The War on Women Marches On
Today is the one-year anniversary of former Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-MO) infamous “legitimate rape” comments in which he remarked about the magical powers of women’s bodies to “shut that whole thing down” if they were victims of what former GOP presidential contender Ron Paul called an “honest rape.” Two months later, another GOP Senate candidate, Indiana’s Richard Mourdock, caused his own national firestorm when he said that pregnancies resulting from rape were a “gift from God.”
These sorts of inflammatory comments paired with the GOP’s policy positions in opposition to affordable access to birth control, abortion rights, equal pay legislation, and other family-friendly economic items like earned sick time represent an ongoing effort attacking women and their families.
Here are just a few things that have happened in the year since Akin made his noxious comments:
- Threatening to shut down the government in order to deny millions of women and their families health care: As we’ve discussed previously in this space, Republicans are now threatening to shut down the government in order to defund Obamacare, which would deny the security of quality, affordable health care to millions of women and their families. Republicans, of course, have already voted more than 40 times to repeal Obamacare, including its no-cost birth control benefit and provisions that will ban insurance companies from being able to deny coverage because they consider breast cancer, having been a victim of domestic violence, or merely being a woman a preexisting condition.
One conservative group, Heritage Action, launched a nationwide government shut tour today and said it will spend more than half a million dollars on ads to pressure lawmakers into shutting down the government unless Obamacare is defunded.
- Congressman revives Akin-like rape talk, House GOP passes unconstitutional abortion ban: During the June markup of an unconstitutional ban on abortion after 20 weeks, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) made comments echoing Todd Akin’s infamous “legitimate rape” remarks. Franks, who defended Akin at the time he made those remarks, explained that the incidence of pregnancy from rape is “very low.” There are approximately 30,000 pregnancies resulting from rape every year in the United States.
The full House of Representatives passed Franks’ bill the following week.
- Renewed assault on abortion rights in states across the country: Republican-controlled state legislatures across the country continued the unfortunate recent trend of passing increasingly draconian and unconstitutional restrictions on abortion rights. As ThinkProgress noted today, this has already been one of the worst years for reproductive rights in memory and “abortion clinics are closing at a record pace.”
Not only are Republicans enacting increasingly restrictive laws, they are going to increasingly desperate lengths to do so. Texas called two special sessions to pass its crackdown, while North Carolina legislators resorted to attaching a measure that will close most of the state’s abortion clinics to an unrelated motorcycle safety bill.
- “Abortion Barbie” and “Retard Barbie”: Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis (D) become well-known in Texas in 2011 for filibustering a bill that contained billions in cuts to public education and became a nationwide sensation earlier this summer when she filibustered a draconian crackdown on abortion rights in the Lone Star State. Since then, Fox News contributor Erick Erickson referred to the Harvard Law School graduate as “abortion Barbie” and, over the weekend, Texas Attorney General (and gubernatorial candidate) Greg Abbott (R) thanked a supporter on Twitter after he referred to Davis as “Retard Barbie.”
- Senators suggest offensive explanations for military sexual assault crisis: Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) blamed the growing problem of military sexual assault on “the hormone level created by nature.” His colleague, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), instead suggested that perhaps pornography is to blame.
- GOP governor attacks working mothers: Gov. Phil Bryant (R-MS) was asked to explain why the American education system “so mediocre.” Bryant responded that working mothers were to blame. This came just days after several Fox News commentatorslost their minds over the record number of women who are the primary breadwinners in their household.
We could go on, but you get the picture.
BOTTOM LINE: If Republicans care about winning over more women, they need to put an end to offensive comments about women and how their bodies work and, more importantly, stop supporting policies that undermine and attack the health and economic security of women and their families each and every day.