign, Senator Rand Paul, a libertarian-leaning Republican, wrote an op-ed that discusses the racial disparities in the criminal justice system. The opinion, written in response to the violence in Ferguson, Missouri, after the police shooting death of Michael Brown, argues that “[a]nyone who thinks race does not skew the application of criminal justice in this country is just not paying close enough attention.”

Since announcing his candidacy for president, though, Rand has largely avoided discussing racial criminal justice issues. While his official Web page refers to an “unjust criminal justice system,” his campaign has not focused on how the criminal justice system disproportionately harms black Americans.

Likewise, rather than focusing on police misconduct as a cause for the recent riots in Baltimore, he instead suggested that they resulted from a breakdown in family structure, a lack of fathers and the lack of a moral code in society.

While Republican candidate Rick Perry mentioned black poverty in a recent speech, his response was also a race-neutral one that focused on giving people at the bottom of the economic ladder a chance to climb.

For the most part, the candidates’ proposals to address income and wage inequality are generic and nonracial: raise the minimum wage, expand social security, tax the ultra-rich or increase the earned income tax credit. None of the proposals acknowledges that, because of the widening wealth gap, race and ethnicity have now become almost decisive factors in determining whether a family will thrive or struggle financially.

Who thrives and who struggles

The authors of a series of essays recently issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis show that race remains a powerful, if not conclusive, predictor of whether you will be a financial “thriver” or “struggler.”

After analyzing data collected in the Fed’s Survey of Consumer Finances from 1989 to 2013, the authors found that about a quarter of American families are financially thriving, while the other 75% are struggling.

Thriving families are middle-aged, white or Asian college graduates who have above-average incomes and have amassed enormous amounts of wealth. In contrast, strugglers are young, black or Hispanic, are less educated, have little or no wealth and work in low-wage jobs. The essays reveal that income – and particularly wealth – gaps among whites, blacks and Hispanics are staggering.

Average income for blacks and Hispanics is 40% lower than for whites. Even worse, average wealth held by Hispanic and black families is 90% lower. While the presidential candidates’ proposals to increase the minimum wage might help close the income gap, a little more take-home pay would do little to close the staggering wealth gap.

The essays also reveal that wealth patterns for racial groups have changed little over the last 25 years and, except for Asian families, may now be permanent. For example, from 1989 to 2013, white families have consistently held the greatest amount of wealth, followed by Asian, then Hispanic, and finally black families. Although Asian family wealth has steadily increased over the 25-year period because of higher college completion rates for young Asians, financial patterns have remained virtually unchanged for whites, Hispanics and blacks.

Race-neutral solutions won’t address the roots

Increasing college graduate rates for blacks and Latinos or making colleges free (as Sanders has proposed) are race-neutral solutions that could ostensibly close the wealth gap. But, even if more young blacks and Latinos receive college degrees, the wealth gaps won’t go away.

The Fed researchers considered whether education, rather than race, was the main cause for the wealth gap. They found that age and education play only small roles in explaining the gaps. Racial and ethnic differences in financial well-being remain even after accounting for the age and educational attainment of the head of the family.

In the last decade, the U.S. population became more racially and ethnically diverse than it has ever been. If political leaders continue to ignore widening wealth inequality, the gaps may become permanent, and that could be destabilizing both politically and economically. It will be harder to boost the economy in the future if blacks and Latinos are permanently relegated to an economic underclass that has little wealth.

It is not particularly surprising that the presidential hopefuls shy away from saying that race may determine a family’s financial well-being. Though a recent New York Times poll now shows that most Americans think race relations in this country are generally bad, making such a statement in a political climate that purports to be colorblind might quickly end the candidate’s presidential aspirations.

Until politicians are willing to admit that whether you thrive or struggle financially may be influenced by your race, however, the United States will remain racially split into groups of a few haves – and a lot of have-nots.

This article originally appeared on The ConversationThe Conversation

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Law

When Spousal Rape First Became a Crime in the U.S.

A statement by Donald Trump's lawyer has highlighted continued misunderstanding about the concept

Donald Trump lawyer Michael Cohen quickly apologized on Tuesday after he said—in response to an old allegation against Trump—that it’s impossible to rape one’s spouse. Cohen said that he did not actually believe what he had said.

His original statement also happens to be inaccurate—spousal rape is a crime in the U.S. today—but that wasn’t always so.

English common law, the source of much traditional law in the U.S., had long held that it wasn’t legally possible for a man to rape his wife. It was in 1736 that Sir Matthew Hale—the same jurist who said that it was hard to prove a rape accusation from a woman whose personal life wasn’t entirely “innocent,” setting the standard that a woman’s past sexual experiences could be used by the defense in a rape case—explained that marriage constituted permanent consent that could not be retracted.

That idea stood for centuries. Then, in 1979, a pair of cases highlighted changing legal attitudes about the concept.

Until then, most state criminal codes had rape definitions that explicitly excluded spouses. (In fact, as TIME later pointed out, it wasn’t just the case that saying “no” to one’s husband didn’t make the act that followed rape; in addition, saying “no” to one’s husband was usually grounds for him to get a divorce.) As the year opened, a man in Salem, Ore., was found not guilty of raping his wife, though they both stated that they had fought before having sex. But, even as the verdict was returned, a National Organization for Women spokesperson told TIME that “the very fact that there has been such a case” meant that change was in the air—and she was quickly proved right.

The case believed to be the first-ever American conviction for spousal rape came that fall, when a Salem, Mass., bartender drunkenly burst into the home he used to share with his estranged wife and raped her. It’s not hard to see how this case was the one that made the possibility of rape between a married couple clear to the public: they were in the middle of a divorce, and the crime involved house invasion and violence. As TIME noted, several other states had also adopted laws making it possible to pursue such a case, though they had not yet been put to the test.

By 1983, when TIME devoted an issue to “private violence,” 17 states had gotten rid of the rules that made spousal rape impossible to prosecute. In 1991, as part of another cover-story package about rape, the question came up again, revealing another change in attitudes that had yet to occur: A governmental committee the previous year had estimated that about 15% of married women would experience marital rape, and yet few of those rapes would be reported. Though the oft-cited joke about spousal rape—”But if you can’t rape your wife, who can you rape?”—no longer described mainstream opinion, an activist told TIME that many people still thought that marital rape was not real abuse but rather “she has a headache and doesn’t want to have sex and she gives in.”

And yet, when incidents were pursued, the charges tended to stick: the vast majority of cases brought in the first years after 1979 led to a conviction.

Today, spousal rape is illegal throughout the U.S.

TIME politics

This Is How Politically Inferior Women Were After the American Revolution

Abigail Adams
MPI—Getty Images circa 1775: Abigail Smith Adams (1744 - 1818), from a painting by C Schessele

When an American woman married a foreign man, she lost her American citizenship altogether

History News Network

This post is in partnership with the History News Network, the website that puts the news into historical perspective. The article below was originally published at HNN.

Hillary Rodham Clinton might become president just a few years short of the hundredth anniversary of the nineteenth amendment, which gave American women the right to vote. But it will have been more than twice that long since this nation in its founding years missed the opportunity to include women in its governance. Images of early twentieth-century suffragists marching for the vote in their long skirts and beflowered hats can give the impression that women’s political power gradually grew from the distant past through today, but American history has not been a constant march toward broader political rights. Although we might finally have a first female president in 2017, by 1776 three women had actually ruled over the British colonies of North America: Queen Elizabeth I, for whom the Virginia colony of Roanoke was named; Queen Anne, who ruled England from 1702 to 1714; and her sister Mary II, who ruled alongside her husband. Yet the founders of the United States created an independent republic that decreased women’s political participation and delayed their inclusion in the governing of this nation.

Of course European and colonial American women did not have equal political rights with men. The fact that the new country had founding fathers reflects women’s political subordination. Regarding legal rights, Britain’s system of coverture meant that married women had no legal identity of their own. As dependents of their husbands, they could not own property or businesses, serve on juries, write contracts, sue, or be sued. (The British and American custom of a wife taking her husband’s last name represented women’s loss of legal identity within marriage.)

Yet colonial women’s inequality to men was part of a complicated hierarchy. Women were dependent on their fathers or husbands, but everyone but the monarch was dependent on someone. Most men did not have voting rights. Common people’s political rights often lay in street protests, and women were part of the crowd. Widows were not subject to coverture and could own property and run businesses.

The founders of the American republic dramatically changed American political life, but they decided not to advance women’s political or legal rights. Women played a vital role in the protests and the war against the British empire. Women were in the crowds protesting the Stamp Act. Because women were in charge of most household consumption, the Revolution depended on their enthusiastic support of boycotts against British goods. Philadelphian Esther de Berdt Reed raised thousands of dollars to support the Continental Army. Countless women contributed and solicited money, sewed shirts for soldiers (each embroidered with the name of the woman who made it), prepared food, and made bullets. Both the Continental Army and the British Army enlisted women as cooks and laundresses. Other women unofficially accompanied the army to stay with their family members, protect themselves from invading armies, and take advantage of the economic opportunities a large army provided. Countless women managed farms and business when their husbands went to war. Not all critical contributions to the founding of a nation take place in a convention hall or on a battlefield.

Some women urged that the United States include women as it expanded political rights. Judith Sargent Murrayargued in the Massachusetts Magazinethat women, too, had the right to self-govern that the Enlightenment declared for men. It made no sense to assume that nature had “yielded to one half of the human species so unquestionable a mental superiority.” The new country should ensure that “independence should be placed within their grasp” as well. In her valedictory address to the Philadelphia Academy in 1793, graduate Priscilla Mason argued that men “denied us the means of knowledge, and then reproached us for the want of it. . . . They doomed the sex to servile or frivolous employments, on purpose to degrade [our] minds, that they themselves might hold unrivalled, the power and preeminence they had usurped.” She hoped that her generation of women would gain access to the professions, including government.

Instead, Congress left coverture in place and let the states decide voting regulations. All of the states eventually explicitly defined voting citizens as male and white. New Jersey’s state constitution initially granted the vote to “all inhabitants” who were adult property-owners, so some white and black propertied widows (as well as some black men) voted in the state’s early years. Female property-owners’ participation was uncontroversial enough that New Jersey’s 1790 election law explicitly referred to the voter as “he or she.” But as elections became more hotly contested in the early nineteenth century, the political parties accused each other of taking advantage of women or even dressing men as women in order to commit voter fraud. In 1807, New Jersey joined the other states with a new state constitution that restricted the vote to free, white, adult male property owners. Some districts in some states allowed women to vote in school board elections, figuring they had particular expertise and concern over children’s education. But generally, as the states dropped the requirement for property ownership to vote or hold office, they increasingly defined political participation as the purview of only white men. Coverture remained the law. When an American woman married a foreign man, she lost her American citizenship altogether.

When regions that had not been British colonies became states in the union, women there lost ground. The colonies of other empires, including France and Spain, had not had coverture, so women had legal rights and usually greater economic opportunities. In most American Indian nations, women owned the farmland, but many of them also fell under coverture as the United States expanded west.

Hillary Clinton’s career is an important milestone in the history of formal female participation in government, but women have been crucial to the founding and the development of the nation since its beginning, despite their lack of recognition.

Kathleen DuVal teaches Early American history and American Indian history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her latest book is Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution (2015).

TIME reproductive rights

Why I Donated Fetal Tissue After My Abortion

Katie Lyon is a mother and a supporter of Planned Parenthood

I was able to turn my pain into something that could benefit someone else

Nine years ago, my husband and I were newlyweds, eager to start our family right away. We figured, why wait? So I started taking prenatal vitamins and folic acid. I made sure I was eating right and doing all the things you’re supposed to do to ensure a healthy pregnancy. When I became pregnant after two months, we were overjoyed.

Eighteen and a half weeks into the pregnancy, I had an ultrasound. Even I could see on the screen that something was wrong. It looked like there was a hole in my daughter’s back. The technician and genetic counselor in the room got real quiet. It turned out that our daughter had myriad problems, including spina bifida and a tethered spinal cord. We didn’t want to rush into such an important decision, but we did eventually decide we wanted to end the pregnancy. Then, we had to wait for an available appointment. We had an abortion at 22 weeks.

It was the right decision for us as a family. It was a decision we made with our doctor — which is how it should be. When lawmakers try to ban abortion after 20 weeks, or restrict access in any way, I know that they just don’t get it. It’s not their right to make this decision for anyone else. Unless someone has been through an experience like mine personally, they really have no idea what it is like, and no idea what they would do in our shoes.

It was horrible for us to have to end a much-wanted pregnancy, but we made the best of it by donating the fetal tissue for research. We contacted our genetics counselor, who coordinated the donation with a spina bifida research project funded by the National Institutes of Health. We figured that donating the tissue could perhaps spare other families the painful situation we found ourselves in. It was clear to me and my husband that the question of what caused the spina bifida needed to be studied.

I feel fortunate that I had the chance to donate the tissue — I was able to turn my pain into something that could benefit someone else.

I want people who are politicizing the option to donate fetal tissue to think about the implications of removing this option. I want them to think about people suffering from diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS and sickle cell disease — and to consider those people’s family members who no doubt want their loved ones to live longer, fuller lives.

Why would anyone want to destroy the chance to save another person’s life?

Recently, a group began releasing secretly taped videos of Planned Parenthood employees, in which doctors discuss fetal-tissue donations for research purposes. After the videos became public, I decided to advocate for Planned Parenthood by telling my story, so people can understand why fetal-tissue research is a good and important act. (It is also a legal act.)

I’m concerned that as a result of the current ongoing attack against the organization for making fetal tissue available for scientific research, anti-abortion-rights lawmakers will try to defund what is an incredibly important healthcare organization. Republican presidential candidate and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has said he will push a vote to cut funding. His fellow candidate Texas Senator Ted Cruz has also called for defunding, and an investigation into Planned Parenthood. Other prominent Republicans, including Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Rick Perry have made similar statements.

Defunding Planned Parenthood would be a huge mistake. It would mean taking healthcare away from millions of women like me who rely on Planned Parenthood for birth control, Pap smears, breast and cervical cancer screenings, STI diagnosis and treatment, sex education and — yes — abortion. It would mean going backward, not forward, with scientific research that benefits society at large.

After my abortion, I was able to become pregnant again. I gave birth to a healthy son, who’s now eight years old. I am grateful that I was able to make my own decision about my reproductive health, and plan my family so that my son can grow up with the resources that every child needs. And I will continue to fight to make sure that these rights are not taken away from me and other women.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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