What might be so controversial about reauthorizing the 1994 Violence Against Women Act that not a single Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee was willing to support the bill? [NYT] The problem areas? Patently obvious:
“The main sticking points seemed to be language in the bill to ensure that victims are not denied services because they are gay or transgender and a provision that would modestly expand the availability of special visas for undocumented immigrants who are victims of domestic violence — a necessary step to encourage those victims to come forward.” [NYT]
It’s all about the usual anti-gay, anti-immigrant rhetoric from the Republican Party. The GOP did have a substitute, but it cut out the improvements in the bill, called for a huge reduction in spending, and sought the elimination of the Department of Justice office which administers the enforcement of the law.
Last week we were treated to the spectacle of rules published by the Department of Health and Human Services for basic health insurance coverage, to include contraception, and the Conference of Bishops tossing a hissy about insurance corporations being made to pay for employee health benefits — which some Catholic institutions like DePaul University already provide. The latest incarnation of the GOP attack on women comes on the heels of this Poutrage in the form of an amendment from Senator Blunt (R-MO). Unfortunately, he isn’t alone. The National Women’s Law Center explains:
What would happen if some of these bills became law?
- Any employer could offer a plan that does not cover maternity care for unmarried women in its plan, claiming that such coverage violates its belief that sex and procreation are permissible only within the marital relationship. (Amendment No. 1520 sponsored by Senator Blunt, R-MO, also known as the “Blunt Amendment”/H.R. 1179)
- Any corporation whose CEO opposes contraception based on his “moral convictions” could deny all coverage of contraception or any other service to the company’s employees. Even more disturbing, a CEO’s view of “morality” could potentially include concern for the cost of a particular benefit. (S. 2092, also known as “The Manchin-Rubio Bill” and the “Blunt Amendment”/H.R. 1179)
- Any employer who objects to coverage of vaccines for children could deny this coverage to all employees. (The “Blunt Amendment”/H.R. 1179)
In the winners column we have “The Health Insurance Corporations” which would no longer be required to cover maternity expenses, contraception medication, and children’s vaccinations. In the losers column insert women and their families from one coast to the other.
The Republican controlled House of Representatives has had time to consider 27 bills dealing directly or indirectly with abortions (but no time to take up any jobs bills), even though the subject is of intense interest to only 3% of the U.S. population. [PRpt] In 2011, H.R. 3 pulled some slick drafting tricks to narrow the definition of rape such that victims of rape had to prove they were impregnated by force. [ReidRpt]
Why make Planned Parenthood a special target? Because 3% of its services are abortion related. [PP] Republicans seem to have no trouble advocating birth control for wild horses, but stop cold when it comes to women who aren’t resident feral equines on public lands. [BFC]
There have always been voices from the extreme right advocating against the access women have to the courts in cases of domestic abuse, the vestiges of the Rule of Thumb Crowd (don’t hit your wife with any stick greater in diameter than your thumb), and there have been some marginal calls for removing access to contraceptive prescriptions. The problem for women (and their husbands) in 2012 is that these formerly extreme positions have now become part of the Republican mainstream.
All the more reason for women NOT to sit down, shut up and stay home in 2012.