You heard me. If the federal government closes because lawmakers can’t agree on whether women should be allowed to get annual physical exams, contraceptives or cervical cancer screenings, they’ll blame it on us because we want low-income women to have access to important health services. Both sides in the federal budget fight agree that there is only one sticking point left in this prolonged debate — whether or not to defund Planned Parenthood.
Many politicians on the right claim they’re just standing strong against their belief that there should be no government money for abortion. But the thing is this — they’re lying. No federal funds go to Planned Parenthood for abortion, but they want you to believe that so they can shut down the rest of the health services many women receive there. They think that if they say it loud enough and long enough, that if they pound the tables and shake their heads as they roll their eyes on cable news shows, that we’ll believe they’re taking a moral stand about life, even though there isn’t a shred of truth to their budget ruse.
One thing is clear and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (though she will always be Madam Speaker to me) said it best just this week — the GOP is trying to use the budget process to advance its social war on women.
Some of these Republicans are devious, but they aren’t stupid. They know they’re in the process of putting one over on the voters (and the wishy-washy Democrats) for the sake of their long-range social agenda of turning back the clock on women. They aren’t trying to save unborn babies. They’re striving to make it harder for women to control their lives, enter the workforce and support their families. Because they know that if they keep throwing up roadblocks for women, then maybe the little ladies will just give up and stay home with the kids, allowing those jobs to go to men — men like them.
GOP efforts to control women’s lives and bodies are on a dual track. They’re using substantive legislation and budget battles as a two-pronged approach to advance their war on social values. Women are the last pawns in this year’s budget showdown and it’s just an artifice for the march by the political right — mostly white men –who want to keep women at home, out of the workforce, and out of the jobs that they think men should have.
The Planned Parenthood red herring isn’t the only evidence of the GOP assault on women. We’ve seen it in the attack on labor unions and collective bargaining in states like Wisconsin, where police and firefighters — traditionally male jobs — will still be able to bargain collectively, but nurses and teachers — traditionally women’s jobs — would lose that right. We’ve seen it in the efforts to defeat the Paycheck Fairness Act which would require employers to pay women the same as men for the same job. And there’s virtually no support for expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act or increased amounts of paid sick leave for workers. Who usually has to take the time off from work to care for children and lose income because of that? Women, not men.
Let’s be clear. Those on the far right of the political spectrum want you to think that the dollars that go to Planned Parenthood for cancer screenings and access to contraception are somehow going to be the downfall of the Republic. They want us to be convinced that the social fabric of America will unravel if they don’t put a stop to the ability of women to be the final decision makers about their own reproductive lives. And they’ll do pretty much anything in their power to achieve their goals.
If the Republicans win this budget battle — if President Obama and the Democrats allow the Republicans to win this — women better start hoarding their Pills, their sponges, and their IUDs, and they’d better have a nest egg for mammograms, Pap smears, and other cancer screening tests. Because if the Republicans win this war against Planned Parenthood, they’re not going to stop there.
Sadly, the conversation on cable news is this — are the Democrats really going to furlough 800,000 federal workers over a measly $300 million for Planned Parenthood? The underlying suggestion is unmistakable that a few prescriptions for birth control pills and some Pap screenings shouldn’t shut the government down and if Democrats allow that, they’re being irresponsible. The thing they’re missing is this — next year, it will be something else. If Planned Parenthood is gone, then the next GOP “budget” chip will be funding for children –Congressman Paul Ryan has already made it clear that’s the target he has his eye on as the chair of the House Budget Committee. And they will keep chipping away at the programs that benefit women and children until their social agenda has been fulfilled.
I’m not a particularly religious person, but I do believe there’s a special place in hell for those who lie and create false constructs that put women’s lives at risk to achieve their unstated, but unmistakable, goals.