Saturday, November 07, 2009

Delay and disrespect: Republicans try to silence women on House floor during health-care reform debate

This morning, the House began consideration of the rule for debate of the House health care bill. As the Democratic Women's Caucus took to the microphone on the House floor to offer their arguments for how the bill would benefit women, House Republicans -- led by Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) -- repeatedly talked over, screamed, and shouted objections. "I object, I object, I object, I object, I object," Price interjected as Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) tried to hold the floor.

In an effort to delay and derail the proceedings, the Republicans continually talked over the Democratic women for half an hour. They sought to prevent the debate by calling for unnecessary "parliamentary inquiries" and requests for "expanding the debate" by an hour.

It amazes that any woman would vote Republican, let alone be a Republican, but of course there are many women who support policies that, in my view, work against women's best interests. But let's leave that aside here. The behaviour of Republicans in the House today was simply appalling. They sought to silence women from speaking in support of reform, women who are their own colleagues in the House, and generally sought to block meaningful debate on reform.

The anti-choice Stupak Amendment is terrible -- it would, as Jon Cohn explains, "[make] it more likely that millions of American women will no longer be able to purchase insurance that covers abortion services." (Of course, it could still be stripped out of the final bill, but pro-choice supporters of reform may have to accept this compromise, and setback, if they want reform to pass.) What is also terrible, though, is that Republicans have given up even pretending to be civil in their opposition to reform, and their treatment of the Democratic Women's Caucus showed clearly how little respect they have for women and women's issues. There will no doubt be much more of this as the various bills work their way through Congress.

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