From breast pumps to Big Bird, and from food stamps to family planning, the GOP is waging a war on America’s women and children. Full-fledged Republican battles against women now include anti-abortion bills, anti-contraception efforts, bills that literally would allow women to die in hospitals across America to protect “conscience rights” of doctors, attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, and GOP-sponsored bills that reduce, hamper, or even attempt to eliminate women’s constitutional rights to abortion and reproductive health services.
Yes, despite the fact that 64% of Americans say unemployment and the economy in general are “the most important problems facing this country today,” the GOP has chosen to focus on effectively eliminating the constitutional right to abortion.
The New York Times reports, “A comprehensive global study of abortion has concluded that abortion rates are similar in countries where it is legal and those where it is not, suggesting that outlawing the procedure does little to deter women seeking it,” and adds, “the researchers found that abortion was safe in countries where it was legal, but dangerous in countries where it was outlawed and performed clandestinely.”
The Times quotes Dr. Paul Van Look, director of the W.H.O. Department of Reproductive Health and Research, as saying, “What we see is that the law does not influence a woman’s decision to have an abortion. If there’s an unplanned pregnancy, it does not matter if the law is restrictive or liberal.” Van Look adds, “Generally, where abortion is legal it will be provided in a safe manner… And the opposite is also true: where it is illegal, it is likely to be unsafe, performed under unsafe conditions by poorly trained providers.”
Not satisfied at attempting to end abortion, however, Republicans are attempting right now to end entire programs that provide food and health services to five million low-income Americans.
Republicans are even proposing “personhood” bills, which declare as a full-fledged human the two cells joined at the instant of conception – effectively outlawing abortion. Eliminating abortion is so far ahead of everything else on the Republican agenda — despite Speaker of the House John Boehner’s promise to focus on jobs — that they’re even willing to pass legislation that might make it legal to murder an abortion provider. And all this on the heels of the GOP’s attempt to redefine rape. And like something out of The Onion, or “Saturday Night Live,” there is even a Republican battle on breast pumps.
Yes, breast pumps. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has decided to attack First Lady Michelle Obama, the government’s role in health care, the President’s policies, and the needy, by saying, “I’ve given birth to five babies and I breast-fed every single one of these babies,” Bachmann said on Laura Ingraham’s radio show. “To think that government has to go out and buy my breast pump for my babies. I mean, you want to talk about the nanny state?”
But even her own state residents disagree. “The government isn’t buying nursing women breast pumps (nor telling them they must buy them),” writes Susan Perry in the Minnesota Post. “The IRS is simply permitting women to purchase a pump and other breast-feeding supplies with their flexible spending accounts — as they can now buy other health-related items, such as hearing aids, contact-lens solution and over-the-counter pain relievers.”
Children are not exempt from the GOP wrath either. Right now, a Republican lawmaker in Missouri has proposed a bill “eliminating the prohibition on employment of children under 14.” Marcus Baram in The Huffington Post says that state Senator Jane Cunningham “defends the bill, saying that it’s important to cultivate a work ethic in young people.”
Shameful. If parents want to “cultivate a work ethic” in their young children, let them cut the grass, get a paper route, volunteer at the local library, walk the neighbor’s dog, or babysit.
Of course, after gutting child labor laws, what do you think is the next logical move? Yup. Repealing minimum wage laws. There are currently Republican-led attempts to repeal minimum wage laws now in (at least) Nevada and Missouri, as well as a national conversation taking place across America.
Citing an op-ed in a local Massachusetts newspaper that the “free market” should determine wages, a letter to the editor titled, “Where’s GOP concern for US workers?,” sarcastically mocks the idea. “He suggests that the federal minimum wage law be eliminated and that the free market determine that wage, which he feels could be $7 per hour rather than $8 and therefore create more jobs. But why stop there? Just think how many jobs could be created if minimum wages fell to $5 or even $3. And, as he implies, if we cut back or eliminate paid sick days and some paid time off for personal needs, employers would be able to hire more workers.”
A New York Times editorial this week calls the GOP’s focus “out of control,” and asks, “Are there any adults in charge of the House?”
“On Tuesday, the House began debating the list of proposed cuts, and more than 500 amendments were filed, mostly from Republicans trying to cut still more out of — or end — programs they dislike. One would stop paying dues to the United Nations. Others would cut all financing for the health care reform law, or Planned Parenthood, or any foreign aid to a country that regularly disagrees with the United States at the United Nations.”
The United Nations is one of the most important institutions women and children have. Whatever its shortcomings, the United Nations helps provide food to millions of women and children, specifically. It is unconscionable for the GOP to attempt to deny them the small amount of funding we do.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, last week called these efforts by the GOP “short-sighted.” The American Foreign Press writes, “According to the ambassador, out of every dollar paid in tax by Americans 34 cents goes to Social Security and Medicare, 22 cents to national security and just one tenth of a cent on UN dues.”
But taking food out of the mouths of women and children is not the only overseas mission Republicans have. The GOP is attempting to “eliminate the $440 million in funding for the State Department, foreign operations, and related programs “for international population control, family planning, and reproductive health.”
Typical. Republicans time and again want to do something and ignore the consequences. But taking money out of the mouths of women and children, and taking money out of family planning services is a one-two punch that adds up to insanity.
Back here in the U.S., Barbara Bush, wife of George H.W. Bush, took Republican Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, to task. Writing an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle, “We can’t afford to cut education,” the former First Lady cited Texas’ embarrassing statistics, including ranking “49th in verbal SAT scores, 47th in literacy and 46th in average math SAT scores,” and “36th in the nation in high school graduation rates.” She adds, “An estimated 3.8 million Texans do not have a high school diploma.”
Mrs. Bush then asks, “In light of these statistics, can we afford to cut the number of teachers, increase class sizes, eliminate scholarships for underprivileged students and close several community colleges?”
Gail Collins of The New York Times picked this up and wrote in response, “You may not be surprised to hear that Governor Perry has rejected new taxes. He’s also currently refusing $830 million in federal aid to education because the Democratic members of Congress from Texas — ticked off because Perry used $3.2 billion in stimulus dollars for schools to plug other holes in his budget — put in special language requiring that this time Texas actually use the money for the kids.”
Collins continues, writing, “the Perry government is a huge fan of the deeply ineffective abstinence-only sex education. Texas gobbles up more federal funds than any other state for the purpose of teaching kids that the only way to avoid unwanted pregnancies is to avoid sex entirely,” and reveals that Texas “refused to accept federal money for more expansive, “evidence-based” programs.”
Calling House Republican leaders’ cuts “draconian,” and “devastating to women and girls at every stage of their lives,” Nancy Duff Campbell, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center, writing in The Hill, says, “The same House Republican leaders who voted to extend lavish tax breaks for the very wealthiest are now insisting that those who can least afford it sacrifice the most.”
She details some of the cuts Republicans want to make to the federal budget this year, and she’s kind when she calls them “draconian.”
Many Americans aren’t aware of a forty-one year-old federal program called Title X, which House Republicans want to scrap. Why? Because it provides funding to five million low-income women and children in the form of family planning (which Republicans hear solely as “abortion,”) contraception, and health care.
The Republican bill in the House, according to Campbell, “gouges key federal early learning investments—Head Start, Early Head Start and the Child Care Development Block Grant,” and “slashes funding for programs that promote the health of pregnant women, infants and young children,” including programs that provide “food, counseling and other supports to millions of low-income pregnant women, new mothers and infants.”
Those new mothers and infants may be mighty surprised to learn that the GOP is also waging war on Big Bird. Yes, the GOP wants to pull the plug on PBS. Claiming, “public broadcasting’s furry friends are political animals,” ultra-conservative Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina says that in Washington, D.C., “Sesame Street turns into K Street and Elmo is a lobbyist.” DeMint exposes his irrational fears. “At this rate, Americans can expect Big Bird to start filming commercials to hype ObamaCare.”
DeMint and the rest of his Republican friends have a plan to prevent that too. The House is doing everything it can to repeal “Obamacare.” And if they can’t repeal health care reform, they can sure defund it. And they’re trying.
Yes, the Republicans have gone overboard, and are attacking women and children, and those least able to help themselves. Ironically, and sadistically, the fact is that Republican efforts will lead to even more needy women and children, literally left out in the cold, un-fed, un-educated, without health care, or a future.
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