Tuesday Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives voted to force a woman to have the baby of a rapist, a policy supported by Mitt Romney. Yesterday women in America gained greater control over their health care choices thanks to an expanded list of no-cost preventive health services available to women under Obamacare, from domestic violence counseling to contraception. Mitt Romney and the Republicans have repeatedly said they would repeal these benefits.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 86 million Americans are already receiving no-cost preventive care. On Wednesday the law added eight more preventive services to the list of benefits women can receive without co-pays and deductibles. Access to affordable care puts women in charge of their health, bodies and lives.
Remarkably, instead of applauding this advancement in women's health, the House honored the event by attempting to deny women in the District of Columbia the choice to end a pregnancy after 20 weeks that is the result of rape or incest, or that even threatens a woman's health.
In the Senate, on the occasion of Obamacare's latest success on behalf of families, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell decided it was a fine time to ask for another vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
But McConnell has a lot of catching up to do. The House has already voted to repeal or defund Obamacare 33 times. That's a worrisome fact on its own. Republicans continue to ignore the issues that matter -- creating good jobs, ending the Bush tax breaks for the richest 2 percent, protecting Medicare and Medicaid -- to play their naked partisan games. Pandering to the Tea Party is how Republican leaders in Congress waste time today and provides a preview of what a Romney administration would look like.
While we're accustomed to anti-abortion rhetoric from the right, consider this: the new normal for Republican politics is to deny women access to abortion even in the case of rape, incest, or threats to a woman's health. That's immoral and downright scary. It's part of a movement within the Republican Party that includes "personhood" proposals like the one in Mississippi and the wildly invasive and offensive proposed transvaginal ultrasound requirement in Virginia that crosses any line of human decency (an only slightly less objectionable version became law).
The gulf between the Republicans and the Democrats couldn't get any wider -- on women's health and every other consequential issue.
The Republicans want to take away all the important cost-saving benefits and consumer protections of the Affordable Care Act. They want to privatize Social Security, dismantle Medicaid and eliminate Medicare as we know it. They want a government that's small enough to starve the poor, shrink the middle class and deny support to small businesses, yet big enough to regulate who we can love and marry. They want a government that rewards companies that move jobs overseas and banks that take advantage of their customers. And they want a government with enough reach to tell a woman, her doctor and her family what to do about private medical decisions. The Republicans and their corporate sponsors believe we should all be on our own to fend for ourselves. That's a second-rate vision for a first rate country.
As progressive Democrats we have a different vision of the world. We believe that work should be rewarded and workers treated with dignity and respect. We believe in the right of workers to build unions to bargain for a better life and help preserve and expand the middle class. We believe in an America where there is shared prosperity and equal opportunity for everyone to achieve their potential. We also believe in a government that does things we can't do ourselves to improve our quality of life. We believe in pitching in and helping each other out.
The Republicans have a strategic, electoral weapon to advance the agenda of the wealthiest one percent and special interests: their systematic effort to deny the vote of the elderly, young people, communities of color and others through the most obscene voter suppression efforts since the days of Jim Crow.
The Republicans are trying to block the votes of those they most want to leave behind. We can't let that happen. The stakes are too high this November for us to do anything but rock the vote like never before.