Here’s the story in a nutshell. On December 1, a bill passed the Senate with zero objections. Bipartisan support for a no-brainer bill that “directs the president to make preventing child marriage a priority, especially in countries where more than 40 percent of girls under the age of 18 are married. The ways to do that, according to the bill: support educating communities on the dangers and health effects of child marriage, keep young girls in school, support female mentoring programs and make sure girls have access to health care services.” Just before the vote in the House, Republican leadership sent out a “whip alert” telling House Republicans to vote no because the health care services provision might lead to funding NGOs that provide abortion services. So, the bill was killed. Even some congressmen who sponsored the bill voted no.
It truly makes my head want to explode. Are GOP lawmakers in a contest to see which house of Congress has the biggest douchebags? Hmm, last week Republican Senators filibustered a bill that would provide compensation for first responders to 9/11. Wow, that’s amazingly douchebaggy, how can we beat that? I know! Let’s kill a bill that promotes basic human rights and opposes legalized child rape! You just can’t beat that level of douchbaggery!
How is it that every Senate Republican supported the bill? Have pro-life Republican lawmakers abandoned their base constituency? NO! Want to know the reason why? This bill has absolutely nothing to do with abortion and does not even mention abortion, contraception, or family planning in any way whatsoever.
Consider the following. A commenter said it so succinctly, I cannot improve upon it, so I’ll just quote here:
The part that gets me is this: "Even some congressmen who sponsored the bill voted no." They voted no. Which means that legislation they found worthy enough to put their name on didn't get their vote because a party member with higher rank told them to vote no. If this isn't partisan politics at its worst, then what is? Forget the horrendous subject matter of the bill (tough to do, I know, when they basically voted to keep little girls up front in the meat market), consider this: if we are electing individuals whose votes are determined not by our wishes but by the direction of their party leaders, then whose side are our representatives on?
Also consider this, the United States is a member of the United Nations, which has taken the position that child marriage is a violation of human rights. As a member nation of the United Nations, we are obligated to support human rights.
Yes, even human rights of children.
Yes, even human rights of girl children.
Yes, even human rights of girl children in developing countries.
The United Nations Report on Child Marriage states that child marriage:
represents perhaps the most prevalent form of sexual abuse and exploitation of girls. The harmful consequences include separation from family and friends, lack of freedom to interact with peers and participate in community activities, and decreased opportunities for education. Child marriage can also result in bonded labor or enslavement, commercial sexual exploitation and violence against the victims. Because they cannot abstain from sex or insist on condom use, child brides are often exposed to such serious health risks as premature pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and, increasingly, HIV/AIDS.
And just in case you are wondering what’s the harm in adolescent pregnancy, adolescent girls (defined as ages 10-19) are two to five times more likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth as women in their twenties (source). In other words, it’s a major health risk that perhaps might be mitigated somewhat by proper prenatal healthcare that could have been funded by the bill House Republicans killed for no valid reason.
You can see the list of Representatives that voted against the bill at this link. If your Representative voted No, I encourage you to write a letter or email, or make a phone call to let him/her know how disgusted you are.