Last week, Donna Edwards was sworn into Congress as the 91st woman serving this session.
At the same time, we found out that the House dropped a provision in a bill that would return the option of providing low cost or free birth control to pharmaceutical companies. I think we've gone over this, but here's how it goes
- the 2005 Deficit Reduction Act provided that the government get the lowest cost of drugs, including nominal pricing
- pharmaceutical companies that manufactured birth control used to give places like university health centers and Planned Parenthood birth control at nominal prices (free or really inexpensive)
- these providers could then pass on the savings - college birth control prices are often free or a fraction of market price (using the term "market" very loosely as it applies to anything health-related)
- Eli Crowley (NY) and Barack Obama (IL) introduced a fix, which was then put in the War Supplemental bill moving through the House and Senate
- May 23, the provision was stripped, and many said that the President wouldn't sign the bill with the provision in tact
So what does Donna Edwards have to do with all this? The United States is around 68th in international ranking for the proportion of women in office. Women's issues, even if the Democrats purport to support them, just aren't a priority. I don't know if it was Jill or Linda Hirschman who said it, but the Dems don't really support women's issues, since, well, where else are we to go?
This War Supplemental is a great example. Are you kidding me that President Bush would veto the war funding bill with this small no-cost provision in it? And then the Democrats back down? Did they know that they're in charge? If the Dems are in charge, and the Dems won't include this provision in a large bill that absolutely must go forward to fund the war effort, including the safety of the troops, why ever would the Dems back down on this? Is President Bush really going to refuse to fund his own war, and pull the troops out? Seems like a really good place to be, if you're a Democrat drafting this bill.
And so my point: I can't see good proof that folks in Congress care about the issues we do. Which is why I'm involved in the Women's Campaign Forum. Maybe you are involved in Emily's List or something similar for Republican women. If you're not involved, why not? Are you running for office? Why not? Women who run for office win at the same rates as men, but women are less inclined to run.
If we want Congress to pay attention to our needs, we need to be in Congress; if we want the Board of Education to accurately represent our educational needs, including comprehensive sex ed, we need to be on the Board of Education; if we want the state to take action on abortion an health insurance laws, we need to be in state elected positions.