What is Minnesota telling its women? Are we being used as political tools and punished most severely by budget crunching? Who is making the decisions that are causing even more inequality between the sexes at a time when women were finally experiencing progress?
I must blame regressive politics and its hosts: the House Republicans. They have forced many bills that will negatively affect women this legislative session. Take, for instance, the House Health and Human Services Omnibus bill. The bill proposes that no state-funded medical facility employee be allowed to directly counsel a patient to have an abortion. This means that when a woman walks into a clinic with an unwanted pregnancy, abortion will not be given as an option. But that same bill states that women working for a small business will have health-care benefits that do not provide state-mandated coverage for services such as mammograms, cervical checks and pregnancy and prenatal care expenses. In addition, these employers, as written in the bill, would be exempt from complying with the Human Rights Act!
The estimated cost of having a child today is about $14,000. If a potential female employee was planning on having a child, these insufficient benefits would basically be like holding a “women need not apply” sign in front of her face. But maybe that is what the House Republicans want in the first place, because women, of course, belong at home – right?
Why is it that in the same bill, the House Republicans are telling women that they cannot have an abortion, nor can they have insurance benefits to cover the medical costs of having a child? Does this make you feel like a human being?
What is Minnesota telling its working women? Sen. Jane Ranum, DFL-Minneapolis, has introduced a “pay equity” bill to put compliance reporting back to every three years – what it has been for the last 20 years – until the House Republicans sneaked an amendment into the omnibus budget bill last legislative session that changed the reporting system to every five years.
Ranum’s bill has reached the Senate floor, but has yet to have a hearing in the House, and most likely will not have one at all. Now women’s pay will most likely decrease, benefits will suffer and women will receive no retroactive pay for an extra two years if their jurisdiction is found to be out of compliance. All of this is just so the House Republicans can pay back a favor to local governments for taking away a portion of their aid. Women, how does that make you feel – like a political tool or a citizen?
Minnesota has taken away much funding from child care as well. There is a bill to restore some child care funding, deemed the “Mississippi bill.” We are only now trying to match other states’ low funding standards, but we have yet to do so. Why is it that House Republicans care so much about an unborn child, but once it comes out of the uterus they couldn’t care less?
Women: Take a stand! These bills affect you, and if your voice is not heard it will only get worse. Politics is a game, but what the House Republicans do not understand is that they are playing with high stakes in women’s lives, and women know it. It is clear these elected officials are not afraid to voice their opinions, as seen in the harmful, degrading bills they are pushing. Don’t be afraid to voice yours with a phone call to your representatives and a vote in November!
Jackie Hartwig is a College of Liberal Arts senior. Send comments to [email protected]