Welcome to Dispatches, your round-up of the latest news from the frontlines of the War on Women. This week we’ll be focusing our coverage on the Democratic National Convention and the upcoming election. Have a story from your state or an idea on how to push back? Share them here and fight back against the War on Women.
For starters, Democrats forcefully proclaim themselves the true party of family values. But more specifically, the Democrats outline the details of what it means to be a party of family values:
Itís time we stop just talking about family values and start pursuing policies that truly value families. The President and Democrats have cut taxes for every working American family, and expanded the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit. We believe that all parents and caregivers Ė regardless of gender Ė need more flexibility and support in the workplace. We support passing the Healthy Families Act, broadening the Family and Medical Leave Act, and partnering with states to move toward paid leave. We have invested in expanding and reforming Head Start and grants to states to raise standards and improve instruction in their early learning programs, and we support expanding the
Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. We must protect our most vulnerable children by supporting our foster care system, adoption programs for all caring parents, grandparents, and caregivers, and protecting children from violence and neglect. We recognize that caring for family members and managing a household is real and valuable work.
And because the task of raising families shouldn’t just fall to the women, the platform specifically looks to the role fathers play in healthy families.
President Obamaís administration has offered men who want to be good fathers extra support. We have bolstered community and faith-based groups focused on fatherhood, partnered with businesses to offer opportunities for fathers to spend time with their kids at the bowling alley or ballpark, and worked to help deployed dads connect with their children. We all have a stake in forging stronger bonds between fathers and their children.
It’s impossible to have functional families without health, a fact not lost on the Democrats.
We support parents and their children as they work to lead healthier lives. With prevention and treatment initiatives on obesity and public health, Democrats are leading the way on supporting healthier, more physically active families and healthy children.
That is how you support families, by understanding they come in all shapes and sizes, offering tax relief to help those families thrive and promoting laws that punish those who try to take advantage of working parents to benefit their own bottom line. It’s a clear difference from Republicans who believe working families should shoulder the burden of low wages and insufficient benefits so that this country’s wealthiest can pool even greater wealth.
Democrats also offer a clear difference in vision in abortion and women’s right specifically, but that much we could anticipate.
President Obama Ė the son of a single mother and the father of two daughters Ė understands that women arenít a special interest group. They are more than half of this country, and issues that affect women also affect families. That is why the first bill he signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which helps women fight back when they are paid less than men, and why we continue to fight to overcome Republican opposition and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act to help stop gender discrimination in pay before it starts. And that is why the Justice Department and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, led by President Obamaís appointees, have investigated and prosecuted numerous violations of the nationís civil rights laws, and obtained more than $140 million in relief for victims of gender discrimination. We Democrats will continue to support efforts to ensure that workers can combat gender discrimination in the workplace and to protect women against pregnancy discrimination. And thatís why we support passing the Healthy Families Act, broadening the Family and Medical Leave Act, and partnering with states to move toward paid leave.
Importantly, the platform specifically recognizes that women’s issues ARE economic issues.
We understand that economic issues are womenís issues, and the challenges of supporting and raising a family are often primarily a womanís responsibility. Thatís why putting Americans back to work is Job One. Thatís why the Affordable Care Act especially helps women by guaranteeing they and their families wonít become uninsured when they lose their jobs. Thatís why this administration strengthened Medicare and Medicaid for millions of women and families. And thatís why the Affordable Care Act is ending health insurance discrimination against women, and provides women with free access to preventive care,including prenatal screenings, mammograms, cervical cancer screening, breast-feeding supports, and contraception. We understand that womenís rights are civil rights. Thatís why we reaffirm our support for the ERA, recommit to enforcing Title IX, and will urge ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Thatís why we are committed to ending violence against women, why Vice President Joe Biden originally wrote and championed the Violence Against Women Act during his time in the Senate, and why we support reauthorizing and strengthening it now. The President and the Democratic Party believe that women have a right to control their reproductive choices. Democrats support access to affordable family planning services, and President Obama and Democrats will continue to stand up to Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood health centers. The Affordable Care Act ensures that women have access to contraception in their health insurance plans, and the President has respected the principle of religious liberty. Democrats support evidence-based and age-appropriate sex education.
Importantly, as the Democratic platform notes, reproductive rights are comprehensive.
The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a womanís right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right. Abortion is an intensely personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor, and her clergy; there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way. We also recognize that health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions. We strongly and unequivocally support a womanís decision to have a child by providing affordable health care and ensuring the availability of and access to programs that help women during pregnancy and after the birth of a child, including caring adoption programs.
On the one hand, there are a lot of good policy points here–including a renewed commitment to the Equal Rights Amendment which, if passed, would end any legal or quasi-legal discrimination against women on the basis of gender. It is long past time for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment and the Democrats should be applauded for the inclusion.
But, on the other hand is the issue of abortion, and on this issue the platform falls short. Yes, it states unequivocal support for Roe v. Wade and the idea that women should have access to abortion services regardless of ability to pay, but it offers no specifics of how Democrats plan to show support. There is no mention of a repeal of the Hyde Amendment which prohibits the use of federal funds from going toward abortions. Nor is there any rebuke of those Democrats in office who consistently vote against choice and reproductive health laws. What’s left is a rather empty promise to “do better” on this issue with no indication of what better would actually look like.
Taken as a whole the platform should be embraced and supported as an articulation of the values of equality and liberty for all that, when implemented, has beaten back the darkest of our political impulses. As these elements have re-emerged within the leadership of the Republican party it is encouraging to see the Democrats stand up again in the name of civil rights and equality. Now the party needs to take that final plunge and support legislation that ensures abortion will be a fundamental right available to every woman in this country whenever she should need it.
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Photo from WarmSleepy via flickr.
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