Alice Hauan, Fargo, column: Stop the GOP’s assault on women’s healthMen — mostly Republican men — continue to believe that women do not know how to think or make decisions on their own.
By: Alice Hauan, Grand Forks Herald
By Alice Hauan
FARGO — During the past 40 years, great progress has been made by women in leadership positions in education, law, commerce, politics and other areas.
Great strides have been made here in North Dakota as well, efforts in which I and many, many others have taken part. In the early 1970s, women (and some men) in our state worked tirelessly for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment; and in 1975, North Dakota became the 34th state to pass the ERA.
Still, there is a great deal more work to be done. What’s painful is that nearly 40 years later, women still are fighting for equality.
It’s outrageous what politicians in Washington and many states are trying to do to women’s health care. Although women make up more than 50 percent of the population, men still continue to dominate. Two weeks ago, we saw a glaring example of this when Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., held a committee hearing on the Obama administration’s new birth control benefit plan, which ensures that women have access to birth control with no costly co-pays, regardless of where they work.
Most of us know by now that the witnesses included five men, among whom were three clergy and no women. Issa also refused to let a woman to speak in support of the new birth control benefit. He declared that she wasn’t “appropriate or qualified” to speak on the issue. She eventually was heard in the Senate, thanks to the Democrats.
Some critics say birth control “is not a health issue.” I say, it would be hard to find a woman or a doctor who agreed with that statement.
Birth control is basic health care. It has real health and economic benefits and is directly linked to improving a woman’s health and the health of her family.
Ask any woman who has suffered any one or many of the problems that can occur in a pregnancy, most of them life-threatening. When a doctor says, “You should not get pregnant again,” what choices are there?
Whatever they are, they are hers alone to make, keeping in mind her religious and moral beliefs and all the ramifications the decision will have for those she loves and who love her.
Men — mostly Republican men — continue to believe that women do not know how to think or make decisions on their own.
I’m tired of hearing “men don’t get it.” They get it alright; they just don’t like it. And their moral positions are just that: THEIR morals. For them, apparently, anyone else’s morals are lacking.
Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., introduced legislation that gives institutions the power to restrict insurance coverage if they object to it on religious or moral grounds. But this legislation goes beyond any religious concerns. It would let any employer or insurance company deny access to not only birth control but also any essential health care service, including maternity care, STD or HIV/AIDS treatment, mammograms, cancer screenings and so on.
It really was disheartening to hear that Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., is bragging about being not just a signer on this legislation but a co-sponsor. Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., is supporting the legislation totally and says he’ll sign on when it reaches the House.
The assault on women’s health is becoming more and more extreme. That probably should be no surprise: These assaults are coming from the same people who have tried and still are trying to cut Title X family planning and Women and Infant Care funding, and are supporting so-called “personhood” legislation that would outlaw even common forms of birth control.
We need to keep struggling and keep urging them to quit their assault on women’s (and children’s) health care.
Forty years ago, the women of our state worked long and hard for the ERA — and won. We are uniting again to continue the effort for women in the hope that before long we can brag that North Dakota cares.
Hauan is a member of the North Dakota Advisory Committee for Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota.