In the Middle: Republicans waging war on women?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I get all kinds of emails from all kinds of people and organizations. Last week I got one from MoveOn.org, a liberal political group, and the subject line, "Shocking," caught my eye.

The first line says Republicans have declared war on women. Here comes a load of hyperbole, I thought, but as I read on I was more and more disturbed. Who voted for these people, and did they know what they would try to do once they took office?

Here are some highlights of what some lawmakers in Washington are attempting to do:

*Rep. Bobby Franklin of Georgia wants to change the legal term for victims of rape, stalking, and domestic violence to "accuser" until there is a conviction in the matter. But victims of other less gendered crimes, like burglary, would remain "victims."

*In South Dakota, a bill sponsored by state Rep. Phil Jensen would alter the state's legal definition of justifiable homicide by allowing a pregnant woman's relatives to legally kill a doctor who performs an abortion.

No matter what your position on abortion -- and I'm not opening that can of worms for discussion on this page -- what we're talking about here is legalized murder.

* Republicans want to cut nearly a billion dollars of food and other aid to low-income pregnant women, mothers, babies, and kids.

This is just so obvious it really was to be expected. Pick on the weak and powerless; babies and kids can't vote and many low-income women are relatively uneducatd and probably don't bother to vote, which makes them the perfect targets, doesn't it?

* In Congress, Republicans have proposed a bill that would let hospitals allow a woman to die rather than perform an abortion necessary to save her life.

Again, side-stepping the abortion issue, obviously if a pregnant woman dies, so does her baby. How are two deaths better than one?

* Maryland Republicans ended all county money for a low-income kids' preschool program. Why? No need, they said. Women should really be home with the kids, not out working.

Yes, that old fallacy is still out there. What it ignores -- still -- is that most families and certainly single parents can't afford to stay home and take care of the kids. Somebody has to make the money to feed and clothe them and give them a roof over their heads.

* At the federal level, Republicans want to cut that same program, Head Start, by $1 billion. That means more than 200,000 kids could lose their spots in preschool.

* Two-thirds of the elderly poor are women, and Republicans are taking aim at them, too. A spending bill would cut funding for employment services, meals, and housing for senior citizens.

* Congress voted last week on a Republican amendment to cut all federal funding from Planned Parenthood health centers, one of the most trusted providers of basic health care and family planning in our country.

* Republicans are pushing to eliminate all funds for the only federal family planning program. (For humans. But Republican Dan Burton has a bill to provide contraception for wild horses.)

So let's sum up: funding is to be cut from programs that feed and help the elderly, babies, children, pregnant women, and low-income women. Funding for family planning, including Planned Parenthood centers, is to be cut, so that will result in more pregnant women, who are supposed to stay home and take care of their children. But there will be no help from the federal government for them in the form of food supplements or preschool programs.

If a pregnant woman is suffering from a life-threatening disease or injury and aborting the fetus would insure her survival, she better hope she's in the right hospital or they'll both die.

And in South Dakota, it's open season on abortion providers.

How is any of this making this a better country to live in? Who, exactly, will benefit from these changes? The rich, obviously, who get to keep their tax cuts. But how does this help the middle and working class people out there struggling to survive in a depressed economy?

Our legislators are wasting a huge amount of time and energy focusing on their pet peeves and twisted beliefs instead of actually coming up with productive solutions to get us out of this hole they've dug for us.

It's more of the same: Take from the poor, those who lack power and a voice, and give to the rich, who have political influence, or can buy it.

Is this really what we voted for?