This is a warning to Republicans politicians: women are watching you! Whether you are running for president, Congress or for the state legislature, you may be feeling very self righteous and comfortable, kind of like the old days when men were men and free to say things out loud about women that for years now have been relegated to locker rooms. Like that funny Rush Limbaugh who said, "If we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch." Ha!
And even though the dispensing of contraceptives has been legal since 1966, you may think the time is just right to make it controversial once again. But I have news for you. The women are paying attention, and we are not laughing.
We don't appreciate that 48 of you, including every single Republican except for Olympia Snowe, (who is fed up enough with you to quit the Senate), voted for Senator Roy Blunt's ridiculous amendment that would allow any employer and any insurance company to refuse to cover any health care service for his employees for "moral" reasons -- his moral reasons. The boss could refuse to cover not only birth control, but care for AIDS or the health of a child born out of wedlock, or whatever violated his religious or moral beliefs.
For a brief second, we thought that Mitt Romney had come to his senses on this issue and was opposed to the Blunt amendment. No, he said, he didn't support it -- until he did -- one hour later. He barely had time to flip before he flopped! Well, he didn't understand the question, he said. And, of course he supported it, now that he understood it -- understood where the far right-wing Republicans stood. You may think you redeemed yourself, Mitt. But I am warning you. You would be wrong.
I hosted a Speak Out on contraception last week along with my colleague, Congressman Mike Quigley. We invited women and men to hear a panel of experts on the subject of prescription contraceptives and morality: a doctor, a Baptist Minister, two young women who needed contraceptives primarily for health reasons, a Catholic for Choice, a lawyer, and the President of Planned Parenthood of Illinois -- six women and one man -- just about right for a panel on women's access to birth control and a stark contrast to the men-only panel the Republicans invited to the House of Representatives.
We held the Speak Out in a large room at the First United Methodist Church, an institution in the morality business, but it was too small for the standing-room-only, fired-up crowd that showed up, ready to fight for themselves and their families.
They were all in support of President Obama's rule requiring birth control to be made available to women, at no cost, no matter where they work. And they all understood that this debate has nothing to do with religious freedom, and everything to do with their health. After all, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention labeled family planning and contraception as one of the top ten public health achievements of the 20th century -- right up there with vaccinations.
Republicans, if you are feeling a little nagging doubt about your crusade against birth control, you would be right. And if you aren't, you would be blind and deaf.
You have awakened a sleeping giant. Young women, independent women, single women, married women, women who are normally politically uninterested -- the 99% of women who rely on birth control during their lives -- they are paying attention.
Republicans, don 't say you haven't been warned. These women will be voting and voting in numbers greater than men as they always do. And they will be thinking about you and the disrespect that you have shown them. So if you want to persist in your out of date, out of touch attacks on women's basic health care, go ahead. You will have plenty of time to think it over after you lose your election.
Jan Schakowsky is a Member of Congress from Illinois' 9th Congressional District. View her political web site at www.janschakowsky.org.
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