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Coffee & Conversation - The Republican War on Women

UA Progressive Action Coffee and Conversation
Saturday, April 7, 2012, 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM
30 Attendees

Speaker: Lauren Harmon, Director of the Ohio Democratic Women’s Caucus

Carolyn Casper introduced the speaker. Lauren Harmon will give us a brief overview of the war against women.

Thanks so much for having me this morning. Moved out here from Phoenix AZ ten months ago. I’m doing work here that I love as the women’s caucus director. Never in my wildest dreams did I think the top tier Republicans would be going after rights I thought had been settled before I was born.

There is the heartbeat bill, HB 121. It would outlaw abortion between 18 and 60 days, as soon as a doctor can detect a heartbeat. There are all these bills to defund Planned Parenthood. They don’t seem to care that 90% of what Planned Parenthood does is basic health service.

The effort to get the Personhood Amendment on the ballot is not well funded at the moment, but if Romney needs help in this swingiest of swing states, Republican money could be dumped into the Personhood Amendment and bring it forward to energize the base.

The Blunt Amendment was put forward to allow any employer to choose to not fund any medical procedure that they claim is morally objectionable. Although it failed in Congress, there is a similar bill that Ohio Republicans introduced, but put on hold until after the primary. They may be planning to reintroduce it this spring. Who knows what things someone might refuse? Lung cancer treatment if due to smoking? AIDS drugs?

We have presidential candidates railing against contraception. Rush Limbaugh calls a woman a ‘slut’ on his program before millions of people for 3 days because she dared to stand up before Congress to testify about how important contraception is for many women.

Xavier University employees and students are going to be shut out of birth control in the middle of the plan year. Apparently, they just noticed that they had been offering it … for years. 

This isn’t just about health care or abortion. There is even an attack on the Violence Against Women Act. It seems it helps too many poor and minority women.  This all seems an effort to put women in ‘’their place’ so women can’t control their own bodies or their own lives.

Sherrod Brown is a real champion for women’s issues. Foster Friese (the aspirin-between-the-knees guy) has already maxed out contributions to Josh Mandel.

I believe the Republicans are giving us a gift. Sherrod Brown is ahead with women by 18%. So we need to get women out to the polls in November.

The only way to fix this is to elect Democrats up and down the ticket. This election is personal. If we don’t win this fight, we are going to be VERY sorry. Women will have to refight the fights we thought we won decades ago.


Q: Scott Walker has just put through a bill to defund enforcement of equal pay for equal work in Wisconsin. Is that coming to Ohio?

A: The RGA (Republican Governor’s Association) talks. It’s not coming up now, but it could easily come down quickly.


Q: I’m concerned that the rhetoric you’re using is too strong, and that the Democratic Party is using things that would never happen. Companies would never use the Blunt Amendment to deny women cancer treatment. Lawsuits would stop that from ever happening.

A: The problem is … we don’t know what will happen. Once the law permits employers to deny coverage, then on what basis do people sue?


Q: I’m a law professor specializing in reproductive rights. We know that these laws have already been used against low-income women, such as prosecuting women who use drugs or alcohol during pregnancy.


Q: We couldn’t imagine what is already happening, I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say these laws are likely to result in unintended consequences.


Q: We make an assumption that everyone here has insurance. But it’s not so. A lot of people are not just underinsured, they’re uninsured.

A: I’ve been unemployed between campaigns. I’ve used Planned Parenthood for my health care.


Q: The reason LGBT folks want marriage instead of civil unions is because

marriage is referenced in many laws and calling it a marriage means that it applies to all those existing laws. The same thing occurs with personhood. Getting a fetus declared a person might affect all kinds of other laws in unexpected ways.


Q: Everyone should read Don’t Think of an Elephant by George Lakoff which explains how Democrats should use language effectively like the Republicans have been doing for the last 40 years. (Note: This month’s Book Club selection.)


Q: By “a woman’s place,” what do people mean?

A1: Pregnant, barefoot and in the kitchen.

A2: Some men think women should be subservient to them. We need to get to the men by getting to their wives. I changed my opinion on women when my wife gave me The Feminine Mystique.


Q: How can we find out more we can do about Xavier University?

A: This time it was a political decision to thumb their nose at the President. We are looking for people affected by the decision to make noise. Please sign up for my WOW e-newsletter, which is weekly, or sometimes twice a week. We will not spam you.


Q: In Upper Arlington, there are a lot of Rockefeller Republicans. You hear a lot of “Health Care is very nice, but it would break the bank, so we have to support the Republican candidate.”

A: We are focusing on independents and we have some good tools in VoterFile to identify how persuadable they are.


Q: If you want a tubal ligation after birth you can’t get it at a Catholic Hospital. Ditto in-vitro fertilization. The moral line is being used in hospitals and doctor’s offices.


Q: One of the reasons to have preventive care such as contraceptives is to reduce costs for insurers. Will insurance costs at Xavier go up if contraceptives aren’t offered and there are more unwanted pregnancies? 

A: That’s a good point.


Book club: We will be reading Don’t Think of an Elephant this month. We will meet Monday, April 23, 2012 at 7:30 PM in the UA Public Library, Meeting Room A (upstairs). 

Amber talked about her work for the Sherrod Brown campaign. She’d love it if you guys would come help us out. She has forms to have you fill out that will help the campaign target information to your interests. For people who are on Facebook or Twitter, it would be great if people could repost our messages.

Petitions for the redistricting amendment will be available about the 11th of April. A blast email will go out. It’s going to need all our efforts.

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