The Republican War Against Women Rears Its Ugly Head In Washington
Late Thursday night, as midnight approached, House Republicans called a vote on Tennessee reactionary Diane Black's HJ Res 43. The resolution, which had 47 Republican cosponsors plus one putative Democrat (far right Blue Dog Dan Lipinski from Chicago), states that "Congress disapproves the action of the District of Columbia Council in approving the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2014 (D.C. Act 20-593), signed by the Mayor of the District on January 25, 2015." It passed 228-192. What was overturned was a local law prohibiting workplace discrimination based on reproductive health choices. Joining Lipinski in crossing the aisle to vote with the GOP against Choice were 2 other repulsive Blue Dogs, Collin Peterson (MN) and Henry Cuellar (TX). 13 Republicans-- mostly from relatively mainstream districts-- crossed the aisle in the other direction and voted with the Democrats:
• Mike Coffman (R-CO)- D+1(Extremely vulnerable Bruce Poliquin, an anti-Choice nut and a political coward from a D+2 district in Maine, ducked out on the vote entirely.) As Christina Marcos reported for The Hill, this was the first time since 1991 that either House of Congress passed legislation to stop a D.C. law. Ted Cruz has already introduced a companion bill for the Senate.
• Ryan Costello (R-PA)- R+2
• Carlos Curbello (R-FL)- R+1
• Charlie Dent (R-PA)- R+2
• Robert Dold (R-IL)- D+8
• Chris Gibson (R-NY)- D+1
• Richard Hanna (R-NY)- R+3
• David Jolly (R-FL)- R+1
• John Katko (R-NY)- D+5
• Martha McSally (R-AZ)- R+3
• Pat Meehan (R-PA)- R+2
• Tom Reed (R-NY)- R+3
• Elise Stefanik (R-NY)- even PVI
The D.C. law, known as the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act, prohibits employers from discriminating against workers, their spouses or dependents for obtaining contraception or family planning services. The law further bans employees from retaliation for having abortions.One vulnerable Republican incumbent, Dave Reichert, fearing a primary from the far right, voted for Black's bill despite repesenting a largely suburban Seattle swing district that supports women's right to choice. Reichert's opponent, Blue America-endorsed Jason Ritchie, is a supporter of equal rights for women and for women's Choice. "A woman's health is between her and her doctor," he states flatly. "No politician, regardless of his own personal views, should dictate what a woman does with her own body. I do not support government engaging in any unwarranted interference into medical decisions, especially for political gain. That is why I believe women should have open access to health care, including birth control and family planning." It's a major point of distinction between Reichert and Ritchie, who went on to say:
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), the District's nonvoting representative in Congress, condemned her colleagues for forcing a debate on a law that doesn't affect their constituents.
"This resolution is wildly undemocratic. It is a naked violation of the nation's founding principle of local control of local affairs and is profoundly offensive to D.C. residents. This resolution uniquely targets my district, but every member will get to vote on it except for me, the District's elected representative," Norton said while opening floor debate... The D.C. council included a provision in the law to clarify that religious organizations don't have to provide health insurance coverage for contraception or abortions.
..."This bill would make it open season for bosses to dig into their employees’ reproductive health practices and fire women for taking birth control or having an abortion,” Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement.
Democrats warned that D.C. workers could be fired or face retribution for their personal healthcare decisions. They further noted the late hour GOP leaders allotted for floor debate.
"This is a new low in the war on women," said Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.). "The majority doesn't even have the courage to bring up this bill in the light of day."
But Republicans maintained the disapproval resolution would ensure religious employers' First Amendment rights are protected.
"This is not a war on women. It is an outright war on religious liberties," said Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.).
Hillary Clinton, through a spokeswoman, slammed the House GOP's resolution in a statement to CNN.
"Hillary Clinton has fought for women and families and their right to access the full range of reproductive health care without interference from politicians or employers," Clinton campaign Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri said in the statement.
"Hillary will fight to make it easier, not more difficult, for women and families to get ahead and ensure that women are not discriminated against for personal medical decisions."
This issue is more than just a social one; it has real economic impact as well. Most American families depend on income from both parents to get by, and restricting women's access to basic health services and family planning makes it difficult or impossible for these families to stay afloat.
Data from around the world shows the connection between economic success and family planning, proving that countries with greater access out perform those that do not. If we want America to remain a leader in the global economy, we cannot hold women back.
Republicans like Dave Reichert continue to force their moral beliefs on us by demanding that we submit to their values. Time and time again, he has tried to limit women's control over their bodies and their healthcare.
I believe in laws that protect our freedoms and our choices. I believe in open access to family planning, birth control and freedom of reproductive choice. If elected, I would work to ensure that the government stays out of the doctor's office and that women are free to make their own decisions about their health care.