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 â€œthe 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 quotesÂ Dr. Paul Van Look, director of the W.H.O. Department of Reproductive Health and Research, as saying, â€œWhat we see is that the law does not influence a womanâ€™s decision to have an abortion. If thereâ€™s an unplanned pregnancy, it does not matter if the law is restrictive or liberal.â€ Van Look adds, â€œGenerally, where abortion is legal it will be provided in a safe manner…Â And the opposite is also true: where it is illegal, it is likely to be unsafe, performed under unsafe conditions by poorly trained providers.â€
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 –Â 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, â€œIâ€™ve given birth to five babies and I breast-fed every single one of these babies,â€ Bachmann said on Laura Ingraham’s radio show. â€œTo 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 isnâ€™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 theirÂ flexible spending accounts â€” 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)Â Nevada andÂ Missouri, as well as a national conversation taking place across America.
Citing an op-ed in a local Massachusetts newspaperÂ that the “free market” should determine wages, a letter to the editor titled, “Where’s GOP concern for US workers?,”Â 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, andÂ more than 500 amendments were filed, mostly from Republicans trying to cut still more out of â€” or end â€” programs they dislike.Â One would stop paying dues to the United Nations.Â 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 â€œfor international population control, family planning, and reproductive health.â€
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 verbalÂ SAT scores, 47th in literacy and 46th in average math SAT scores,” andÂ “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. Heâ€™s also currently refusing $830 million in federal aid to education because the Democratic members of Congress from Texas â€” ticked off because Perry used $3.2 billion in stimulus dollars for schools to plug other holes in his budget â€” 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, â€œevidence-basedâ€ programs.”
Calling House Republican leaders’ cuts “draconian,” and “devastating to women and girls at every stage of their lives,”Â Nancy Duff Campbell, co-president of the National Womenâ€™s Law Center,Â writing in The Hill,Â 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 investmentsâ€”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 broadcastingâ€™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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‘When Was Your Most Recent Period?’: Student Athletes in Florida May Be Required to Share Menstrual History
For the past two decades teenaged women participating in Florida high school athletics have been asked to submit their menstrual history, including the date of their first period, the date of their last period, and how many periods they have had in the last 12 months. The board of directors of the Florida High School Athletic Association, the organization in charge of coordinating high school athletics in the Sunshine State, will debate later this month if they will make divulging that information mandatory for participating in sports. According to the FHSAA website that board is comprised of 14 men and two women. Not one is a physician or medical professional.
Critics are voicing concerns over a variety of issues, including the right to privacy, the need for the highly personal medical information, who has access to it, how it is stored, and how it could be used against the students, including to determine possible pregnancy, miscarriage, abortion, or if the athlete is transgender.
“Many parents and doctors are worried that schools will use the menstrual data to monitor students for late or missed periods, a possible sign of pregnancy, or to out transgender students by watching for girls who don’t get periods or boys who do,” The New Republic reports, calling it “a terrifying glimpse of our dystopian post-Roe world.”
The three-page form, called the Preparticipation Physical Evaluation, asks:
“When was your first menstrual period?” “When was your most recent menstrual period? “How much time do you usually have from the start of one period to the start of another?” “How many periods have you had in the last year? and “What was the longest time between periods in the last year?”
A draft form slightly alters the questions, asking instead, “Have you had a menstrual period?” and “How old were you when you had your first menstrual period?” in addition to the other three questions.
While it currently states answering is optional, at the end of this month those questions could become mandatory, although the reason for the possible change has not been disclosed.
Because the information is not being given by the athletes to a physician or other medical professional or organization, the information is not subject to HIPAA regulations. And in some school districts the inform action is stored on a third-party platform, possibly exposing it to other entities.
“This is clearly an effort to further stigmatize and demonize transgender people in sports [and] meant to further exclude people who aren’t assigned female at birth in girls sports,” the president of PRISM, a South Florida nonprofit organization that provides sexual health information to LGBTQ+ youth, Maxx Fenning, told The Tampa Bay Times. “Beyond that, I think there’s concern among LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ [students] alike. This is an extremely invasive mode of gleaning into someone’s reproductive history, which is especially dangerous in this post-Roe world we live in.”
TIME adds that critics “have noted that this policy would be a major challenge for transgender athletes who may have to out themselves with their responses to the questions. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis approved a bill last year—which is currently under legal fire—that bans transgender female students from playing on women and girls’ sports teams.”
According to the fan-checking site Snopes, “these written forms with students’ medical information are submitted to school officials, contrary to a number of other states where only a doctor’s signature is required to clear an athlete for play.”
Snopes adds that “concerns grew as many states worked to criminalize abortions after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and transgender athletes faced scrutiny. In Florida, abortions are banned after 15 weeks, with only a few exceptions.”
“Any forms (physical or digital) could be subpoenaed. Meanwhile, in Palm Beach County, nearly all athlete-registration forms moved online, which meant reproductive data for athletes was being stored by a third-party software company called Aktivate. Other counties were also planning to digitize their forms.”
Last October NBC News reported that an Aktivate spokesperson said a student’s information could be removed but only with parental and school district consent.
Image via Shutterstock
George Santos Says Man Interviewed for Staff Position ‘Violated’ His Trust After Secretly Recording Conversation
The freshman New York Republican lawmaker who is believed to be under multiple DOJ and local investigations, suggests the candidate handed the recordings over to Talking Points Memo, and says he expects an article will be published there Thursday evening, after the news site contacted his office.
“According to Santos, his office had been in the process of hiring Derek Myers for a position, but paused when they saw he faces wiretapping charges in Ohio after publishing recorded court testimony — obtained from a source, he said — as part of a story for a small newspaper,” Semafor reports. “FIRE, a nonprofit advocacy group dedicated to First Amendment issues, has defended Myers, arguing local authorities in the state were criminalizing legitimate journalism.”
“While they said they expect the audio will just show them questioning him about his specific circumstances, it’s unknown if he recorded other exchanges.”
Regardless, Santos is taking action.
The GOP congressman accursed of deceiving his constituents with countlessly false claims that helped get him elected, says he is going to report Myers to the Biden administration, claiming he has a White House press pass.
Santos says he wants Myers’ White House press pass to be revoked, after Myers, the congressman says, claimed to have one.
“He should have that revoked if it’s true, if it’s even remotely true he has it,” Santos told Semafor.
It’s not known if Myers does, and if so it’s unlikely it’s a permanent hard pass. It’s also unlikely it would be revoked if Myers did not break the law.
Semafor adds in Washington, D.C. it is legal to record your own conversation with another party without obtaining their consent.
‘They’re Not Taking My Gas Stove’: Joe Manchin Teams Up With Hard Core Republicans to Promote False Claims
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) is again promoting the false claim that the federal government is planning to remove gas stoves from private homes, after news last month revealed once more the open-flame appliances are responsible for hundreds of thousands of cases of children’s asthma.
“They’re not taking my gas stove out,” said Manchin, who has made millions from coal and protects his state – which ranks in the top five for production of natural gas – at every turn.
Manchin, a rare breed of conservative Democrat, announced in a Senate hearing on Thursday that he is teaming up with Republican Senators Ted Cruz and James Lankford to fuel the unfounded fears of the federal government coming to rip gas stoves out of Americans’ homes – fears promoted by the right.
“Gas stoves have been in the news lately and I’ve come out strongly against the Consumer Product Safety Commission pursuing any ban of gas stoves,” Manchin declared, despite there being no possibility of that. “In fact, I’m introducing legislation today with Senator Cruz that would ensure that they don’t and separately sending a letter to the commission with Senator Lankford.”
“I’ve always been a proponent of energy efficiency,” Manchin continued, “but the draft proposes efficiency levels that DOE [Dept. of Energy] says at the highest level, up to 96% of gas stoves don’t currently meet. I don’t like where I think they’re going with this and I tell you one thing, they’re not taking my gas stove put. My wife and I would both be upset.”
Manchin went on the claim the Biden administration is “looking to find ways to push out natural gas.”
And he warned the feds to stay out of his kitchen.
“Like I said before,” Manchin declared, “the federal government doesn’t have any business telling American families how to cook their dinner.”
The federal government does have a responsibility, by law, to warn Americans of health and safety issues in their homes. For decades it has been doing just that.
But the West Virginia Senator went even further, stating: “retrofitting or removing stoves that people have had for years is not going to happen.”
Manchin isn’t just blowing smoke – he has a lot at stake in the “gas stove war.”
“West Virginia is the fourth-largest producer of marketed natural gas in the nation,” according to a federal government December report.
“At every step of his political career, Joe Manchin helped a West Virginia power plant that is the sole customer of his private coal business. Along the way, he blocked ambitious climate action,” The New York Times reported last year. It called the West Virginia Democrat “the single most important figure shaping the nation’s energy and climate policy.”
Watch Sen. Manchin below or at this link.
“They’re not taking my gas stove out!” pic.twitter.com/P4zFGC6Kqp
— CSPAN (@cspan) February 2, 2023
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