House Passes An Abortion Ban After Letting Children’s Health Program Expire

October 29, 2017
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The White House said the move will “facilitate a culture of life.”

House Passes An Abortion Ban After Letting Children’s Health Program Expire

A bill was passed by House Republicans that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy ― a move said by the Trump administration that will “help to facilitate a culture of life.” It comes three days after the Congress allowed a federal children’s health program to expire, potentially leaving millions of poor children without insurance coverage.

The abortion bill passed by the House would shorten the time for a woman can legally seek abortion, based on a medically-unsupported claim that at 20 weeks, fetuses can feel pain. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, authored an op-ed on the anti-abortion website on Monday touting the legislation.

“All of us—Republicans, Democrats, and Independents—can agree that the government has a vested interest in protecting the rights of children,” stated Goodlatte, “and that should include unborn children after 20 weeks.”

Yet the deadline to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which helped states provide insurance coverage to 9 million children in low-income families, was missed by Republicans in Congress.
A bipartisan 5-year bill to renew the program was put forth by the Senate, but the vote wasn’t scheduled in time, instead the legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare was prioritized. The House did not even propose a bill to reauthorize CHIP, which shall expire at the end of September.

On Sunday, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y) tweeted “Republican gridlock has put 9 million children at risk, this is unacceptable.”
Democrats also pointed out the hypocrisy of Congress and the president doing nothing to address gun violence, which resulted in the death of 12,000 American just this year alone. The abortion vote comes just one day after what was considered the deadliest mass shooting in modern United States history, in which a man with at least 20 rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammunition opened fire on a country music festival in Las Vegas.

In this country, there have been 521 mass shootings out of 477 days, and the U.S. has by far a much more imminent theat of gun violence than any other developed nation, but the 26 bills that would address gun violence in different ways are all currently languishing without a vote by the Congress.
On Tuesday morning, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) said on the House floor “If we had an outbreak every day that had over 100,000 people a year killed and injured, Congress would be in a frenzy,” He added. “Yesterday we found two minutes for a moment of silence, and we moved on.”

Meanwhile, bodies count is still accumulating in Puerto Rico’s morgues as the Trump administration lags in its response to the Hurricane Maria disaster. The death toll in the past week from the storm hasn’t been updated by the Official, but horrific conditions are being reported on the ground ― hospitals running out of fuel and supplies, cancer patients missing chemotherapy treatments, mothers begging for water for their babies.

“It’s tantamount to Mother Nature’s atomic bomb, and we’re doing very little,” Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus pointed out in asking her colleagues to expedite aid to the U.S. territory last week.

Trump criticized Puerto Ricans for not doing more to help themselves after the devastating hurricane and lamented the logistical challenges of providing aid to the island. But lawmakers’ acting on abortion was applauded by the White House.
On Monday night, the White House released a statement “The Administration strongly supports the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, and applauds the House of Representatives for continuing its efforts to secure critical pro-life protections”.

The legislation passed the House by a 237-189 vote, but it is very unlikely to become law because it lacks the needed 60 votes to make it through the Senate. Tuesday, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said the bill is “dead on arrival” and excoriated her colleagues across the aisle for prioritizing it.
“Is the House working on helping families who have lost their loved ones and livelihoods in Puerto Rico? No,” she went on. “Are they answering the calls from moms and dads nationwide who want to know when Congress will finally act on gun control? No.”
She added “There is never a good time for politicians to try to tell women what they can and can’t do with their own bodies,”
“But the House Republican decision to prioritize politics right now — of all times — is irresponsible and out of touch to a new extreme.” Sen. Patty Murray concluded.

The pressure should be on men to stop predatory behavior.

The Problem With Asking Women To Say ‘Me Too’

Facebook timelines have been filled with the status “Me too” since Sunday night in an attempt to prove how widespread sexual harassment and assault are in our culture.
One of my friends wrote “Do I start with the man in the car on the Parkway who masturbated and made kissing faces at the junior high tennis team on the way home from a match?”
“The man, when I was in a dance club with my housemates, looked me in the eye and ran his hand down the front of me and grabbed at my pussy,” wrote another.

The effect is an exhausting cascade of predatory actions that tell women what they already knew: men consider our bodies disposable. “Me too” went viral on Sunday, after the actress Alyssa Milano tweeted that victims of sexual harassment and assault should use the phrase to come forward with their stories.

Of course the social media campaign was intended as a wake-up call for men. If every woman you know has been harassed or assaulted, then every man you know has likely made a woman feel unsafe. But while posting “Me too” on Facebook may be cathartic for women seeking solace in the wake of yet another news story involving a powerful predator, little change shall it do to the male behavior leading to these accusations.

Men don’t need to understand that every woman has been sexually demeaned or violated. What they need to acknowledge is a much more basic thing: in these stories, women are the victims.
Women can turn the whole internet into a list of “Me too,” but no difference would occur until men ― all men ― acknowledge how they perpetuate misogyny and commit to making a change.
There is a long history of men silencing or discounting women speaking up about sexual violence. Even in our most powerful institutions, victim-blaming happens all the time, with the police dismissing a vast number of rape reports before even investigating them and the judges who find alleged perpetrators “not guilty” because a woman should “keep her knees together” or because even “a drunk can consent.”

In the recent Stanford rape case, Brock Turner was sentenced to only six months in jail ― which was then reduced to three months ― because there would be a “severe impact” on his life should there be a longer sentence, as if the primary concern should be the culprit’s own wellbeing. The message women are constantly being sent is to suck the traumatic experiences up because they themselves are to blame. If we want men to respect our bodies, we need to change.

Guys are rarely told to change their own predatory behavior. Conversations of sexual harassment and assault are always framed as a “women’s issue.” Men’s publications are full of tips about how to choose the best whiskey or grill a steak, but rarely misogyny, sexual assault or how to confront a sexist friend are addressed. Studies frame data in terms of the number of women who were assaulted, rather than the number of men who have committed sexual violence.

This led to the result as a culture where men think they have no responsibility to change their own sexist attitudes and illicit behaviors. Guys stand by idly at bars while their friends make degrading comments regarding women and fail to intervene when jokes actually turn into sexual assault.
When sexual violence allegations hit the news, men don’t have conversations with one another about how they can help to fix the problem. It’s always the women who have to do the talking among themselves and publicly, starting hashtags (#MyHarveyWeinstein), writing Facebook posts and making lists of countless horror stories in an attempt to shake men into action. As if spending our lives being constantly harassed and violated by men was not enough; we also have to explain to these men why their behavior is problematic and, often, illegal.

The whole internet can turn into a list of “Me too,” but it won’t make a difference until men ― all men ― acknowledge how they perpetuate misogyny and commit to making a change. Men need to recognize how failing to call out “locker room talk” enables sexual assault. More organizations and publications should focus on progressive masculinity rather than outdated and dangerous stereotypes about what constitutes “manliness.” And men need to start a “Me too” Facebook campaign that lists a time they caught themselves being sexist, and states how they are committed to changing that attitude going forward.

However, there are signs of hope. Last night a friend asked men on Facebook to list “one tangible action you will take to end rape culture” and her post has 54 comments that include “I’ll speak up in places [where] I have privilege and power” and “Listen instead of becoming defensive.” In response to the “Me too” campaign, men are posting “I believe you”. These are steps in a very good direction.

If “Me too” makes you feel empowered, by all means, type those words. But it’s also important to recognize the limitations of the campaign. No woman should ever feel pressure telling painful stories of being violated, but every man should feel responsible to stop behavior leading to sexual harassment and assault.

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