Where is our voice?
What strikes me most about the debates about women's health care is how painfully hard Republicans are trying to not mention any of the women who will be affected by their ideological crusades. Because arguing against an idea is easy. But as soon as you have to argue against an individual, it becomes much more difficult. Republicans will have to look a woman in the eye and tell her that she doesn't deserve the health care she needs. Put a woman's face on the contraception debate, and then you remind everyone that this could be your mother, your daughter, your sister, your wife, or even you.
Congressman Issa's all-male panel discussing birth control has now become infamous, as was his silencing of Sandra Fluke, the woman who bravely tried to make her voice heard to tell why women needed birth control. Others have already lampooned him and his parody of a birth-control hearing, but the larger issue remains. Women are consistently being ignored in the birth control debate. And we stand to lose so much when our voices aren't heard. Our knowledge and experience over what exactly birth control is, how it works, and how it does so much more to protect our health and wellbeing is lost. Instead of trying to understand the practical implications of their birth control policies, Republicans are trying to drown us out with extreme rhetoric. They are trying to turn it into an ideological battle when, ideologically, most Americans don't have a problem with birth control at all!
This week, there will be numerous committee hearings about birth control and family planning services. Thankfully, we've got some amazing women on our side who will be advocating for the women's perspective, including Representatives Shelley Berkley, Zoe Lofgren, Sheila Jackson Lee, Maxine Waters, Judy Chu, Linda Sanchez, Anna Eshoo, Diana DeGette, Lois Capps, Jan Schakowsky, Tammy Baldwin, Doris Matsui, and Kathy Castor. As a woman who needs birth control for health reasons, I hope these women can bring some sanity back to the birth control debate, and I hope more women will be elected this November to strengthen the woman's perspective in Congress. Republicans can keep trying to ignore women, but hopefully they won't be able to for much longer.
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