STOCKBRIDGE

The new breed of Republicans is shaking bones I thought had been buried. I did not pay too much attention to the various amendments they made to the affordable health care act and submitted for approval in the past few weeks because there were so many of them, but my ears did prick up when I heard they were still trying to eliminate women's health care.

This time, they dug up the "conscience clause" which allows individual employers and insurance companies to opt out of paying for procedures and assistance for women based on their religious and moral beliefs. There is no doubt that Republicans are still on the scent of the war against women. But women are not about to let these dogs have their day. Almost every woman knows that quality health care has nothing to do with conscience or religion or morals, and everything to do with improving the health and well-being of women and their families.

A few days before the House voted to shut down the government unless it agreed to its proposed amendments to the Affordable Care Act, Sen. Elizabeth Warren addressed the Senate and focused on the idea of allowing employers and insurance companies to refuse to cover women's preventive care. This included refusing to cover birth control, HPV testing, breast-feeding services and counseling for domestic violence.


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You are probably wondering who could possibly have even a twinge of conscience about providing domestic violence counseling? Not a single Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of the reauthorization bill for the Violence Against Women Act. This had nothing to do with their feelings about women, mind you. They opposed the language in the bill that included gays and illegal immigrants.

These are the same Republicans who tried to shut down the government in 2011 because of Planned Parenthood's preventive health care services. Obviously, you can't teach old dogs new tricks. Twenty seven million women have been able to receive preventive health care without a copay. When the Affordable Healthcare Act goes into full effect, 47 million women will benefit from the investment in their health and family planning.

Why are they still eager to attack and abolish women's health care provisions? Sen. Warren responded to their attack. "The Republicans have decided that the single most important issue facing our nation is to change the law so that employers can deny women access to birth control ºcoverage. In fact, letting employers decide whether women can get coverage is so important, that Republicans are willing to shutter the government and potentially tank the economy over whether women can get access to birth control in the year 2013, not the year 1913. I have a daughter and two granddaughters and I will never vote to let a group of backward-looking ideologues cut access to birth control."

The Republicans did back down eventually, and the Senate removed the language from their proposed amendment -- but not until a pack of thousands of outraged women demanded they do so. Sen. Patty Murray explained, "Over the last 24 hours, women across America successfully stood up and spoke out against this shameful attack on women's health. In e-mails, tweets, and Facebook posts, they emphatically told House Republicans that their ideological attempt to cut off access to health care has no place in their last minute political games."

The Republicans can shut down the government, but they cannot shut down women. Women are not going to roll over and play dead when what Warren calls, "a gang of anarchists" decides to corner us. My conscience tells me that a law that provides annual exams, breast and cervical cancer screenings and immunizations, coverage for women with preexisting conditions, expanded coverage for young adults until they are 26, health insurance for women who do not have it, as well as birth control, is good and necessary, and one most women and men will fight to keep.

Michelle Gillett is a regular Eagle contributor.