Today is International Women's Day. The purpose of the day is to mark the economic, political, and social achievements of women. It's hard not to mark the occasion without a hint of irony, as Republicans in Texas and across the country work tirelessly to roll back women's rights.
Republicans' foremost goal over the last year and a half, has been to take women back to what they must consider the “good old days” — before safe, legal abortion; before widely accessible birth control; before prenatal testing; before we had control of our bodies and as a result control of our lives. Make no mistake — Republicans want to make the “Second Sex” into a permanent second class.
Republicans hold hearings on our own private healthcare decisions, and don't bother to let any women speak up on the topic. Republicans force women to undergo unnecessary transvaginal probing, and force women's doctors to recite unnecessary ideological claptrap to their patients. Republicans slash 66% from the family planning budget, then decide if they can't exclude the largest provider of care within the Women's Health Program from receiving funds, they'll just shut down the entire program, no matter the cost in women's lives.
Today, on International Women's Day, there's no reason for women to be celebrating here in Texas — our rights and our basic access to healthcare is under attack.
- 25% of Texas women are uninsured, the highest rate of uninsured women in the country.
- Texas has the 3rd highest rate of cervical cancer in the country — an easily diagnosed and treated disease if women have access to care.
- In 2011, Rick Perry signed a budget that slashed funding for women's health by 66%, resulting in 180,000 women losing access to preventative care.
- By banning Planned Parenthood from receiving funds through Medicare's Women's Health Program, Perry will cause another 130,000 women to lose access to basic care.
- This program Republicans are eliminating saves the state $42 million a year by preventing unwanted pregnancies.
It sure is a great time to be a woman in Texas! Yee haw!
It's just as bad across the country. In 2011, states passed 83 laws restricting access to abortion, due to the new wave of Republicans elected in 2010. States are banning abortion after 20 weeks, implementing procedural hurdles including mandatory sonograms and waiting periods, and banning private insurance plans from covering abortions — talk about Big Government!
And it's just going to get worse for women before next year's International Women's Day.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, 430 abortion restrictions have been introduced in state legislatures just this year. And it's only March! Yet again I'm thankful the Texas legislature only meets every other year — less chance to mess with Texas women.
Meanwhile, the Republican presidential candidates compete to see who can be more extreme in their opposition to women's health. Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich all want to defund Planned Parenthood, the leading provider of healthcare to low-income women; they support “personhood” amendments that make a fertilized egg equivalent to a
person corporation; and all but Romney signed a pledge that they would only appoint anti-choice individuals to key governmental positions. Rick Santorum is by far the most extreme, opposing abortion even in the case of rape or incest, and supporting the rights of states to ban birth control, even amongst married couples. (Again with the Big Government!) He thinks that birth control harms women and society. And of course, none of them want insurance companies to provide a co-pay for said birth control, oh my heavens no!
Make no mistake: Republicans are trying to destroy women's access to basic healthcare, and limit our ability to use our reproductive rights. And they're doing it for political gain, regardless of the actual cost in human lives to women and their families.
Today, in honor of International Women's Day, Burnt Orange Report is devoting our coverage to the Republican War on Women. This is a war on women's access to healthcare, it's a war on access to basic reproductive services, it's an war on women's abilities to control our own bodies, and as a result our own lives.
Enough is enough!