Worst of 2011
1. The War on Women
From the very first day of the 112th Congress in January of this year, House Republicans made it clear that their #1 priority was not to address joblessness or the economy, but to launch an all out assault on women’s rights. Beginning with HR 3 all the way to HR 358, it was as though not a bill could pass unless it included a measure to cut funding to providers of women’s health care, redefine rape, restrict access to abortion even in the most dire of cases, or slash and burn programs like Medicaid or Head Start that help elderly women, low-income women and families. Not even the threat of a government shutdown would stop them-- proving to women and men alike that they weren’t there to govern, simply to prove a point. Thankfully, our Democratic majority in the Senate prevented these bills from progressing. The members of the House GOP kept us on our toes right up until the very end, jeopardizing the extension of critical unemployment benefits and temporary tax-cuts for middle-class families. We’ve already put a handful of House GOP freshman ‘On Notice’ and can’t wait to kick into high gear to get our amazing class of strong, pro-choice women candidates elected in 2012.
2. Personhood Amendments
Mississippi voters spoke up and overwhelmingly shot down a Personhood Amendment this November that would have criminalized all forms of abortion, most forms of hormonal birth control, and possibly in-vitro fertilization. Unfortunately, similar measures have now popped up in Wisconsin, Virginia, and Colorado with more to come. We can only hope that voters in these states will follow the path of Mississippians and knock back these blatant assaults on women’s rights.
3. The 2012 GOP Presidential Field
Oh, where to begin on the GOP Presidential field. Well, for starters the majority of the candidates proudly touted their anti-choice positions by signing the Susan B. Anthony Pledge. Then there’s the stirring up of controversy over the HPV vaccination, the sexual harassment allegations against one time frontrunner Herman Cain, and, well, pretty much anything Rick Santorum says. With nearly every word the GOP Presidential primary candidates have made it clear where they stand : on the side of big business and misinformation and against women.
4. The Death of Truth
Whether we were listening to Senator Jon Kyl bumble and grumble that abortions make up "well over 90% of what Planned Parenthood does" (that number is only about thirty times too high, for the record) or watching Rep. Michele Bachmann state on national television that HPV vaccinations cause mental retardation, we couldn’t help but be depressed at this new normal, in which assertions about women’s health care are tossed around without regard for that little thing we call “the truth.” It’s pretty clear that this trend isn’t good for democracy, and it’s certainly not good for women.
5. Representative Allen West (FL-22)
Take your pick, because Rep. Allen West does a fine job of not only saying, but proclaiming nearly anything and everything that crosses his mind, no matter how vile or un-ladylike. To kick off the year he sent an e-mail to DNC Chairwoman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in which he stated that she was "vile...despicable,” and "not a Lady.” He supported the Ryan plan and complained that women are trying to neuter men in Congress. He voted to defund Planned Parenthood, cut nutrition programs for pregnant women, and eliminate local funding for Title IX programs. To close out the year Rep. West was making headlines again, this time for comparing Democrats to Nazis. You just can’t make this stuff up. What we can do, however, is help elect Lois Frankel and other strong women candidates to the House in 2012.