Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Did We Elect A Congress That Isn't Really Doing Anything... Except Making Divisive Noises And Trying To Restrict Women's Choice?


Barbara Boxer doesn't tweet much. As you can see, just 411 tweets ever and before yesterday the last one was simply "Thank You, California!" on November 3 after she beat some wealthy Republican by just over a million votes, 5,218,441 to 4,217,366 in her reelection bid. Yesterday, however she was drawing a line in the sand against the onslaught from the religious right trying, again, to grandstand against women's right to choice. I guess it's easier for them to talk about this pointless stupidity than it is to do something about jobs. Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes presented it well on Rachel's MSNBC show Monday evening and the clip is at the bottom of this post. Senator Boxer is working in tandem with New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to expose what they call "the most egregious attacks on women’s health we’ve seen." They're asking all Americans to stand up to Boehner and his crazed, lazy cronies:
• They want to stop women from using their own private money to buy insurance covering a full range of reproductive health care.

• They want to block access to mammograms and other preventative health care services.

• They want to raise taxes on families and businesses that try to keep or buy insurance that covers a full range of reproductive health care.

• Before the public outcry, they even proposed changing the definitions of rape and incest to actually take away health care services from survivors of these heinous crimes.

Boehner's theater-- or dog and pony show for the deluded right-wing base-- is taking place in the House, of course, and yesterday the Republiclowns running the Judiciary Committee called forth a veritable circus of silly "witnesses" to "testify" at a hearing about H.R. 3, their first big anti-choice move of the year. These are the idiots they wasted the afternoon listening to: Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; Sara Rosenbaum, professor of health law and policy and chair of the Department of Health Policy at The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services; and Cathy Ruse, senior fellow for legal studies at the Family Research Council. And today they followed that pointless sideshow up with an Energy and Commerce Committee meeting on... what else? Abortion!

Revolted by this game, 3 Democratic Members of the Judiciary Committee, former Chairman John Conyers, Jr., Jerrold Nadler, Sheila Jackson Lee, Maxine Waters), Mike Quigley, Judy Chu, Linda Sanchez, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz pushed back with their own press event highlighting the Republican cynicism inherent in these kinds of culture wars rather than working on jobs and issues that are actually plaguing American families.

Obviously it isn't only women who are offended by this attempt to insert Big Government into women's personal health issues. Jerry Nadler, former Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution speaks for the vast majority of Democratic men in voicing his vehement opposition to H.R.3 and its blatant attempt to roll back hard-won reproductive rights while redefining rape and incest in bizarre ways to make women less safe. Here is a portion of Rep. Nadler's very powerful presentation at the hearing:
“Today’s hearing concerns what just might be the most difficult and divisive issue we will have the opportunity to consider. A woman’s right to make decisions about her own body, whether to become pregnant, to continue a pregnancy, or whether to terminate a pregnancy, has long been a right protected by the Constitution. Whether or not you think that is a good idea, or a fair reading of the Constitution, it remains the law of the land.
“Congress has, for more than three decades, used economic coercion to prevent women from exercising that constitutionally protected choice. Until now, that coercion was directed against the poor, and women dependent on the government for health care: military personnel and their dependents, prison inmates, and federal employees. We have, thus, developed a two-tiered system, where people with means have the right to choose, and where vulnerable populations do not.
“Now comes the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act which is really misnamed, because it goes well outside the limits of taxpayer funding and places government in the middle of private choices by families and businesses about how they wish to spend their own health care dollars.  This legislation represents an entirely new front in the war on women and their families.
“After two years of hearing my Republican colleagues complain that government should not meddle in the private insurance market, or in private health care choices, I was stunned to see legislation so obviously designed to do just that. It seems that Republicans only believe in freedom provided no one uses that freedom in a way that Republicans find objectionable. It is a strange understanding of freedom.
“Even more stunning, this bill contains huge tax increases on families, businesses, and the self-employed if they spend their own money-- let me repeat that: their own money-– on abortion coverage or services. The power to tax is the power to destroy, and, here, the taxing power is being used to destroy the right of every American to make private health care decisions free from government interference.
“A Republican tax increase? You heard it here first.
“I am equally surprised to find out that my Republican colleagues think that a tax exemption or credit is a form of government funding. What happened to all the rhetoric about it being ‘our money?’ Or does that only apply in certain circumstances. Will we now have to judge every tax exemption or credit as a form of government funding for the recipient? I’m sure that there will be many businesses, charities, and religious denominations that will be alarmed to find this out.
“I also join many other Americans in being absolutely horrified that the sponsors of this bill seem not to know what rape and incest are.
“Rape, according to this legislation is only forcible rape. Date rape drugs, sex with minors or with the mentally impaired are-- at least according to the sponsors of this bill-- not really rape anymore.
“Incest is also no longer incest. Instead, it is now ‘incest with a minor,’ which means-- I guess-- that incest with a high school student doesn’t count.
“Have the extremes really taken such a hold on this debate that we can’t even agree to help children and teenagers who are the victims of predators? Is there no compassion left in this place?
“There is also a provision in this bill that would allow any health care provider or institution to refuse to provide an abortion to a woman whose life is in imminent peril. They could let that woman die right there in the emergency room and the government would be powerless to do anything.  In fact, if the government insisted that the hospital not let the woman die, section 311 of the bill would allow the hospital to sue the government and, in the case of a state or locality, strip that community of all federal funding until the jurisdiction relented.
“That’s the new definition of ‘pro-life? 
“So, Mr. Chairman, let’s start off on the right foot: the No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Act is not really about taxpayer funding; it’s about government interfering with private health care decisions. It is not about protecting the innocent, it is about creating appalling, even life threatening situations, for women. It is a tax increase of historic proportions. Finally, if passed, it would eliminate the private market for abortion coverage.
“The sponsor of this legislation, the Gentleman from New Jersey, has been very clear about his purpose. When he introduced this bill, he cited a study by the Guttmacher Institute that showed a decline in the rate of abortions by approximately 25% when funding is cut off. What that proves is that economic coercion works. This bill takes that to a whole new level by going after the private insurance and health care markets.
“It is an unprecedented attack on women, families, and their rights under the constitution.Let’s not pretend this is about government funding.”

I applaud Rep. Nadler and Senator Boxer for taking a strong, clear, principled stand on this but... yes but... there's a problem. Easy to make this into some partisan battle-- especially easy because every single Republican, even the women, are going along with this cynical ploy. But to bury one's head in the Beltway sands and refuse to acknowledge that there are also right-wing, anti-Choice Democrats giving the GOP cover and adding their voices to the hatred, confuses the whole issue. These conservative misogynistsand Blue Dogs who are backing Boehner and his claque need to be called out-- loud and clear. In fact, this "Republican bill," has 10 Democratic co-sponsors, most of them notorious Boehner Boys:

Dan Boren (Blue Dog-OK)
Jerry Costello (IL)
Mark Critz (PA)
Joe Donnelly (Blue Dog-IN)
Daniel Lipinski (IL)
Mike McIntyre (Blue Dog-NC)
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)
Nick Rahall (WV)
Mike Ross (Blue Dog-AR)
Heath Shuler (Blue Dog-NC)

Rachel doesn't mention them either-- but she should take a look at what Gillibrand wrote, diplomatically, at HuffPo the other day:
I pledge to you that, just as we did with the Stupak Amendment, we will organize our fellow Senators to make sure we defeat this legislation. Can I count on you to join us in this fight to make sure Republicans and some conservative Democrats don't succeed in chipping away at a woman's right to choose even further than they already have?

Yep; she went there-- something so few Democrats have had the balls to do. But as AC/DC said, she's got... This, from her press conference yesterday is good: "If the Republican Party doesn't believe that 51% of America deserves equal rights in this country, then they will have a fight from at least the people standing behind me and many many more." But calling out treacherous misogynist religious nuts inside the Democratic caucus like Heath Shuler and Mike Ross is really going to bat for what you believe in.

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At 11:00 AM, Anonymous Arcana said...

I read on that there will be blocks on access to mammograms. I tried looking up more facts on this but I can't find anything anywhere that says that HR3 will do this. Have you heard anything?


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