GOP tries hard to offend women

It’s almost as if Nevada’s U.S. Senator Dean Heller is trying to lose votes in his presumed reelection campaign next year. He’s been identified as the Republican senator most in peril in 2018 since he hails from a blue state that voted for Hillary Clinton where Democrats continue to lead Republicans with a significant voter registration advantage. You’d think he would be doing his best to attract Nevada’s voting base, but instead he continues to disappoint women in particular by voting against our needs at every turn.

Heller’s most recent blunder was revealed last month when he cast the deciding vote to overturn a rule from the Obama administration that prevents states from denying pass-through federal funds to Planned Parenthood for family planning services. It was a mystifying decision as Heller was expected to side with several moderate Republicans, like Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, to oppose the measure, which is really about putting Planned Parenthood out of the business of providing legal abortions at some of its facilities.

But pressure from Republican leaders flipped our Nevada senator, causing a tie vote, which then allowed Vice President Pence to swoop in and gleefully save the day for Republicans by taking away family planning services from thousands of U.S. women. What a guy.

As Senator Patty Murray noted on the Senate floor, no Republicans even made the case for why the change was needed. She warned them, “We’re noticing. Women are noticing.” And it’s true that women are noticing lots of actions in D.C. these days. For example, we noticed the pictures of the negotiations on the failed American Health Care Act when a roomful of old white men decided maternity care no longer needed to be included in a standard insurance policy. We also noticed when just four of Trump’s 24 Cabinet positions were filled by women. And we cringed when the President asked a roomful of women leaders if they had ever heard of Susan B. Anthony, as if he should be given credit for educating us about a feminist icon.

It’s no wonder that many women feel like we’re fighting for our most basic rights, given the national obsession by Republicans to make decisions about our bodies, led by a misogynistic president with a long history of reducing women to their physical attributes and then rudely dismissing those who don’t meet his sexist standards. It’s disgusting to see this disrespect manifest itself in ever more cruel dimensions, especially when other political leaders eagerly join Trump in diminishing women’s rights, seemingly without a backlash from women in their own party.

It’s been reassuring to see Nevada’s state legislators take a very proactive approach this session by doing everything they can to protect access to women’s health services through a variety of bills, including one that sets up a mechanism to direct funds specifically to Planned Parenthood, in response to the national Republican desire to destroy the vital health provider. Other bills likely to survive this week’s committee passage deadline include a bill requiring employers to make accommodations for nursing mothers so women don’t have to express breast milk in a bathroom stall. Another new law would extend protections to pregnant women in the workforce.

The Nevada Legislature ratified the Equal Rights Amendment last month, an accomplishment 45 years in the making. And now female legislators have begun the arduous process of amending the state’s constitution to outlaw the “pink tax” on feminine hygiene products, arguing these are items of necessity, not luxury. Yet another bill would tell employers they have to provide at least three days of paid sick leave to their employees each year.

It all adds up. Remember the cliché that elections have consequences when you vote in 2018.