It comes down to this, again.

Negotiations on the federal budget failed yet again last night, with reports coming out of Washington that the two parties are more or less in agreement on the numbers, but that they cannot agree on several “social” issues: Republicans are threatening to shut down the government unless Democrats agree to cut funding for Planned Parenthood. They’re also demanding the de-funding of the UN Population Fund and the Environmental Protection Agency, because if you’re slutty enough to accidentally get pregnant, your unplanned children don’t deserve to breathe clean air.

Here’s what the Republicans are demanding, in convenient and infuriating bullet point form, thanks to the New York Times:

• No federal financing for Planned Parenthood because it performs abortions. Instead, state administration of federal family planning funds, which means that Republican governors and legislatures will not spend them.
• No local financing for abortion services in the District of Columbia.
• No foreign aid to countries that might use the money for abortion or family planning. And no aid to the United Nations Population Fund, which supports family-planning services.

So it comes down to this, again. The government shutdown comes down to whether or not politicians care about women’s health.

The Republicans, we already know, do not care. Not only do they not care, they’re actively working to make it more difficult for American women to receive life-saving healthcare.

And we should not be surprised for a moment. The GOP’s insistence that they care most about and are focused on jobs has been repeatedly contradicted by their attempts to block access to reproductive healthcare in the states. The GOP, despite its insistence that the government that governs least governs best, has spent the last few months devising as many avenues as possible for the government to involve itself in every pregnancy in the country. As the Times editorial board observes today, this is not about spending, and it’s not about making government smaller or more efficient.

So it’s down to the Democrats. Do the Democrats care enough about women’s health to stand firm? Or are our rights going to be traded away for a political victory, like they were when the healthcare reform act passed?

Some Democrats are pissed off. Patty Murray, the Senator from Washington, is one of them. “I am really stunned, and I am angry as a woman … that there are those in the Republican Party in the House who are willing to shut down the government, take people’s paychecks away from them, because they want to deny women access to health care in this country.”

It comes down to this. Will the Democrats fold, leaving millions of American women without access to cancer screenings, gynecological healthcare, contraception, STI testing and abortion? Do the Democrats have our backs, or will we be thrown under the bus, yet again?

A citizen’s health is not a bargaining chip. A citizen’s health is not a political football. Unless, apparently, that citizen happens to be a woman, in which case, bargain and play ball. We’re only 51% of the population. We’re only responsible for gestating the next generation of Americans, so we don’t really need to be healthy. We’re only women, right, so who the fuck cares?

No, really, I wasn’t asking that rhetorically. Who the fuck cares? I sure as hell hope the Democrats do.

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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