One Year Later: Pence, Obama, and the Fight to Protect Women's Health
As we approach the one-year anniversary of the defeat of the Pence amendment — an amendment to the House Budget that would have effectively defunded Planned Parenthood — we have a lot to reflect upon. Last year, the government nearly shut down over funding for Planned Parenthood, but is 2012 any improvement? If state legislation like Virginia’s mandatory ultrasound bill and amendments like the one proposed by Senator Roy Blunt — which would have allowed any employer to deny insurance coverage for birth control based on a “moral conviction” — are any indication, we still have a long way to go on our path to protecting women’s health.
It was a little over a year ago when Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) proposed an amendment that would have barred Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds that go to providing essential and lifesaving services to millions of women each year. While the amendment swiftly passed in the Republican-dominated House, only to be defeated in the Senate, the fight was far from over. Republicans in Congress threatened to shut down the government to deny access to preventive care for millions of women.
Ultimately the Pence amendment was defeated in a vote by the Senate on April 14. But the national attention paid to the issue and the outcry of over a million new supporters standing with Planned Parenthood started a trend.
Since then, women’s health has become a critical issue of the 2012 election. With the Republican presidential candidates threatening to “get rid of” Planned Parenthood and eliminate Title X funding, the fight to protect women’s health continues.
But not every politician is as out of touch as Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, or the other presidential candidates. President Obama is standing with women everywhere and reaffirming his support for women’s health. When Republican leaders threatened to shut down the entire government over funding for Planned Parenthood, the president’s answer was simple: “No.”
He knows that “protecting women’s health is a mission that stands above politics.” And he understands that “…Women are not an interest group. They're mothers and daughters and sisters and wives — they're half of this country. And they're perfectly capable of making their own choices about their health.” Amen!
So as we head into the one year-anniversary of a watershed moment in the history of Planned Parenthood and women’s health, we’re going to dedicate the month of April to reflect upon the last year, and remember who stood with us, who didn’t, and who we should be watching as we advance towards the election, when politicians will be held accountable.