Republicans insist the Democrats’ claim of a “war on women” is simply a fairytale. Yet every week the GOP pushes another anti-woman policy that proves that this fairytale is reality. This week, my Senate GOP colleagues blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that would have ensured women earn equal pay for equal work. Sounds simple enough, but not to my Republican friends who managed to use every manner of double-speak to justify opposing this bill.
This was not the first time we have seen this. This war on women has been raging for a while now and there seems no end in sight. And while this war has been bad for all women, it has the potential to be devastating for women of color.
House Republicans fired the first shot by voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act that included numerous provisions related to women’s health care. They followed this by voting to strike funding for family planning and Planned Parenthood. But it didn’t stop there. Five men testified before the House Oversight Committee on limiting access to contraception. That’s right, five men — who will never bear children — are now experts on women’s bodies.
For women of color, this attack on women’s health could literally mean life or death. African Americans develop and die from cervical cancer at a rate higher than white women. Additionally, infant mortality among African Americans is over twice the rate of whites. Pregnancy-related death occurs among African American women at a rate of three to four times more often than whites. The Affordable Care Act addresses many of the issues but Republicans continue to work to stifle this law’s potential to change and even save lives.
Just last month we witnessed the passage of the GOP’s “fake” Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) which attempts to roll back the clock on protections for victims of domestic violence; opening the gates for increased domestic violence with cuts to vital funds to prevent abuse and educate law enforcement resources. As a victim of domestic violence, knowing that 4 in 10 African American females will be subject to rape, physical violence or stalking in their lifetimes further emphasizes the need to pass a VAWA bill that truly protects domestic violence victims and works to expand those protections to the most vulnerable in our society.
After attacking our health and our safety, the GOP has now turned to our wages. This issue has very serious implications because not only is it an attack on women, it is an attack on our families and our economy. Nationwide, women earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. African-American women, however, earn only 62 cents – a difference of 38 cents in comparison to men. Closing this wage gap would give women of color and their families crucial additional funds to help pay for food, mortgages or rent, or a child’s education. Yet once again, Republicans chose to block this legislation.
Given all the challenges women — and particularly women of color — face on a daily basis, the last thing we need is to fend off legislative attacks from our elected officials who should be working in our best interests.
The political games of the GOP are putting the lives of women and their families at risk. There are no shiny white horses and happing endings in this fairytale – this is real life, with real consequences. It’s time for Republicans to stop this charade and work with Democrats to enact policy that is in the best interests of all women.