As many of you may be aware, John Boehner (pronounced “BAY-ner“) was sworn in on Wednesday as the new Speaker of the House. As “GettingToKnowYou” summarized in their recent post, Boehner (R-OH) is a definite conservative. I watch the news a lot, so I wasn’t surprised by anything I read, but it did prompt me to read some more about him. There were a few e-mails (from various organizations) in my inbox about Boehner’s upcoming swearing-in that I had been meaning to read, and some talked about his particularly anti-choice agenda. What I learned surprised me.
Let’s start here, with a video from NARAL. It features John Boehner speaking in Pittsburgh, PA at the National Right to Life Committee Annual Convention in June of 2010. The video is not shocking, but it gives you a taste of what we’re in store for.
Now I want to talk about where this rhetoric leads us. What does it mean that this man is our new Speaker of the House? To answer that, we have to deal with the reality that…
Since entering the House in 1990, Boehner has cast 142 votes on abortion and other reproductive-rights issues. All 142 were anti-choice. That’s right: in 20 years in Congress, Boehner voted in favor of a woman’s right to choose exactly zero times.
– Nancy Keenan, President, NARAL
It’s not surprising at all then that he was endorsed by the Republican National Coalition for Life, which, as Nancy Keenan explains in an article on the Huffington Post…
…requires all endorsed candidates to "indicate they are faithfully pro-life, and do not justify abortion for innocent babies who are conceived through rape or incest."
She also lists several of his most offensive 142 anti-choice votes, which include:
(you can follow the link to see the bill #s) (emphasis is the author’s)
Boehner voted eight times against clinic protection for women and their doctors.
John Boehner even voted (twice!) to deny federal funding of abortion care to survivors of rape and incest.
He voted 17 times to deny women in the military – who are defending our freedom overseas – the right to use their own, private funds for abortion care at overseas military hospitals.
He voted twice against insurance coverage of contraception for federal employees – a provision of the law that ensures health plans cover birth control equally with other prescription medications.
He voted twice against the Family and Medical Leave Act, which allows Americans to take time off work to care for a child or sick family-member.
This is where details come in handy. When you see a headline reading “New Speaker Boehner is Anti-Choice,”…what does that mean? What does “anti-choice” mean? Or, more likely, “pro-life?” When someone tells you they’re Pro-Life, or they tell you they’re Anti-Choice, what do they mean? Do you ask them? When the average voter, or the average Republican or Democrat or Independent hears that Speaker Boehner is “Pro-Life,” what comes to mind for them? What does that mean?
They may think “Pro-Life” and an image of a cute, giggling baby comes to mind. But look at the details. Look at the votes. John Boehner voted eight times that it was okay to harass and abuse women, doctors, and staff at reproductive health clinics, regardless of the reasons those women were there. He voted twice to say that he should have the power to decide when low-income survivors of rape or incest become mothers. He voted 17 times to tell the women of our military that while they knew how to keep this country safe, they couldn’t handle financing their personal reproductive medical care. He voted twice that female federal employees should be discriminated against in their prescription drug coverage. And, he voted twice against being able to take off work to care for a sick child or family member. Where’s the cute, giggling baby now?
THIS is why the details are important. THIS is why we STILL have to talk about choice and abortion and reproductive rights. This fight is NOT over. John Boehner was just sworn in. He’s just getting started, folks. We have to be vigilant, and we have to hold him accountable. Yes, he’s “Anti-Choice,” yes, he’s “Pro-Life,” but it is our job to make sure that people know what that means.
That means that we have to TALK about it.
So it’s time to get comfortable saying the word abortion.
Because really, if you’ve never said the word out loud…how do you expect to fight for your freedom to choose when or whether to become a mother?
Welcome to the 112th Congress. The fight begins today.