Congressional Republicans, including Rep. Michael Burgess of Denton County, are attacking women’s health care rights in ways that we haven’t seen in decades.
Last week, President Obama revised an earlier proposal to provide women with access to contraception without cost. These revisions take religious organizations out of the process and deal directly with insurance companies to pay for this service. The GOP has mounted a noisy campaign against this assistance for women, even though it has been available for over 10 years.
Their position is not realistic. A high percentage of sexually active women use contraceptives during their reproductive years, and Catholic women are no different. Major Catholic organizations supported the President’s changes, and the Catholic view of President Obama has not changed in the last few weeks.
Neither the popularity of contraception nor the approval of the President’s plan mollified the GOP. Instead, they asserted that the President had declared war on the Constitution and religious liberties.
Earlier this week, Dr. Michael Burgess, who represents Texas’ District 26, which includes Denton County, declared on Fox Business Network that providing contraception was a violation of First Amendment rights. We’ll let Rep. Burgess’ convoluted rhetoric speak for itself, but it’s no surprise that he sees women’s health as a business issue and the GOP’s right to limit women’s health care as a free speech issue. Rep. Michael Burgess is the sole official member of what he refers to as the “Congressional Health Care Caucus“.
Not content with infringing just women’s health care rights, the GOP is now attacking preventive and other health care services. Roy Blunt (R-MO) proposes that many diseases such as HIV-AIDS and Type 2 Diabetes, which have a lifestyle component, could be denied coverage. Since most illnesses are affected by lifestyle and lifestyle is affected by economic resources, this is just another not-so-veiled effort to punish less affluent Americans.
It’s sad that in 2012, we find ourselves fighting the same battles won decades ago for women’s health rights, but here we are.