Where are the women? That's the question I asked nearly two years ago when an all-male panel testified to the House Oversight Committee on restricting women's access to contraception. And it's the question I asked again at the start of this year when another all-male panel green-lighted a bill to restrict women's access to constitutionally protected abortions.
For years, Republicans have tried to get between a woman and her doctor. Now they're trying to come between a woman and her health insurance company.
This week, the House of Representatives voted 227 to 188 to approve the deceptively named "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" (H.R. 7). Just one Republican, Congressman Richard Hanna, joined Democrats in voting against the bill, even though the law already says no taxpayer dollars can be used to pay for abortions.
Access to abortion is, unfortunately, already denied to women on Medicaid and restricted for federal employees, military personnel, Native American women, poor residents of the District of Columbia and federal prisoners due to the Hyde Amendment. H.R. 7 has nothing to do with taxpayer funding and everything to do with restricting abortion access even further.
The bill passed this week would impose even harsher restrictions by prohibiting millions of women from using their own money to buy health care plans that cover comprehensive reproductive care. It would affect women who work for small businesses by denying tax credits to companies that provide abortion coverage. And it denies comprehensive plans to women who qualify for a tax credit when purchasing insurance through the health care exchanges. In this way the proposal disproportionately impacts low-income women who need the most help getting covered.
Despite all the real problems that need solving in this country like an unemployment rate that is still too high and a shrinking middle class, Republicans remain focused on curbing a woman's reproductive choices and defunding proven programs that have helped to lift women and children out of poverty and improve their safety, health, and well-being.
You can't execute a war on women and cover it up with rhetoric and niceties. You can't make restricting abortion access the top priority for one of our country's two main political parties and think women will look the other way. When 99 percent of Americans have used birth control at some point in their lives, you can't expect that women won't notice when Republicans actively work to cut access to contraception. And you can't continually work to shut down Planned Parenthood and expect us to go along with it. The list goes on and on.
They may not want anyone to call this a war on women. But I would point out to them that women -- and only women -- are the casualties of this multi-front assault on reproductive rights.