Huge credit to Montana Public Radio’s Edward O’Brien, who managed to find the bunker Senator Steve Daines has been hiding in for the past few days and discovered that instead of evaluating the merits of the health care bill and its impact on Montanans, Daines has focused his attention on his zealotry when it comes to women’s reproductive health.
Daines told O’Brien that if the bill still allows federal funding for Planned Parenthood, he will vote against the proposal:
Edward O’Brien: So if that [Planned Parenthood] funding was restored, you’d vote against the bill?
Steve Daines: “I would.”
Think about that for a moment. In a bill Republicans are unironically calling a health care proposal, it’s not a deal breaker for Senator Daines that the proposal would take health care away from 79,000 Montanans or that 1,100 veterans would lose Medicaid coverage or that rural hospitals would likely close. It is, however, a deal breaker for the Senator if the bill funds effective, efficient and trusted health care for women and men across the state.
Daines has carefully cultivated an image as a mainstream Republican in much of his career, even though his voting record suggests a worldview that regards women as second-class citizens and their health care as something they don’t own a right to. Taking the position that his support for the bill hinges on taking funding away from the largest provider of health care for women shows that Senator Daines has little regard for the women of the state, who need Planned Parenthood for immediate care, not care that takes weeks to schedule.
It’s a repugnant, demagogic position that short circuits discussion about the health bill and demonstrates that Senator Daines lacks the intellectual depth and moral heft to represent the people of our state. While Senator Daines has every right to his particular brand of non-charitable, anti-women theology, he has no right to impose those views on the rest of us. And he certainly has no right to let women die of preventable cancers because he’s opposed to providing them the speediest and best care.
It also reflects the fundamental dishonesty at the center of Daines’s response to the health care bill written in secret by thirteen men in the Senate. Instead of answering directly whether or not he’d support the bill, Daines has maintained the illusion that he will first “listen” to the people of Montana before deciding.
Apparently, that listening doesn’t extend to the women who need access to birth control, cervical screenings, and all the other services Planned Parenthood provides.
What a shock.