In recent days, women's advocates have been strikingly hushed. It seems that women's health is under assault and there's not a damn thing we can do about it. Even feminist leader Ellen Malcolm resigned from the organization she founded in seeming disgust as her candidates acquiesced. All this has left me to ponder: who will be our modern day Eleanor Roosevelt?
Could it be Martha Coakley? Coakley has an impeccable list of accomplishments, to accompany her character and courage. And in a strange twist of political fate, might Coakley need to be Women's One in order to salvage her political career?
As we enter 2010, the only political certainty is uncertainty. Last month, when Coakley won the Democratic primary in Massachusetts' special election to fill Ted Kennedy's open senate seat, conventional wisdom was that she was a shoe in to be senator. Yet, as the January 19 election approaches, USA Today reports that Republicans are looking for an upset. Why? A "no" vote for health care reform from this Massachusetts' senate seat would take away Reid's magic 60.
As we know, unlikely bedfellows are uniting in opposition to Obama's health care reform. Independent bloggers who oppose health care reform see MA Republican candidate Scott Brown as their best hope to shoot it down. Former Hillary Clinton supporters who were pro-Coakley last month, now are signing up to phone bank for Republican Scott Brown here and here in an effort to defeat health care. Even a lifelong women's advocate informed me this week that she was backing Brown to shoot down Stupak/Nelson. Strange days indeed.
Which is why Martha Coakley should seize on this moment. Coakley should change her position and run against health care reform. In doing so, not only will she cement a win in Massachusetts, but also establish herself as a modern day Eleanor Roosevelt at a time when women are desperate for leadership.
Without an Eleanor, women's health is in danger. Threats to our health are quickly becoming a reality. Mammogram coverage for women in their 40s has already been chipped away. This week, a group of nine Republican Congresswomen sent an Open Letter to President Obama which states:
In California, the eligibility age for state-subsidized breast cancer screening has been raised from 40 to 50 by the state government, which will also temporarily stop enrollment in the breast cancer screening program.
For thousands of struggling women in California, the task force recommendations have quickly metastasized from a suggestion to an edict.
That's just the start. Pap smears (cervical cancer) guidelines are also under review. And if health care reform passes, the Democrats will deliver us the biggest setback to Roe v. Wade since it became the law of the land.
So here's a plea Martha: Lead us. And if you do, we will have your back!
We know you have the character. You stood by Hillary Clinton when she tried to make history. While Kennedy, Kerry and Patrick backed the "agent of change", you stood by the voters of Massachusetts until the bitter end.
We know you have the courage. You've been fighting for women and children throughout your career. You've had to make tough choices that have defined you and led you to this moment.
We know you have the credentials. An impeccable resume of schooling, public life and volunteer work.
And now, save yourself and save the women of this country. As Eleanor would say: As for accomplishments, I just did what I had to do as things came along.
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