Now, I’m not suggesting that the Republican Party is purposely enabling the spread of the Zika virus; however, by playing politics and making wrong-headed decisions, they don’t seem to be contributing to its timely eradication. Let’s take a look.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito, which spreads the Zika, Guillain-Barré syndrome, and other viruses, has been on our Nation’s radar screen since last year. Worldwide, however, it has been around for 70 years. Zika is especially horrific due to the microcephaly it can cause in newborns babies. At the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President Barack Obama requested that Congress appropriate $1.9 billion, last February, to combat the spread of the Zika Virus.
The Republican Party, which controls both Houses of Congress, passed legislation authorizing $1.1 billion in the Senate for Zika, and just $633 million in the House. Among the various “poison pills”, which the GOP slipped-in, were one that restricted the work of Planned Parenthood in offering contraception services to young women, and another to remove $543 million from the Affordable (Health) Care Act. Congress broke for summer recess before any legislation was finalized.
Let’s look at the risk of the Zika virus to young women of child-bearing age. The spread of Zika was especially widespread in Latin America, earlier this year, since abortion and contraceptives are not widely-available there, other than to the wealthy. So their only option was: Don’t get pregnant! Surely, we all know what happens with such sage advice. But, unfortunately, that’s what the Republican Party seems to be saying to poor young American women.
Planned Parenthood is arguably the largest provider of comprehensive health care for women in America, especially among the poor, who might be dependent upon Medicaid for health care. So, besides dallying on authorizing the funds requested by the health care professionals, Republicans in Congress have undercut that amount by two-thirds, and they are trying to restrict the access to contraceptive services.
President Obama has promised to Veto this legislation, if passed with those amendments. But, how counter-productive those pills are to the basic legislation? Abortion services, which are a major GOP target, only account for approximately three percent of Planned Parenthood’s business, and it is not government-funded.
Besides playing politics with women’s health care in Washington, Republicans, which also control a majority of the state houses, have also gotten into the act at that level. Many of those same states have refused the Extended Medicaid which, by raising the income qualification, would provide government-subsidized health care to many more poor families.
But, I’m not through yet! Again, in many of these same states, public schools can only teach Abstinence in sex education classes—and not Contraception. Is this all beginning to sink-in yet?
Lastly, the World Health Organization believes that global warming adds to the risks of mosquito-borne diseases, since warmer climates may broaden the contagion’s range, and advance the mosquito’s life cycle. The Aedes aegypti’s life span is just ten-to-twelve days, and it is only capable of carrying Zika toward the end of its life. But if WHO is right, and global warming accelerates Aedes’ life cycle, the mosquito’s ability to spread Zika, or other viruses begins earlier, and its impact could be greatly enhanced!
When I consider all the possible politically-motivated and incoherently stupid things that the Republican Party is doing, at all levels, I can only question: Who’s side are they on? Surely, when Fall arrives, we’ll have a break from the Zika virus; but, will we ever get a similar break from dumb political thinking?