Women and Business Under a Romney Administration

Forward sign from Obama campaign

If Mitt Romney wins the Presidential election next week, Planned Parenthood is at risk to lose funding.  For millions of women, that equals a loss of access to birth control, health and pre-natal care.  If Romney wins the election, abortion rights are at risk.  Romney has said that he’ll repeal Obamacare.  From there, it’s likely that some employers will deny women’s access to birth control through health insurance because of that employer’s personal moral beliefs.

Romney’s been ducking and dodging on these issues for a long while now, trying to sound both moderate and staunchly conservative at the same time.  But let’s move on to his economic positions for a moment.  He says that small businesses are a key element in saving the American economy.  What Romney isn’t talking about is that women-owned businesses account for almost 29% of all US firms and a good number of those are small businesses.  That means that there are more than 8.3 million women-owned businesses in the US, they employ 7.7 million workers and bring in more than $1.2 trillion dollars in receipts.  This is a good thing, though it’d be great to see those figures go even higher.

Here’s the bad news:  A great many of the women starting and running those businesses are of childbearing years.  If access to birth control is compromised, there will be more unintended pregnancies.  Whether married or single, this will negatively impact the number of women starting up and running a business.  It’s not that pregnant women or mothers of small children can’t run a business, but the reality is that it is more difficult.  (Not everyone is Marissa Mayer.)  Consider the costs.  By one government estimate it costs $235,000 to raise a child and that doesn’t include college.  Childcare is expensive, even on two incomes.  If you have, let’s say, two children (just to make the math easy), the daycare tuition increases twofold.  There are twice as many trips to doctor’s appointments.  Twice as many missed workdays due to a sick child home from school.  That’s two times everything.

Just a few months ago the serious debate questioning whether or not women can have it all emerged from an article in The Atlantic.  I think most of us who had the chance to read the article after working, picking up the kids, forgetting the dry cleaning, realizing we’re out of dog food and pondering if frozen pizza two nights in a row constitutes a bad diet reached a near consensus that’s it just might be impossible to have it all.  Especially if having it all includes having matching socks available any given day of the week.

I’m guessing Mitt didn’t read that article.  I haven’t heard that he’d entered the debate on whether or not women can have it all or how women who cannot control their reproductive functioning will have the time and energy to do things like run businesses, become entrepreneurs and meet the needs of their families.  They’ll be too busy having more kids and scrambling to find adequate prenatal care because the clinic down the street has been closed, shuttered and defunded.

Supporting small business in America means supporting women business owners and workers.  Planning the when and if of motherhood is important if women are to continue on with self-respect and sovereignty.  It is imperative if women are to continue as a growing economic force.  I’m voting for Obama.

The problem is bigger than Akin

I don’t think I need to repeat the unbelievably ignorant comments made by Todd Akin earlier this week.  Please don’t make me repeat them.  It gets my blood pressure up too high, hurts my stomach and the bones in my neck do this weird standing on end thing.

I read an article this morning by Isobel Coleman for McKinsey & Company about women’s rights in the Middle East.  Posted it to Facebook and Scott commented that women’s rights disappeared in Iran in one day.  In.One.Day.  Think about that.  Let’s pick an arbitrary date…umm…let’s say November 7th.  You wake up thinking about having a good cup of coffee before heading off to work.  You reach up for the multi vitamin, extra calcium and birth control pill that you take every morning.  But the little pink saucer of prescription protection isn’t there.  Shit!  Did the cats take your hormones again?

No.  It wasn’t the cats.  It was a force that calls itself Righteous and Right.  Their leader’s twitter handle is @Almighty_One.  It’s an army employing the likes of that sneak-footed minion, Rush Limbaugh.  He could have been the one to break into your house and done a sweep for The Pill, condoms and that  little black bra you slyly refer to as Lucky.

You talk with girlfriends from all over the country to puzzle out the mystery.  Who punched holes in my diaphragm?  Why have my birth control pills been replaced with M & M’s?  Who stole all of my shoes?  What the hell happened?  What changed?

Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny were all paid off by a Republican Super PAC.  They’ve scoured the American countryside and instituted the National Nightstand Protection Act to protect women from possibly infringing upon the ovum they formerly owned. Time to wake up my dears!  A new day has dawned. The forces you didn’t believe would ever take power are not only front and center, but holding court and you’re on trial as a potential destroyer of America’s potential, America’s secret weapon, America’s God-given, heartfelt gushy center–your eggs.

Yeah. I’m pretending Romney won the election and has officially become Ruler of the Free World.  I’m trying to be funny to make a point.  But before I get mean and overly didactic, I just want to say this.  The men, like Akin, making infuriatingly (willfully?) ignorant remarks about rape, women’s bodies, sexuality and family planning are moving in and taking charge unless we get serious.  I don’t want to be too bossy, but it’s time we realize these guys pose a threat.  Maybe you don’t use birth control, maybe you’ll never have an unplanned pregnancy.  But we need to know we’ve got options, that our daughters, friends and family have options.  Real, practical, affordable, supported options.  Don’t let this be stripped away.

Here are some things you can do:

1. Join NARAL or Planned Parenthood.
2.  Support Obama.
3.  Vote on November 6th.
4.  Support local candidates interested in advancing women’s rights.
5.  Share this post and any links, blogs, stories that support women’s rights.
6.  Keep the conversation going by leaving comments on websites, leaving comments for your reps in Congress on their websites and talk about the news with people you know.  Is it always black or white, for or against?  Can we open up a dialogue that respects both sides and our differences while not cramming opinions and judgements down each others’ throats?  What would that conversation look like?  Please share on this point because I’m not very good at getting beyond the black and white in this situation.  My passionate belief in women’s right to reproductive freedom can lead to a bit of throat-cramming judgement.
7.  Share some of your ideas with us.  Share your ideas with the Republican Party.  Tell them their platform banning all abortions (even in the case of rape or incest) is wrong.  And you won’t vote for them if they keep pummeling us this way.


The Personal is Political: Leader Pelosi and Birth Control

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi

Me and Nancy Pelosi

I got word today that Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has scheduled a House Democratic Steering & Policy Committee Hearing for Thursday, 23 Feb. The subject is Women’s Health.  The sole witness will be Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown Law Student blocked from testifying last week at the House Oversight and Government Reform hearing.  The subject of this hearing was birth control and religious freedom.  By now you’ve probably heard about the panel that presented that morning–no women were present.  The afternoon session included two women who spoke out against Obama’s plan for birth control access through insurance.

While I’m glad Leader Pelosi is taking action, I do wish she were rounding out the panel so that we could hear from more people with direct knowledge and a range of experience with this issue.  The majority of Americans favor Obama’s proposed plan and statistics show that 60% of women on the Pill use it to control medical conditions.  I’ve been part of that 60%.

In college, I had such bad cramps that I missed class and exams.  Going on the Pill cleared up that problem.  Years later, I dealt with painful ovarian cysts that resulted in emergency surgery.  My doctor at the time recommended using the Pill to ease this situation.  In the end, I opted to try acupuncture and Chinese herbs because of the side effects from birth control pills.  But I guess the Pill is on the table for me again as I head into my mid-forties and perimenopausal symptoms flare up.  Like so many women, access to birth control is an issue that resonates with me.  The personal has once again become political.

This brings me back to the hearing Leader Pelosi has scheduled for this Thursday.  News of the botched hearing by Republican leaders last week infuriated women and men across the country.  Republican presidential candidates have spoken out against Obama’s plan.  Organizations like Planned Parenthood, UltraViolet and others have circulated petitions in favor of Obama’s plan.  This issue has people speaking out and keeping up on the news.

However, you might have a hard time accessing Thursday’s hearing via video.  Generally, these meetings are covered by the House Recording Studio.  From Pelosi’s press office:

Since the beginning of 2011, the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee has held 8 hearings on various topics.  The House Recording Studio has always either covered these hearings or told us that they could not because their resources were already booked for coverage of standing committees.  This is the first time the Democratic leadership has been told that the HRS cannot cover this hearing because it is a hearing of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.

Leader Pelosi is trying to remedy the Republican exclusion of Sandra Fluke’s testimony from last week’s hearing.  Jennifer Halberkorn published an article in Politico today on Pelosi’s scheduled meeting.  She references a policy that Democrats and Republicans coordinated in 2008 concerning use of the House Recording Studio to lift restrictions on use for leadership.

Salley Wood, a spokeswoman for Republicans on the Committee on House Administration, said the policy wasn’t updated in 2008. Instead, she said the recording studio is operating under policies set in 2005.
Wood said the committee did not play a role in the decision not to broadcast this week’s hearing.
Pelosi’s office said this event is the first in which the studio has not covered a hearing or told Democrats that it couldn’t because of other commitments.

This is a developing story and I’m following up to find out more details about why the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee has been blocked from using the House Recording Studio.  There seems to be some back and forth going on.  Politics as usual?  I don’t want to believe that Republicans would intentionally try to silence women’s voice on the issue of reproductive freedom.