My mother was a pioneer for women’s rights. She worked her way up from a clerical position to production manager of a Detroit steel plant in the 1970s. When she was denied pay equal to that of men she supervised, she had few options but to retire. I, too, have felt the sting of gender discrimination and was thrilled when the first law President Barack Obama signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act. To my dismay, the Romney campaign didn’t appear to know Ledbetter’s story, and VP pick Rep. Paul Ryan voted against the act.
For a party that claims jobs, the economy and less governmental intervention are the primary issues, Republicans have given much attention to intervening in women’s rights. Since 2010, state legislatures have passed 131 laws dealing with restrictions to women’s health care. They adamantly want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which provides access to significant preventive health care for women.
Romney and Ryan want to overturn Roe vs. Wade. Ryan has supported his position by proposing extreme federal legislation. On Jan. 7, 2011, he co-sponsored HR 221 to establish that human life begins with fertilization. It would outlaw IUDs, hormonal birth control, in vitro fertilization and criminalize abortion for any reason, including saving the mother’s life. A version of this “personhood” law was rejected by the Colorado voters by majorities of more than 40 percent in 2008 and 2010. In October 2011, Ryan supported HR 358 allowing federally funded hospitals to refuse to perform abortions, even if a woman would die without it. In February of this year, Ryan co-sponsored HR 3805, which would require unnecessary, invasive ultrasounds for all women seeking to end their pregnancies, regardless of the reasons.
Women have had the right to vote for less than 100 years. We stand on the shoulders of courageous women who were beaten and jailed when they sought the vote before 1920. Women should not take for granted that their rights will be sustained. When casting your vote, I urge all women to consider these Republican attempts to return us to second-class citizens.
Dianne C. Pratt