California Forum

Are Democratic women being sold out in the name of ‘A Better Deal’?

Planned Parenthood supporters rally for women’s access to reproductive health care on “National Pink Out Day’’ at Los Angeles City Hall. Democratic leaders have suggested expanding the party tent to make it more welcoming to pro-life Democrats.
Planned Parenthood supporters rally for women’s access to reproductive health care on “National Pink Out Day’’ at Los Angeles City Hall. Democratic leaders have suggested expanding the party tent to make it more welcoming to pro-life Democrats. Associated Press

How many #NeverthelessShePersisted, pink pussy hats or Wonder Woman “likes” does the Democratic National Committee need in order to stay the course of progress on behalf of women? When did dumping women’s rights become a spicy strategy for rebuilding a party that got trumped by hatred, fear and lies?

These have been my questions since Democratic leaders this month suggested easing the party’s stance on reproductive rights, a key women’s issue, the better to reach out again to disaffected working-class voters.

If any lesson has been learned from the 2016 election, it is that the Democratic Party needs to reconsider the vision we have for the future. In part, that election was about economic security, and about which candidate would better ensure good jobs, decent wages, adequate health care and lower national debt.

Tell me when we agreed to shed our party’s values to win an election. Tell me when my body became a bargaining chip for a vote.

Since then, it has been said that the party should do more to shift its focus toward economic issues and to lower barriers for red-state voters, even if it means downplaying social issues and throwing the party’s weight behind pro-life candidates in some districts.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure the party’s current leadership understands that this new stance on women’s reproductive rights not only ignores the majority of members’ values, let alone the party’s own platform, but also undermines women’s economic security.

Together, women serve as a collective igniting force that energizes the underrepresented, the ignored and the silenced. We, too, are still fighting for our most fundamental rights. We, too, must constantly defend our bodies, claim our autonomy and protest our exclusion.

Women are more likely to live in poverty, to be sexually assaulted, to be underrepresented in elective office and to suffer economically from occupational glass ceilings, all while paying more for services and products and earning less than our male counterparts. Reproductive choice empowers our economic security and prosperity.

Having control over my own body meant I could graduate from college, get a master’s degree, become a homeowner, help run the family business and run for office on the timeline that I chose, just like my male colleagues. If men got pregnant we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.

Tell me when we agreed to shed our party’s values to win an election. Tell me when my body became a bargaining chip for a vote. Mansplain to me how candidate “diversification” means disposing of choice, autonomy and equality for the majority of the American population – that is, women.

I refuse to normalize misogyny and inequality to appeal to the lowest common denominator to gain a few seats we can paint blue. Pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion. It means I respect that your choice is none of my business. And I’ll fight to protect your right to choose what’s best for you.

As an elected official, it’s my duty to ensure everyone can make choices for themselves. We can be religious individuals, but imposing our religious beliefs on others is not American and sure as hell isn’t Democratic.

Women are the backbone of the Democratic Party. We are the activists, the fighters and the energy. Women demonstrated to the world that Americans would not just roll over and accept rule from a party that lost the popular vote. We are the resistance.

I guarantee we’re not rolling back our right to choice within our own party. I’ll be the first one calling BS to every attempt to sell out women today for “A Better Deal”. Because if they’ll sell out women, who’s next? Immigrants? Jews? LGBTs?

That’s no choice for any American.

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, is the chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus and represents the 58th Assembly District. She can be reached at Assemblymember.Garcia@assembly.ca.gov.

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