GUEST POST: Pam Byrnes on the importance of electing more women in 2014 – “Two words: Rape Insurance”

A woman’s place is in the House. And the Senate. And …

One of the most closely watched races of 2014 is the one for Michigan’s 7th Congressional District which pits Republican incumbent Tim Walberg against former state House Speaker Pam Byrnes.

The contrast could hardly be more stark.

On nearly every issue you wish to name, Tim Walberg is on the wrong side of it. However, there are few issues on which he is more out of step with is constituents than on women’s issues. Whether it’s voting for bills to restrict a woman’s access to a safe and legal abortion or voting against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, there was Tim Walberg, voting against women. He couldn’t even bring himself to vote for the Violence Against Women Act because it didn’t include a “conscience clause” that would allow religious organizations to refuse treatment to members of the LGBT community.

He’s that extreme.

Pam Byrnes wrote the following guest post to emphasize the need to elect more women into office. She uses the example of the Right to Life “Rape Insurance” law in Michigan and it’s the perfect choice to explain just how far Republicans men are willing to go to oppress women when they have all the power. What they fail to realize is that it’s an issue on which they are supremely vulnerable. Ever since they passed the law last week, I’ve been inundated with questions about when a repeal petition drive was going to begin. Go to the Facebook pages of groups like Planned Parenthood and women (and men) are already lined up, ready for the fight. The Michigan chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) posted this to their Facebook page late last week:

Are you ready to work on a referendum to repeal the initiated law banning abortion coverage in health insurance? We will decide next week and need your feedback. It will cost a lot of money and need many volunteers to collect 250,000 signatures before mid-March. If we are successful, it would put a hold on the law and place it on the November 2014 ballot. That issue campaign will also be expensive as RTL will pull in national money to defend their initiated law. The polling indicates strong opposition to the law in many parts of the state. What do you think?

Plans are underway for the petition drive and you can be sure we’ll cover it top to bottom here in Michigan.

But we shouldn’t have to be in defensive mode. We shouldn’t have to be fighting the same fights our mothers fought and won decades ago. We should be working to make Michigan an inclusive state that works for everyone, not a place that state Rep. Rashida Tlaib describes like this:

Ironically, Republicans seem to think oppressing women is platform they can win on. According to WILX, a Republican strategist believes this is a “winning issue” for Republicans.

As if.

One way to ensure that we don’t have to continue to fight the same political battles our parents fought and won is to elect more women into every elected position on the ballot. Pam Byrnes is supported by EMILY’s List and was recently bumped up to “Fully Recommended” status. It’s for a good reason: she’ll be there to protect the gains women have made and to fight for moving forward, everyone moving forward.

Here is her message.


If there is any doubt we need more women in elected office, I have two words for you – Rape Insurance.

That’s the latest and greatest from our very own extremist, male-dominated legislature in Michigan. As you are probably aware, the Michigan legislature just passed a bill requiring women to purchase a separate insurance rider if they seek an abortion, with no exceptions for rape or incest or cases where the mother’s life is in danger.

In the hours before votes were cast, women legislators took to the floor to tell their personal stories. These legislators weren’t just speaking for themselves, they were speaking for women across the state, but their pleas fell on deaf ears. Michigan women need a majority voice in the Legislature and they need a voice in Congress. The war on women won’t stop until we get these extremists out of office.

Earlier this month, EMILY’s List moved my candidacy up to the “Fully Recommended.” This endorsement comes with the full the support of the organization and its 3 million members and that’s significant.

My opponent Tim Walberg falls right in line with these extremist guys. He opposes abortion in cases of rape and incest, he supports defunding Planned Parenthood, and he voted for Todd Akin’s bill to redefine rape. And he’s not alone. There are dozens more Congressmen like him, who will continue to endanger women’s lives and take away their rights and freedom.

But, with the help of group like EMILY’s List, we are going to fight back. Change happens at the ballot box. If we want to see a Congress and a State Legislature who respect women, we have to elect new people.

So, if you are frustrated with what happened in Lansing last week, don’t just be mad. Take a cue from the EMILY’s List playbook and help elect more pro-Choice, Democratic women.

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