When Michigan's Republicans vote to take away critically important healthcare options from women, options that provide life-saving care they would otherwise lack, that's bad enough. When those same Republicans silence the voices of female opposition during the debate, telling them that their opinions don't matter on legislation that directly impacts them, that's simply disgraceful.
As has been widely reported by now, Republicans in Michigan's House of Representative voted to pass a bill this past week that has been labeled as the biggest attack on women's healthcare in the country by national watch groups. Their broad intent was quite clear -- to shut down every women's health clinic in Michigan that provides abortion counseling services -- but the impact would be far worse. By shutting down these clinics, this legislation would prevent thousands of low-income women from receiving cancer screenings, prenatal care and other lifesaving treatments they would be otherwise unable to afford.
While the passage of this legislation made headlines on its own, the Republicans involved created a national firestorm when they went so far as to ban two female legislators from speaking because they had the audacity to use the word "vagina" during the debate about this legislation that impacts the health of women's bodies. When asked to further clarify their punishment, a spokesperson for the Republicans said it was because these female legislators were having "temper tantrums."
Yes, this is apparently what passes for strong leadership among Michigan Republicans.
Clearly, as a woman, a proud female legislator and a mother of two amazing young girls, I found their actions to be disgraceful, but it's important we not overlook the disastrous impact these legislative attacks on women's healthcare would have on Michigan's already struggling economic recovery as well.
As they pass legislation that takes away affordable healthcare options and allows insurance companies to deny care, it takes money out of the pockets of hardworking families around the state and drives up costs for all of us. It forces low and middle income families to choose between paying for the medical care they need and spending their resources on the goods and services that drive Michigan's economy. In short, their misguided rush to take away our healthcare choices would not only take money out of the pockets of women and our families, but out of our neighborhoods, our small businesses and our state's recovery efforts.
Unfortunately, since I doubt that many of the Republicans that rushed to pass this legislation even gave the health of Michigan's women much thought, I don't think that they considered the cost to our state's economy or our family's savings accounts either.
We all deserve better than this from our elected officials and as Mitt Romney tours Michigan this week, he owes it to women across our state to explain how he differs from Michigan's own Republican leaders. He needs to tell us how women would have an opportunity to speak up and influence the policies he would create that most directly impact us and he must make it clear that he believes this type of behavior that silences women's voices and puts politics over the good of our people and our state is wrong.
The nation is paying close attention to what's happening in Michigan and we have an opportunity to stand against this and make our voices heard. Eve Ensler, the Tony Award winning playwright, will be traveling to Michigan on Monday June 18, for a special performance of her award winning play The Vagina Monologues on the steps of Michigan's Capitol. The performance, which will take place between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., is an opportunity for supporters to come together and tell these Republicans that we will stand together, we will be heard, and if you can't even stand to hear the word vagina, you most definitely shouldn't be legislating them.
I look forward to seeing a great crowd there and I know that together we can finally end this war on women for the good of our sisters, our daughters and all of Michigan.