The theme of this year’s Women’s Health Week is “It’s Your Time.” The aim is to empower women “to make their health a top priority.” It encourages women to get regular checkups and preventive screenings, and to pay attention to mental health, including getting enough sleep and managing stress.
Oblivious to all this, today, the GOP-controlled House of Representatives is expected to approve the watered-down Republican version of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (HR 4970), which “not only eliminates important provisions included in the Senate-passed bipartisan bill, S1925, but contains new ones that would actually be dangerous to survivors of domestic violence while shielding abusers from accountability,” the National Organization for Women warns. The Republican leadership said it would not allow any floor amendments.
The New York Times notes that VAWA, originally enacted in 1994, has been “key to efforts against domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.” Talk about managing stress!
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Sandy Adams, R-Fla., removes protections for Native American women, immigrant women, LGBT individuals, college students and others.
The Times editorializes: “House members on both sides of the aisle who are serious about combating domestic violence must work to defeat this atrocious bill. If that fails, the Senate will need to insist on fixing it during the reconciliation process.”
A “real” VAWA reauthorization bill, HR 4271, has been introduced by Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis., but Republican leaders are not allowing this version to be offered for a vote.
Meanwhile, any day now, the Kansas state Senate is about to vote on a bill that would require doctors to give false information to patients to scare them away from having an abortion. The “Omnibus Abortion Restriction and Tax Penalty Bill,” SB 313, “forces doctors to lie to their patients,” says Planned Parenthood. “There is no scientific evidence that choosing to end a pregnancy increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer — but doctors will be required to tell women seeking abortion that such a link exists.”
In addition, the bill provides legal protection for a doctor who withholds information about possible health risks from a pregnant patient if they think the truth might lead her to end her pregnancy.
SB 313 also includes controversial tax measures touted by Republicans and “pro-life” groups as preventing taxpayer money from funding abortions.
The bill already passed the state House on May 7, with an 88-31 vote.
Planned Parenthood is urging letters to legislators in Kansas and other states to “stop playing doctor … stop interfering with women’s most private medical decisions.”
Also ignoring women’s health, two other recent war-on-women actions by Republican governors.
* On April 13 , Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed the most extreme abortion ban in the United States, banning all abortion after 20 weeks with very limited exceptions.
As a result of a similar although less restrictive measure passed in Nebraska in 2010, Danielle Deaver was forced to continue a pregnancy even after a health crisis meant she was going to lose the baby anyway. She was forced spend 10 excruciating days waiting to give birth to a baby that she knew would die minutes later, because her doctors feared prosecution under her state’s 20-week abortion ban.
In a personal appeal to Gov. Brewer not to sign the Arizona ban, Deaver wrote:
“That my pregnancy ended, that choice was made by God. How to handle the end of my pregnancy, that should have been private. But the decision that should have remained mine and my husband’s at a very difficult time was decided for us – and it was decided by politicians we’d never met.”
* In March, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell signed a bill requiring Virginia women to undergo an ultrasound procedure prior to having an abortion. Opponents charge the aim was to intimidate women from having abortions. The women health’s organization NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia told CBS News the bill was “an unprecedented invasion of privacy and government intrusion into the doctors’ offices and living rooms of Virginia women.”
On the plus side, women’s health scored a victory in Texas on April 30 when a federal judge blocked the state from implementing a rule that would have excluded Planned Parenthood from the state’s Women’s Health Program.
Planned Parenthood is the single largest provider of care in the Women’s Health Program which serves low-income and uninsured women. Currently more than one-quarter of Texan women are uninsured, and women in Texas have the third-highest rate of cervical cancer in the U.S.