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March 08, 2012

Rep.Tami Green (D-Lakewood) is the Floor Leader for the Washington State House of Representatives,
By State Rep. Tami Green

(OLYMPIA, WA) -- There are still countries in this world where girls don’t go to school. Where woman aren’t allowed to drive, vote, decide who to marry -- or divorce an abusive husband.

Places where a woman’s testimony in court is officially worth half that of a man’s.

Yet right here in America, a political food fight about health insurance companies offering birth control coverage has morphed into an all-out war on women.

Members of Congress are saying health insurance executives can use religious objections to justify not covering include birth control.

Attacking the Girl Scouts as some kind of shadowy group of radicals in pigtails is no longer considered nutty nonsense.

Mainstream politicians and right-wing agitators claim there’s something sinister about the Girl Scouts, that there are sprinkles of “communism” and “homosexuality” baked into every box of Thin Mints.

Despite women in uniform serving bravely, White House hopeful Rick Santorum says women shouldn’t be allowed in combat because of their “emotions.”

Santorum is also on record stating the only real justification for sex is having babies, birth control is immoral and states have the right to outlaw birth control altogether.

Rush Limbaugh recently said women like college student Sandra Fluke are “sluts” and “prostitutes” for asking for basic health care for women included in health insurance coverage.

Sandra tried to testify on Congress to tell the story of her fellow student who needed birth control pills not for contraception, but medical reasons. Her friend later had to have an ovary removed.

Sandra wasn’t allowed to testify. No woman was allowed to testify about women’s health in Congress that day.

Instead, panels of men argued that idea that “religious liberty” allows your boss – not your doctor – to pick and choose what health care you get.

Here in Washington state, a conservative judge just ruled pharmacists can refuse – because of their religious beliefs – to give customers the Plan B contraceptive, the morning after pill, which is simply a high dose of birth control pills.

God forbid that you get raped and would rather not give birth to your attacker’s child. If the only pharmacist in your small town doesn’t want to dispense that medicine, too bad.

The people leading this new war on women make it sound like we skipped out on the utopia of the past.

You know, the good old days, when women knew their place.

Back then, if you were born of the fairer sex, you didn’t vote. Women couldn’t be doctors, lawyers or professors. Women didn’t own property, because they were considered chattel, the property of their husbands.

We have moved a long way since then.

Our grandmothers and great-grandmothers already fought these battles. They got arrested and thrown in jail until women got the right to vote in 1911. Not in 2011 – in 1911.

They marched and organized so women could go to the same universities as men and have the same careers: police officers and firefighters, lawyers and doctors, jet pilots and astronauts.

To do all the things that “tradition” said women didn’t have the strength, brains or temperament to handle.

So here we are today, in the year 2012, while politicians and special interest groups try to build a bridge to the 1850s in the name of religious liberty.

Liberty isn’t about having Big Brother poke his nose into our bedrooms so he can tell us exactly what to do with our bodies and our lives.

It’s is about freedom.

And there is nothing more fundamental to freedom than being able to choose who to marry, how many kids you want to have and what you do with your life.

The true meaning of liberty is found in our U.S. constitution, in the Bill of Rights and the writings of our nation’s founders, many of whom came across the Atlantic to escape the oppression of nations where the king and the church were the same.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a woman or a man, Republican or a Democrat, libertarian or independent, Methodist or Mormon – we all should embrace the basic idea that when it comes to the most private and personal of freedoms, it’s best to leave each other alone.

Don’t tread on me and I won’t tread on you.

Treading on women is a mistake. Not because women vote. Not because women won’t sit there and take it.

Starting a war on women is a mistake because we all have mothers and sisters, daughters and grand-daughters.

Nobody wins if we tell our daughters and granddaughters that we’re turning back the clock because, you know, women just aren’t able to make important decisions about their bodies, their careers or their lives.

That’s what groups of gray-haired male politicians are for.

Rep. Tami Green (D-Lakewood) is the Floor Leader for the Washington State House of Representatives, works as a nurse, holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and represents the 28th District, which includes DuPont, Fircrest, University Place, parts of Lakewood, Steilacoom, Tillicum, Anderson Island, Ketron Island, McNeil Island, West Tacoma, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

She can be reached at: tami.green@leg.wa.gov



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