The Women’s Caucus met Thursday morning at the Democratic National Convention to discuss the importance of Hillary Clinton winning the presidency over Donald Trump.
Trump’s true stance or intentions on women’s reproductive health rights remains unclear, caucus members said, but is cause for concern. The Rev. Leah D. Daughtry, CEO of the DNC, said Republicans should have no say in women’s health decisions.
“Donald Trump and his Republican Party would uphold policies that make our decisions about our health care something for which we should be punished,” Daughtry said. “I don’t need Donald Trump and the Republican Party punishing me for decisions I make about my own body.”
State funding was cut to Florida clinics that perform abortions, many Planned Parenthood health centers, earlier this year when Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed House Bill 1411. Delegates from Sarasota-Manatee expressed unhappiness with Scott’s decision because low-income Floridians rely heavily on health centers for basic care.
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“I think he has been a big disappointment when he is supposed to be a leader and care about people,” said Christine Jennings, chairwoman of the Sarasota Democratic Party and a Hillary Clinton delegate to the convention.
Democratic Women’s Club of Florida President Maureen McKenna said women will exercise their rights, whether legal or not.
“It’s our basic right to make our decisions. We’re going to make them anyway,” McKenna said. “Whether it’s going to be in a safe environment or an unsafe environment, (women) are going to make the decision. We’re not going to let the government do that.”
“Abortion is safe and legal in America and those two facts have changed women’s lives,” Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards said.
Deanie Bergbreiter, a Bernie Sanders delegate from Sarasota, said she agreed.
“Women should have absolute control over their body,” Bergbreiter said. “This kind of legislation panders to the far right, and it’s a tactic they use to inflame those (far right) people to rally them up to vote.”
McKenna said she believes the Republican approach to the health care system is selfish and not about providing people the health care they deserve.
“(Republicans are) creating a lot of misery for people that just need access to health care, access to equal pay and access to the respect that they deserve,” McKenna said.
Delegates agreed Planned Parenthood health centers are crucial to the basic health needs of low-income women.
“Planned Parenthood provides preventative services for women. It’s not just abortions,” said Michael Fischer, a Clinton delegate from Manatee. “Taking away those services denies low-income women of things like mammograms and pap smears, which can lessen their health.”
“They provide health care primarily for lower-income women, and by reducing funding and access to Planned Parenthood, (Gov. Scott) is restricting access to a right that all our citizens should have,” said Lucy Lapides of Manatee County, a Clinton delegate.
Some believe attacking women’s reproductive rights is a ploy of the right wing.
“For the last two years, Planned Parenthood and women have been the unrelenting target of the right wing and of the Republican leadership in Congress,” Richards said. “The PPAF has been fighting back.”
McKenna said the Republican Party is challenging its own theory with its stance on women’s reproductive health.
“The Republicans talk about less government, no control and deregulation, so why are they trying to regulate a woman’s reproductive rights in her uterus?” McKenna asked. “It’s contradictory to their philosophy and I don’t understand it.”
Cherea Hatcher, @ChereaMHatcher.