The war on women

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the authority to declare war, so I want to know: Who authorized the war on American women currently being waged in Republican-controlled legislatures around the country? Aided by some Democrats at the federal and state levels, extreme measures cloaked in lofty rhetoric about fiscal discipline and civil rights are being proposed and passed that undermine our status as equal Americans and take away our access to legal health procedures.
 
In Georgia, as a way to make sure women don’t “game the system” a measure would require a woman to prove that she had a miscarriage; and in his budget, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker bans insurance coverage for prescription birth control.
 
In South Dakota, a measure would redefine murder as “justifiable homicide” if the relative of a woman who’d decided to have an abortion kills the person who performed that procedure. There’s also a new law requiring a woman to wait three days after meeting with her doctor, and undergo a consultation at a "pregnancy help center" — to speak with counselors who oppose abortion.
 
And the state that codified racial profiling has now codified race in its abortion laws. That’s right, in Arizona a bill expected to be signed by Gov. Jan Brewer makes it a felony for doctors to perform an abortion based on race or sex. Supporters say their goal is to prevent “race- or sex-based discrimination against the unborn.” The bill is based on the "Predna Act," sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), which would add criminal penalties for race- or sex-based abortions to the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
 
The perversion of civil rights law to “blow a fatal hole in Roe v. Wade” and the use of minority women as pawns in an ideological battle is appalling. Given that the very same supporters of these measures also oppose Planned Parenthood, which serves communities of color providing basic well-woman care, prenatal care and cancer screenings, it's obvious the real motive has nothing to do with protecting civil rights or minority children.
 
Here in Washington, we’re fighting the “let women die” provision, which says a doctor can refuse to treat a pregnant woman, even if an abortion is the only way to save her life. And just last week, the House GOP introduced a bill that would expand government and turn IRS agents into “abortion cops,” requiring them to investigate whether a terminated pregnancy was the result of rape or incest, and how it was paid for. Why? To ensure that no tax credits or deductions were used to pay for the procedure, or the health insurance that covers that procedure. So let’s say a woman is raped but chooses not to report it. If she also chooses to terminate her pregnancy, she would only be able to rely on her word as proof in an audit.
 
Each of these measures essentially says that the judgment of a legislative body supersedes that of a woman, her family and doctor, in the most personal, private health decisions. Yet if a woman is effectively blocked from having the legal procedure of abortion, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and their crew have no problem cutting funding for community health centers ($1.3 million), nutrition programs for infants and children ($758 million) or Headstart — the very programs aimed at helping these same women be effective parents to their children. And where is the outrage or consideration of the impact — a potential death sentence — these cuts have on the child once born and in need of proper nutrition, healthcare or a good education?
 
Women took two important steps forward during the first year of the Obama presidency with the final passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Affordable Care Act. Ledbetter corrected the injustice of women being paid less than men in the same jobs — also affecting their pensions, retirement and Social Security. And finally, being a woman is no longer a legal reason for insurance companies to charge higher premiums or use our gender (or a rape) as a pre-existing condition, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
 
The measures being concocted in state legislatures and on Capitol Hill are also dangerous not just because they threaten our rights or the progress we are making toward equality, but because they undermine women as credible, competent, equal human beings, relegating us to a lesser status where we are seen as incapable of making responsible decisions for ourselves, our families, the companies we lead or the high-ranking positions we hold.

We literally cannot afford a backslide.

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