Republicans have gone after Planned Parenthood, tried to redefine rape, worked to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and want to de-fund Title X funding. Hundreds of bills are making their way through state legislatures across the country right now trying to limit women’s rights to abortion and contraceptives. To add insult to injury, Darrell Issa held an all male hearing in Congress to discuss women’s reproductive rights and contraception. We must fight back against these outrages!! What should we do?
First, we must hold Mitt Romney accountable for his outrageous campaign positions when we vote in November:
1. Romney embraced the Blunt-Rubio amendment, which would severely restrict women’s access to health care. Fortunately, the Senate narrowly voted it down.
2. Romney said "Planned Parenthood: we're going to get rid of that."
3. Romney pledged to eliminate Title X funding if elected president. Title X, among other things, provides federal funding for preventive-health services and family planning to poor women.
4. Romney supports overturning Roe vs. Wade - the landmark Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal for all American women in 1972.
5. Romney backs the notion of redefining "personhood" to include fetuses as a way of further restricting legal abortion.
6. Romney failed to condemn comments by Rush Limbaugh, who called Sandra Fluke a “slut” for wanting to use contraceptives. Romney said he would have chosen other words (but, tellingly, did not say that he disagreed with Limbaugh)
Second, we must be aware of what’s happening in state houses across the country.
Below is a list of legislative actions being taken in various states. After reading this partial list, ask yourself whether you believe these are simply random pieces of legislation, or if you conclude that there is a concerted organized, effort to roll back women’s rights.
1. In Virginia, Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell recently signed a bill requiring women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion. And women must also pay for these unwanted ultrasounds. Outrageous!
2. In Wisconsin, Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill requiring, “additional physical exams…a woman must receive prior to and after an abortion,” while at the same time making deep cuts to “family planning services that prevent pregnancy.” Outrageous!
3. In Kansas, Republican Gov. Brownbeck signed an anti abortion law requiring doctors to tell women that abortion is linked to breast cancer!!! That happens to be false, but it’s the law in Kansas. Outrageous!!
4. In PA, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett signed an ultrasound bill requiring women seeking an abortion to watch an ultrasound of her abdomen on a computer screen. When asked if that seemed reasonable, he suggested that “you just have to, close your eyes”. Outrageous!
5. Right now, Arizona is actually considering a bill that would give employers the right to fire women for using birth control. We aren't talking here just about exemptions for religiously affiliated employers like Catholic hospitals and universities. We are talking about authorizing secular, for-profit employers to deny women coverage for birth control if the employer doesn't believe that she and her partner should be allowed to have sex without getting pregnant. Outrageous!
6. On Monday night this week, the Idaho Senate passed legislation mandating that a woman exercising her constitutionally protected right to choose to have an abortion, must undergo two ultrasounds, including an invasive transvaginal ultrasound, with no exceptions, even if the pregnancy was the result of rape, incest, or medical emergencies. Outrageous!
How else can we fight back? Third, we can let our voices be heard: WE VOTE.
Remember, in 2008 10 million more women voted than men. Obama won by 9.5 million votes. Among women voters, Obama beat McCain by 13%!
Your voice and your vote will remind Republicans: Contraception is a settled issue. The FDA approved the birth control pill in 1960 and in 1965 the Supreme Court affirmed the right to use contraception in Griswold v. Connecticut. And in 1972, the United States Supreme Court decided that unmarried couples had the same right as married couples to possess contraceptives in Eisenstadt v. Baird.
As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton stays out of domestic politics, but the attack on women’s rights prompted her to wonder out loud to a packed audience: “Why extremists always focus on women remains a mystery to me, but they all seem to. It doesn't matter what country they're in or what religion they claim. They want to control women. They want to control how we dress. They want to control how we act. They even want to control the decisions we make about our own health and bodies. Yes, it is hard to believe that even here at home, we have to stand up for women's rights and reject efforts to marginalize any one of us, because America needs to set an example for the entire world."
DNC Chair Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz reminds us that prior to President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, “being a woman and having ovaries was a preexisting condition.” Now Republicans hope to go back to that time by repealing the president’s landmark health care reform bill. Women pay higher premiums than men for the same health insurance coverage. When the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented in 2014, that practice will become illegal. Women and men will pay equal premiums for equal coverage.
In California we tend to think “it can never happen here”. Well… women felt the same in Wisconsin, Virginia and Arizona.
Women should not have to battle against this assault on our rights on our own. Men, please join our battle. Don’t be complacent! Get involved with the Democratic Party, with Obama For America, or with Women For Obama. It’s up to us to get involved and work to protect our hard-fought rights. We can only be sure “it never happens here” by working to elect the right people. Yes, we all must vote, and we all must join the work being done by the many volunteers in the Democratic Party, OFA and WFO. Together, women and men, let’s work to re-elect President Obama, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and other Democrats to public office!