Senator Jeanne Shaheen is Champ and Rep. Dennis Rehberg is Chump
This week’s champ is Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who has been dedicating much of her time to helping expand abortion coverage for military women who have been victims of sexual assault. She knows women who serve in the military should be afforded the same rights and freedoms that they fight to protect.
Last year, the Defense Department acknowledged 3,191 sexual assaults within the military, and considering the number of unreported assaults, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the number could be as high as 19,000 annually. These numbers are not small. And that’s why Senator Shaheen has been fighting for a change to the policy. That’s why Senator Shaheen has been pushing for an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill that would ensure federal health care plans of military servicewomen included abortion coverage for survivors of rape or incest.
“It’s a real injustice to the more than 200,000 women who are serving on active duty in our military. They should have the same rights to affordable reproductive health services as the people they’re protecting. This is about equality for these women,” said Shaheen. It’s about giving these women the same access to abortion as other federally covered women. For standing up for the women who stand up for us every single day, we’re giving Senator Shaheen this week’s champ title.
Meanwhile, this week’s chump is someone who is already a member of our permanent Chumps gallery. But this week, he really put himself over the top: Congressman Dennis Rehberg.
As chairman of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, Rehberg helped relaunch a whole slew of attacks on women’s health with the introduction of his new budget proposal. The legislation includes a number of revamped attacks from the anti-women’s health playbook including: letting your boss decide whether you can or can’t get birth control coverage, eliminating funding to Planned Parenthood that sees nearly three million patients every year, and eliminating Title X family planning programs that provide health care access to nearly five million low-income women every year.
If it sounds familiar, it’s because it’s very similar to the same budget he introduced last year. The birth control refusal was thrown in for good measure.
It was only a few months ago when Rehberg announced that he “didn’t get it” and that “there is no war on women in Washington.” It’s clear he needs to take a long hard look in the mirror because the legislation he is backing includes everything but the kitchen sink in the women’s health attacks repertoire.
According to Rehberg, “This bill is about making tough choices, setting priorities and doing the right thing.” Well, it seems to us that the choices he’s making have a small impact on the actual budget but a large impact on the women newly denied access to health care.
For his ill-advised priorities and his less than noble choices, we couldn’t think of anyone else who deserved the chump crown more than Rep. Dennis Rehberg.