If you wanted proof the Republican Party no longer represents women, here it is

Just 29 of 201 voted to reinstate the Violence Against Women Act on the same day seven women were brutally gunned down in Georgia

Hannah Selinger
New York
Thursday 18 March 2021 16:27 GMT
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WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 17: Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) recounts her own experiences with domestic violence during a news conference with Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee (D-TX) about the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act in the Rayburn Room at the U.S. Capitol on March 17, 2021 in Washington, DC. The House of Representatives is set to vote on reauthorizing the act. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 17: Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) recounts her own experiences with domestic violence during a news conference with Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee (D-TX) about the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act in the Rayburn Room at the U.S. Capitol on March 17, 2021 in Washington, DC. The House of Representatives is set to vote on reauthorizing the act. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted 244 to 172 to reinstate the lapsed Violence Against Women Act, a piece of legislation that had not been renewed during the Trump administration. Democrats voted as a bloc in support of the act, which was originally established in 1994 to investigate and prosecute violent crimes against women; allow civil redress for those who had not had a day in criminal court (or even for those who had); and apply automatic restitution on those convicted. Only 29 of 201 Republicans voted for this act.

The Republican defection is stunning, particularly in the wake of the bloody Tuesday massacre in Atlanta, Georgia, where seven women were brutally gunned down. But then, female life has never been of premium importance to the Republican Party. It’s why legislation propagated by the right is routinely anti-woman. It’s why reproductive rights, equal pay, and discriminatory practices have held the spotlight for so long. It’s why three million women were forced to leave the workforce during the pandemic, giving up careers to take care of their children, while a Republican administration did nothing to staunch the bleeding. 

Republicans have done more than just ignore the needs of women, though. They have actively rallied against us, diminishing our rights in callous and clear ways. In 2019, the Trump administration adopted a rule that would enforce health insurance that offered coverage under the Affordable Care Act to bill consumers separately for premiums that covered abortion (as a reminder, abortion has been a federal right of all American women since the Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade in 1973). 

A year before this Affordable Care Act squabble, the Department of Health and Human Services — Republican-run, at the time — established that insurers who disagreed with contraception for religious reasons could refuse to cover it. (That decision was later upheld by the Supreme Court.) If you’re wondering how disproportionate the labor of contraception is when it comes to men and women, there’s data for that. A 2018 study conducted by the National Institute of Health concluded that “the burden of preventing pregnancy falls disproportionately on women” and that “clinicians discursively constructed these responsibilities as women’s” — a problem made worse by the decision to disrupt insurance-covered birth control. 

In 2017, in an attempt to gut equal pay for women, the Republican-run Equal Employment Opportunity Commission halted the pay data collection rule, which determined whether or not women were being fairly compensated in the workforce. 

But Republican attacks on women go back much farther than Trumpism (itself the political poster child for attacking female autonomy). Consider the Hyde Amendment, the 40-year-old legislative work of former Congressman Henry Hyde, which determined that federal monies could not be directed to abortion services. The road to Republicanism is littered with the bodies of women. Yesterday’s vote was merely a confirmation of the party’s true thoughts on the matter.

In the past several weeks, Americans have witnessed all manner of faux-outrage. Republicans aresimply outraged that the estate of Dr Seuss would opt to remove several of its own books from circulation due to racist tropes. They are outraged that Democrats have not given Donald Trump credit for the Biden-propelled vaccine rollout that will lead to the end of the pandemic in the United States. They are in disbelief that a Black woman could possibly take the stage at the Grammy Awards and perform a song dedicated to the vagina. They simply cannot fathom the idea of a pregnant member of the military serving her country. 

The idea of women being beat to death by their partners, though? The raw reality of women being tracked and gunned down at massage parlors and spas? No outrage there. 

This lack of outrage comes after years and years of chipping away at rights — human rights, as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would say, because women’s rights are human rights. This tradition of looking the other way is systemic. Republicans have enacted their hatred of women through the system for as long as legislation has allowed them to do so. 

It’s not worth applauding the 29 Republicans who did vote to renew the Violence Against Women Act. It should have been 201 of them, because there is no partisan politicking when it comes to attacks based on race, gender, or sexuality. And so I won’t applaud those representatives for doing the obviously decent thing. I will ask, though, now and in the future, what the Republican Party sees as its birthright moving forward. Because if you aren’t with us, you are against us, and Republicans have made this their goal. They are against us. There is no going back. 

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