Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Democrats Must Take The Offensive On Women's Reproductive Rights

Democrats See Electoral Gold in Birth Control Fight, But Do They See Women's Health?

By Joan McCarter, cross-posted from Daily Kos

The Senate is going to be voting on Sen. Roy Blunt's amendment repealing the administration's birth control mandate and with it much of the health insurance coverage the Affordable Care Act extended. Though the primary focus of the Blunt amendment has been on birth control, the actual language of the bill would allow employers to dictate all kind of coverage exemptions for their employees, under the guise of "moral convictions." That's a proposal, by the way, which is hugely unpopular.

Which is why Democrats in the Senate are anxious to take the vote.
Democrats see the vote as a way to embarrass Republicans — especially those up for re-election in moderate states like Maine and Massachusetts — and believe that the battle may alienate women and moderates from the Republican Party. Republicans need to pick up a number of seats to take back the Senate. “They’ve gone way overboard in the mind of independents,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate, in a conference call with reporters, referring to Republicans generally. The fight over contraception, he said, “is going to do lasting damage” to the Republican Party.
Lasting damage to the Republicans is all well and good. The GOP's overreach on social issues has to come to an end at some point through a good electoral stomping, and it might as well be now.

But, Democrats, how about a little effort to take the bull by the horns and start making up for the huge ground lost to the zealots in the past few decades in women's reproductive health rights? Now that the nation has a crystal clear view of exactly what Republicans intend to do with the freedoms of 51 percent of the nation's population, it's the perfect time to be proactive with a coherent message to America's women that you'll start fighting for us again.

That goes for the White House, too, which seems a little hesitant to make this a real fight.
One White House official cautioned that should the debate devolve into shrill arguments, the net result would be the alienation of the independent or moderate voters whom Mr. Obama is trying to woo in his reelection bid. “Look, we don’t want to overplay this either, so we’ll be cautious,” another White House official said.
Just look, again, at the polling. There's no time like the present for getting just a little bit shrill. That's the least the nation's women deserve.


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