WASHINGTON—A national women’s group is urging females in a Republican-controlled Congress to work together to support women’s rights.
The National Partnership for Women and Families is a consumer advocacy group that fights for policies advancing women rights. The organization promotes legislation such as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Family and Medical Leave Act and the Affordable Care Act into law.
The partnership wants to bring women’s health policy up to date by expanding reproductive services, including the right to abortion.
But in a Congress where Republicans hold majorities in both the House and Senate, advancing abortion rights legislation will be a tough sell. The divisive issue crosses party lines, but opposition to abortion – often grounded in religious convictions – runs stronger in the Republican Party.
“We don’t just dream big, we work hard,” Debra Ness, the president of National Partnership for Women and Families, said at a briefing. “[We] are not going to wait for a better Congress.”
The organization wants to end what it calls “bad medicine,” where it says politicians tell health care providers how to practice medicine.
In the 114th congress, which convened in January, about a dozen abortion restrictions and anti-abortion bills have been introduced, according to Sarah Lipton-Lubet, director of reproductive health programs for National Partnership for Women and Families.
“These bills insert politicians in the exam room,” said Lipton-Lubet.
Looking at restrictions and bills introduced on Capitol Hill in the past month, a majority of the pro-abortion rights bills were authored by Democratic women. While most of the anti-abortion bills were introduced by Republican men. A female Republican, Diane Black R- Tenn., offered an amendment to one anti-abortion bill.
The National Partnership for Women and Families hopes Republican women are open to persuasion on the abortion rights issue. But many of them are co-sponsors of legislation, such as the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act.
Therefore female Democrats may be left hanging in the aisle by female Republicans in advancing such policies. Reps. Martha Roby R-Ala., Ann Wagner R-Mo.., Candice Miller R-Mich. and Virginia Foxx R-N.C., are cosponsoring bills restricting abortion services.