Do Women Think?
Today, House Republicans passed H Con Res 36, a concurrent resolution that would “correct the enrollment” of the Continuing Resolution (HR 1473) by adding a section at the end of the bill to defund Planned Parenthood. Cutting off federal funding for Planned Parenthood would have a devastating impact on women’s health across the country and as Leader Pelosi said on the House floor today, the House Republican effort is an assault on the judgment of women harkening back to a time where people asked ‘do women think?’:
Thank you Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentle lady for yielding and for her forceful leadership in promoting women’s health.
Mr. Speaker and my colleagues, when I was in high school a long time ago, I participated in an extemporaneous debate contest. One of the contestants there, a friend of mine drew from the bowl a slip that said ‘Do Women Think?’ Do women think? Now this was a long time ago but even then we thought that was a startling question. Do women think? The young lady who drew it, she was really a girl in high school, spoke with great grace and strength about women and won the debate. Which we hope to do today.
I hadn’t thought of that debate for a long time but it came rushing down on me as I heard our Republican colleagues put forth their cuts on women’s health–especially eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood. The arguments with which the Republicans have put forth sound like the same questions of decades ago. Do women think?
It’s an assault on the judgment of women. It bespeaks a lack of respect for women to determine the size and the timing of their families. It’s clear that Republicans do not support family planning–it’s hard to understand–but it’s clear that they don’t and have used the bait on this bill to spread misinformation about the critical work that Planned Parenthood does on behalf of America’s women everyday.
So let us be clear, Planned Parenthood health centers currently provide preventative services to millions of women in need of health care, including the provision of contraception, cancer screening, breast exams and HIV testing. Further, this debate is not about abortion. That is because federal funding for abortion is already prohibited. That is the law of the land. This debate is about women’s health.
Every year Planned Parenthood health centers provide this for women’s health: contraception to nearly two and a half million patients, nearly one million pap tests identifying about 93,000 women at risk for developing cervical cancer, 830 breast exams, helping alert patients to possible cancers. And that is why cutting off federal funding for Planned Parenthood would have a devastating impact on women’s health across the country.
Indeed, more than 90% of the health care provided by Planned Parenthood is preventive care. For the majority of the women who use Planned Parenthood health centers, the center is the primary source of receiving health care services. Elimination of funding means that these women do not have health care of any kind.
Today’s legislation which has no chance of passing the Senate and becoming law, thank God, is just part of the Republican agenda that is the most comprehensive and radical assault on women’s health and reproductive freedom in our lifetime. And that’s saying something.
Further, I point out, that today on the floor of this House this is the 100th day of the Republicans having the majority. Here we are again debating legislation that has nothing to do with the number one priority of the American people-creating jobs. Indeed after 100 days, the Republicans have not created one job and have not offered a jobs agenda and are instead on the march against women’s health and to end Medicare in order to give tax breaks to big oil and millionaires.
Some Republicans say that we’re here because we did not pass a bill last year. It was shocking to hear even some members of the Appropriations Committee, who should know better on the Republican side say that. But indeed we did. It was held up by Republicans in the Senate. We passed it in the House without one Republican vote, the Omnibus bill, but it was held up by the Republicans in the Senate. And in that bill, we cut $41 billion from the President’s budget. So today when I hear our colleagues say we are cutting $78 billion, $38 billion today, $37.5 billion today, the other $41 billion, which is the larger amount, the largest amount, was cut by the Democrats without one Republican vote at the end of last year.
Today, in this latest partisan maneuver, Republicans are perpetrating an attack on the health of women across the country, and I rise in strong opposition to their efforts. We must all stand strong against that agenda against women’s health. We must all continue to work to create a healthier America. And that is why I urge a yes to women’s judgment, a yes to respect their decision on the size and timing of their families, and a no for this vote which is an attack on women’s health.
With that I yield back the balance of my time.
The “enrollment correction” failed in the Senate this afternoon by a vote of 42-58.