Roy Blunt’s coming off as a little self-righteous these days. On his congressional Web page the first thing I encountered was a news release about how we need to “find a solution” to the impasse on his Zika bill that has been stalled over almost the entire mosquito season. According to Blunt, who seemed very willing to let the bill languish during his seven week summer vacation, we need to do so “immediately.”
Seems Democrats have repeatedly voted against the current better-than-nothing-but-still-bad bill which was brokered and partially crafted by Blunt. So, you see, it’s Blunt’s ugly child that’s getting dissed and he’s not going to take it laying down. Especially not just before an election.
Why, you ask, are Democrats so determined to undermine the health of Americans faced with the spread of a dire disease? Seems it’s at least partially because they’re determined to defend the general health of Americans, particularly American women. Confused yet? Well, read on.
Republicans who tell us that they think that Zika is a pressing emergency have loaded the bill with provisions that, among other things, would deny Zika funds to Planned Parenthood in Puerto Rico where the virus is running rampant. Do you think anyone in the Republican party with minimal sanity – if there were any such animals – would have supposed that Democrats would allow them to use this emergency to set a precedent for denying funds to an agency so vital to the reproductive health of American women? It’s a dumb move even if you’re thinking only about the spread of Zika. Planned Parenthood specializes in reproductive health and contraception. Zika can be spread from infected individuals through sexual activity and can cause severe birth defects. See the connection? Too bad Republicans can’t.
Texas offers an instructive example of just how important Planned Parenthood can be when it comes to reproductive health in general and underlines why it needs to be defended from legislative inroads even aside from its potential impact in lessening the fallout from Zika. Texas cut funding to Planned Parenthood a few years ago. As Laura Basset of the Huffington Post reports, “an estimated 155,000 Texas women have lost access to birth control and basic preventative health care since 2011,” and “last year, the state ranked sixth worse in the nation in a report on women’s health, economic security and political empowerment by the Center for American Progress.”
That’s not the only way Blunt’s Zika bill would risk Americans’ long-term health. Republicans are also attempting to use the bill to weaken restrictions on pesticide use in bodies of water. They are seeking to nullify the provisions of the Clean Water Act and reopen the door to widespread pollution of American water ways which is not so good for children and other growing things. And the cherry on the sunday? The proposed GOP changes would do little to combat Zika mosquitoes since current rules don’t actually hinder necessary spraying – but they would make commercial pesticide interests very happy.
In his news release Blunt claims to be busy meeting with researchers and officials of the Center of Disease Control (CDC) about Zika funding, but if he’s really serious about the need to fight the spread of Zika, he needs to be twisting the arms of all the GOPers who think that a health crisis is a perfect opportunity to sneak in a few goodies for campaign contributors and the GOP’s hardcore, anti-abortion base – Americans’ health and well-being be dammed.