President Obama’s second inaugural yesterday was a very special event.
I was proud to attend the swearing-in with my daughters, enjoying the relatively mild weather and the spectacle of a crowd size that surprised even organizers (before yesterday, estimates were that 600,000 - 800,000 would attend, and actual estimates were that 1,000,000 observed the event.
The President’s speech was magnificent. It was a clarion call for greater equality and greater opportunity for all. It challenged political leaders of every stripe to live up to the greatest ideals of our founding documents, our founding fathers and our founding principles. Equality for “all” must mean just that-- all.
I was especially pleased to hear the mention of “Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall” as examples of our forebears who fought for the principle that all of us are created equal-- two of the three places are in New York! The mention of Stonewall, and gay rights later in the speech, was a first for an Inaugural address.
The President’s call to achieve gender pay equality drew one of the longest and loudest cheers. In that spirit, I pledge to do everything I can to pass the Equal Rights Amendment at long, long last.
As I noted in last week’s E-news, the new Congress has been gavelled into session. Today, I gave a brief speech on the House floor celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision of the Supreme Court. Last week, I introduced a bill which would lift a ban on gun violence research that has been imposed on the Centers for Disease Control since 1996. Stories on both of these topics follow below.
Carolyn B. Maloney
Member of Congress
ROE V WADE 40TH ANNIVERSARY
Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that established the legality of a woman’s right to privacy when considering an abortion, celebrates its 40th Anniversary today.
It’s disappointing that 40 years after the highest court handed down Roe v. Wade, we are still fighting to preserve that right to choose and ensure that abortion remains safe and legal. As a longtime supporter of women’s reproductive rights, I am continually shocked by Republican efforts to roll them back.
In the last Congress, House Republicans voted ten times to limit access to abortion services or limit fundamental abortion rights. And last year we saw the repeated non-medical approaches Conservatives used to speak about abortion, contraceptive services, and the female anatomy.
Women should not be treated as second-class citiizens, and our voices must be heard by those leading the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. How many times must we continue to ask, ‘where are the women?’ when it comes to politicians seeking to control women’s health care access?
I am pleased that Governor Cuomo is embracing a pro-choice approach calling for New York legislators to pass a Reproductive Health Act to ensure that New York women have the right to make the personal family planning decisions that are best for them and their families.
GUN RESEARCH ACT INTRODUCED
It might surprise you to learn that public health researchers at the Centers for Disease Control have had a gag order imposed upon them by Congress since the mid-1990s which prohibits them from asking a most basic question: “What works to prevent gun violence?”
High-quality, peer-reviewed research-- published in the New England Journal of Medicine-- completed before the research ban revealed that people who kept guns in their homes did not gain protection, contrary to the beliefs of right-to-bear-arms absolutists, but instead risked a 2.7-fold greater chance of homicide and a 4.8-fold greater chance of suicide of one of the household’s members.
I believe that reopening this area of research using the standard public health approaches can reduce the number of gun-related injuries and deaths without infringing on the rights of gun owners-- and that as such, should be able to pass both houses of Congress.
That’s why I and 32 cosponsors have introduced the “Firearm Safety and Public Health Research Act,” H.R. 321. This bill would release federal agencies from these research restrictions. Among the many Executive Orders signed as part of President Obama’s gun control efforts last week was one which directs the CDC to resume its research-- which is a critical step, but one that could be reversed under a different Administration. My bill would protect the President’s directive by lifting the legal ban not just on CDC but on all research agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
My bill treats gun violence as the public health issue that it is. Researchers should have the ability to conduct studies that can provide us with up-to-date statistics, an understanding of the causes underlying firearms violence, and what works to prevent violence-- regardless of the political implications of their results. Researchers and public health groups, including the American Public Health Association (APHA), the Association of American Universities (AAU), and Trust For America’s Health (TFAH) have already begun to endorse the Firearm Safety and Public Health Research Act.
Even the original House sponsor of the research gag order, then-Rep. Jay Dickey of Arkansas, has recanted his opposition to gun-violence research and now supports lifting the ban. He wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post In the aftermath of the Aurora, CO movie theater massacre last summer, using the metaphor of a car accident to illuminate the gun violence debate-- an especially apt comparison since gun-violence deaths roughly equal the number of car-accident deaths each year in the U.S. Mr. Dickey wrote, in part:
“Scientists don’t view traffic injuries as “senseless” or “accidental” but as events susceptible to understanding and prevention. Urban planners, elected officials and highway engineers approach such injuries by asking four questions: What is the problem? What are the causes? Have effective interventions been discovered? Can we install these interventions in our community?”
You can read the entire Op-Ed here: https://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-07-27/opinions/35486709_1_gun-violence-traffic-fatalities-firearm-deaths
Mr. Dickey’s article used It makes sense for us to use what tools we have available now to reduce the deaths that could occur from gun-violence ignorance in the future.
To borrow from President Obama’s Inaugural address yesterday, “We must act.”