Cowboy hats were the perfect gift for the 9 girls who spent their Spring Break with us last week. Most had never been to Texas, so cowboy hats seemed the appropriate way to commemorate their visit. These girls are talented young women who share their athletic talents with my daughter on her college basketball team. Their team plays in Division III which limits the amount of time the coach can require the girls to devote to their sport, so that academics is their priority in college. These young women are gifted athletes, and will be bright, competent professionals in each of their chosen fields. Four are pre-med, one is an economics major, one is a political science major, and the rest are unsure at this time what will be the focus of their study. Each is working hard to achieve academic success and athletic success. None are involved or knowledgeable about politics. Instead of worrying about who will be the next Governor of their states, they are worrying about the next organic chemistry test.
Instead of worrying about whether the Republican party will win the war on women, they worry about who will win the Final Four. These young women have their priorities straight. To excel in their chosen professions it is essential that they concentrate their efforts on studies. However if they are to have opportunities in the work place, and receive equal treatment under the law in America, it is up to their parents’ generation to ensure that their rights are protected. We provideded food, shelter, and education for them when they were younger. But our job isn’t done. As adults, it is our responsibility to provide for them a country in which they will be able to be treated equally to their male counter-parts. Every father of each of these girls wants their daughters to be treated fairly and with respect. They don’t want their daughters to receive special accommodation because they are women; only the same opportunities that the men receive.
The Republican Party has been described as waging a “War on Women.” I have been hesitant to accept that term as it sounds like the media sensationalizing a difference in policies that simply have adverse consequences for women. However after a great deal of review, of a great deal of literature, it is hard to reach any other conclusion. Let me be specific.
It’s been 50 years since the Supreme Court ruled that the right of privacy mandated the ability of people to choose whether they would use birth control, and the type. It has been 40 years since the Supreme Court ruled that women’s right of privacy included the right to choose abortion, in certain circumstances. Yet decades later the Republican Party continues to make contraception and abortion significant parts of their party’s platform. Moreover, members of the Republican Party have spoken out to demean and disparage women, and indicated their ignorance while doing so. It’s hard to forget:
1. Mike Huckabee, at the annual meeting of the RNC” saying that “they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government.”
2. Republicans call women “sluts” because women have asserted a right to contraception.
3. It was a Republican who suggested that there are some types of rape that are not legitimately rapes.
4. Some Republicans have the temerity to tell women that if a rape results in a pregnancy, it is a gift from God.
5. Clayton Williams is the Republican who suggested that if a woman was being raped she should “relax and enjoy it.” Mr. Williams is no longer running for office but he is raising money for fellow Republicans.
Republicans seem to be ignoring the facts. SEVENTY-EIGHT percent of all Americans agree that abortion should be legal. It is estimated that there are62 Million women in America in their child bearing years. The typical woman in the U.S. wants only two children, and thus she must use contraceptives for roughly 30 years. Thus, it is not surprising to learn that more than 99% of women aged 15-44 who have ever had sexual intercourse have used at least one form of contraceptive method. An estimate 62% of all women of reproductive age are currently using a contraceptive method. That means that there are approximately 38 Million women in the America who use some form of contraception. Yet Republican men insist on making contraceptives and abortions part of the national debate.
Suggesting that Medicare and the Affordable Care Act should not cover contraception for women is patently discriminatory. Medicare currently coverspenile implant surgery,
and penile pumps. While Medicare isn’t supposed to pay for Erectile Dysfunction medications if they are prescribed to treat erectile dysfunction, physicians have prescribed them for millions of patients who have had the cost of their medicines reimbursed by Medicare, for some unspecified reason. Thus even though women rely on the pill for other medical reasons such as lowering the risk of ovarian cancer, clearer skin, lighter, less painful menstrual periods, pms relief, and treatment of endometriosis, they are unable to obtain the pill because it is identified as a “contraceptive.” The number and frequency of prescriptions given for erectile dysfunction drugs to treat “other” problems is much more limited than the many uses of birth control pills, but men get their medicines covered, and women don’t.
Ignoring fundamental fairness, equal treatment under the law, and the U.S. Constitution, there is an economic reason to cover and encourage use of birth control. Even ignoring the societal and economic cost of unwanted children, the importance of women in the work force is critical!
In 2010 58.6% of women in the United States were labor force participants. That means 72 million women were contributing to the U.S. economy. Four years ago women comprised 47% of the total labor force in the United States. Unemployment rates for women have been lower than for men, 8.6% compared to 10.5%. Women-owned business have an economic impact of $3 Trillion dollars, account for 23 million jobs, and 16% of all U.S. jobs. If the American businesses owned by women were a separate country, those women would be the country with the 5th largest GDP in the world, surpassing France, Italy, and the United Kingdom.
The surge in the economic contribution of women didn’t happen until after the revolution caused by the pill. Women described the advent of the pill as“liberating” and “revolutionary.” As our national debt escalates out of control, part of the solution must be to grow the economy and increase jobs. The impact of the national debt, by definition, is a ratio of debt to the national GDP. Part of the solution to the economic crisis in America must be to increase the GDP. Because women have become a critical part of the economic future of the country, it would be economic suicide to implement any policy that would restrict women from the work force. Our families are dependant on income of women. In 2012 47.4% of all families relied on the employment of the male and female members to support the family. Eight Percent of all families relied on the sole income of the woman for support. Thus over half of all families in the country are dependant on the employment of women. That makes the American economy dependent on women.
If you are an American; if you are concerned about the economic future of the country; regardless of your political persuasion; regardless of your gender or sexual preference; then it is essential to demand that the war on women come to an end immediately. When women have the ability to control the economic future of the country, it is critical that they also have the ability to control their contraceptive needs.