"One of the great things about our nation… is that we’re each entitled to have strong, personal beliefs. And we encourage other people to do the same. But as a nation we recognize the right of all people to believe as they want. And not to impose our beliefs on other people. I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country... I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years, that we should sustain and support it and I sustain and support that law and the right of the woman to make that choice. And my personal beliefs, like the personal beliefs of other people should not be brought into a political campaign. "-Mitt Romney, 1994.
Clips like this I think are important. Politicians are certainly allowed to change their opinions, but regarding the issue of women's health, it is a subject that is particularly vulnerable to the political climate. We are now in a period in which Tea Party rhetoric, whether or not it is representative of the opinions of the majority, or of the politicians in (or running for) office. But ultra-conservative Tea Party politics are what has the microphone, so conservative candidates, and even moderate Republicans, feel the need to conform to these values.
Republican Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine (holla home state!) announced that she would not be running for a 4th term recently, and in her statement to the Washington Post cited frustration with the growing sectarian politics in Washington DC as one of her reasons for leaving politics. This quote I like a lot:
"The great challenge is to create a system that gives our elected officials reasons to look past their differences and find common ground if their initial party positions fail to garner sufficient support. In a politically diverse nation, only by finding that common ground can we achieve results for the common good."
Right now there's not a lot of incentive for politicians--on either side--to look past their differences. This is bad news for us, their constituents. And especially for women. Women's health is presented as a simple black and white issue (sluts! sex! freedom! health!) of morality, when it's really a strategic tool used by politicians--often conservative politicians--to drum up support. It's a lot easier to make a sound bite about birth control being immoral than one about foreign policy that Middle America will relate to. What this means is that women's health is under attack from politicians who would rather go for soft issues and insert religious beliefs into places they should not be (like uteruses) than do any sort of substancial political work. And so incentives for women's reproductive health are cut and cut and cut under the guise that they are not necessary. That women should be paying for their health care out of pocket.
Know why this is bullshit?? Because health is a basic right! And sexual health is part of health! So if insurance plans will cover viagra for men (even Catholic Church affiliated employers provide viagra on their insurance plans) they should sure as hell cover birth control for women. And furthermore, countries that have high uses of contraceptives (France, UK, Netherlands, Spain) have lower birthrates and lower abortion rates than the US. Babies are an expensive business, and if Republicans want to force women to have children they might not be prepared for, it's some bullshit that they don't care enough about that kid post-womblife to provide sufficient public assistance to needy families. Not to mention neonatal care, that is also expensive. The US has a really high infant mortality rate for a developed country (5.98 per 1000 live births, we clock in right after Croatia, yeah 2012!), which is partly due to the fact that in most developed countries, healthcare for pregnant women is free. If you live in the US, you either need $$ or a good insurance plan for that. This is really unacceptable. If even after knowing all that you think that health care shouldn't be universal, I think there might be something wrong with you.
Anyway, I just wrote a paper about this for a class and a pamphlet for the DSA, compounded with the fact that this is all over the news and this kind of stuff makes my blood boil, so I've got to talk about this. Don't let politics take a crap on our basic rights to health.
And if you want something to do RIGHT NOW, Planned Parenthood has a message for dear ole Rick Perry that you can add your signature to.
When you mess with Texas women, you mess with ME. Shame on Rick Perry for putting politics before health care by cutting funding to tens of thousands of women: Join me -- sign the letter to Texas Governor Rick Perry!