Bush Bashes Women Again
Published on Wednesday, December 26, 2001 in the Madison Capital Times
Bush Bashes Women Again
It's good to know that even in the midst of waging war on terrorism, George Bush is able to consider the nation's women.

Unfortunately he's considering shrinking - if not eliminating - some of the federal agencies that are charged with protecting women's interests, according to a recent story in the New York Times.

Those under fire include the 10 regional offices of the Labor Department's Women's Bureau. The bureau was created in the 1920s after women obtained the right to vote.

Meanwhile, the panels that advise the military and the Department of Veterans Affairs on women's issues - like mammograms and sexual trauma - have been stalled because the White House has not named new members. Nor has the administration named new members to the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services.

In addition, there is some talk in Washington about consolidating offices on women's health in agencies like the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Five advocacy groups have protested to Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, saying, "The elimination of the Women's Bureau regional offices, like the elimination of the department's equal pay initiative, would end programs that are vital ... to working women today."

None of this should come as a surprise, however, to women's advocacy groups or American women in general. After all, this is the president who reinstated the "global gag rule" - which cut off U.S. international aid money from going to any family planning organization that provides abortions or even considers the topic - on his very first day in office. And it's the same president who decided not to continue the White House Office on Women's Initiatives and Outreach, created by Clinton in 1995.

And it's the same president whose wife recently went on radio to declare that "the fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women."

Judging by Bush's most recent actions, we have to wonder what women Bush is fighting for. It's certainly not American women, and judging by the administration's low-key efforts to involve women in any post-Taliban government, it's not Afghan women, either.

Copyright 2001 The Capital Times