I have lived in many parts of Virginia for most of my life and care deeply about the future of our Commonwealth and of our country. I know plenty of independent-minded Virginians, many who would describe themselves as socially liberal and fiscally conservative. I have heard some of those same people say they believe Mitt Romney would govern as a moderate. That is a high stakes bet that Virginians-especially women-cannot afford to make.
Gov. Romney, his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan, and the party they represent have adopted an extreme, ideological agenda that is neither socially liberal nor fiscally conservative. For instance, under their tax plan, the top donor to Mitt Romney and George Allen would personally receive a $2.3 billion tax cut, while middle class families would be asked to pick up the tab and Virginia would see a $4 billion hit in education, transportation, and other federal investments per year.
And in 2010, Republicans ran for Congress and in the states on a platform of job creation and economic recovery. But once they got into office, they used their power to attack women's rights. States passed 92 measures in 2011 that restrict abortion rights-a new record--and they enacted another 40 such measures so far this year. In Congress, House Republicans have taken 55 anti-woman votes in the current session.
We have already experienced a taste of what the Republican agenda looks like here at home with state Republicans trying to impose invasive vaginal ultrasounds on women before they can get an abortion and pushing through unnecessary, burdensome, and costly regulations that will force many abortion clinics to close.
Romney, Ryan, and Allen are now trying to get away with the same bait-and-switch tactics again-running on the economy but governing as zealots.
Studies show politicians tend to keep their campaign promises. Thus the odds are if Romney is elected president, he will act to fulfill his campaign pledges, especially if George Allen and other Republicans take control of the Senate. Romney's pledges include appointing Supreme Court justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade, defunding Planned Parenthood and our nation's family planning program, and supporting radical "personhood" measures that would outlaw abortion in all circumstances and could potentially ban common forms of birth control and in-vitro fertilization.
Perhaps even more importantly, Gov. Romney promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act, President Obama's health reform law, "on day one" of his presidency. This would remove the promise of affordable, quality insurance coverage to the 390,600 women in Virginia who were uninsured in 2010. It also would allow insurance companies to continue their discriminatory practices of routinely excluding coverage for gender-related pre-existing conditions such as breast cancer, a Cesarean section, domestic violence, or sexual assault; charging women higher premiums than men for the exact same benefits, increasing costs for women by $1 billion a year; and denying coverage for maternity care. No plans in the individual market in Virginia currently cover maternity care and only 13 percent let women purchase a separate insurance rider for such coverage.
Obamacare also makes health care more affordable by guaranteeing no-cost coverage for recommended preventive services such as mammograms, Pap smears, well-baby care, contraception, gestational diabetes screening, lactation supports, and much more. As plans renew over the next year, approximately 47 million women will have access to women's preventive services without cost-sharing under the Affordable Care Act, including nearly 1,376,205 women in Virginia. But Romney supported and Ryan voted for legislation that would overturn this provision and allow employers to deny women coverage for contraception or any other health care need to which the boss objects.
In addition, Romney's silence in some cases has been as telling as his pledges. Unlike the previous Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain, who has called out the more extreme rhetoric and positions in his party, Romney failed to condemn Rush Limbaugh's attacks on contraception advocate Sandra Fluke; stood by his endorsement of Richard Mourdock, even after the Senate candidate called pregnancies resulting from rape "a gift from God"; and has refused to take a stand on equal pay for women, despite being asked his position numerous times.
Contrary to the strong evidence in his campaign record that his agenda is extreme, perhaps Romney is lying to us now and will govern as a moderate. But that is not a gamble I'm willing to take.
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