Claims of Congress’ inability, once again, to successfully work together flooded the internet after lawmakers failed to pass a bill for Zika prevention funding.
Headlines read “Democrats Block Zika Bill, Blame GOP” and “Zika Funding Fails Again in Congress” in an attempt to paint the Democratic party and partisanship as the culprits.
As a virus that can be contracted through a mere mosquito bite, Zika should appear as an obvious threat to all Americans regardless of party affiliation.
The number of Zika cases continues to grow in Florida and the virus is not only emerging as an increasingly-urgent issue, but the time left for Congress to act is quickly dwindling. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has no funding left to fight the virus, and Congress must pass a budget for next year before the end of this month.
But it was Republicans who took advantage of the time sensitive nature of the bill and included many questionable new provisions to further their own policy.
“They sent it back with all this strange, weird stuff in it. They cut funding for the Veteran’s Administration by half a billion. They tried to disguise the fact that they wanted to eliminate Planned Parenthood,” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.
Although seemingly unrelated at first, Republican’s refusal to fund Planned Parenthood for contraception is directly related to the fight against Zika, and would have adverse effects on the bill’s intentions.
The mosquito-borne virus has been proven to be sexually transmitted after contraction, therefore making the availability of contraceptives, for women and men alike, a crucial aspect in the fight against Zika. Without funding Planned Parenthood, the efforts Congress is making to eliminate the sexually transmitted virus would be substantially less effective.
The Commonwealth Times spoke with Northern Virginia Health Department Mosquito Biologist Andy Lima, who expressed concerns about the need for more Zika-preventive measures.
“Zika is unique in that we’ve never had a mosquito-borne illness that’s caused health effects for the next generation. That makes it really important,” Lima said.
The unborn children of pregnant women infected with Zika have an increased risk of contracting the disease. The inherent nature of the Zika virus is considered one of the biggest issues surrounding the lack of funding for preventative measures.
For a group of individuals who constantly argue that unborn infants are human lives, it is concerning that Republicans refuse to set their political opinions aside for the well-being of these children. It is imperative they recognize there are lives at stake.
Considering the possibility Zika prevention funding may not pass Congress, Lima also emphasized the importance of personal behavioral changes including wearing long clothing, using EPA-approved repellant and avoiding stagnant bodies of water.
It is of paramount importance that we actively work to protect ourselves and to continue to fight for the funding and attention this issue deserves, even if it involves setting your political views aside for a moment.
Teja Yedhara, Contributing Columnist
Eleanor is a junior broadcast journalism and philosophy double major with a concentration in ethics and public policy. She often writes about issues of social justice and human rights, and her dream career would include traveling the world as a documentary filmmaker. You can usually find Eleanor binge watching an entire television series in one night or planning her next backpacking trip.
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Skye is a senior majoring in Communication Arts and minoring in Psychology. She is passionate about illustration and finding creative spaces to have open discussions about mental illness. A fervent animal lover, she would probably be a herpetologist in another life.
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