A friend of mine said on Facebook, after last night’s final presidential debate, “Someone posted last night that the Democrats are just making up lies and that she knows of not one single Republican candidate for any office that wants to take any women’s rights away. Um.” I find this perspective stunning. Yet it’s not the first time I have come across it. You’d really have to be completely deaf to all things political, with your head buried deep in the sand, to not have heard about the many, many things Republicans are doing to hurt women these days.
First of all, since January 2010, there have been more than 400 bills introduced in the U.S. Congress and states attacking women’s reproductive rights. This is a fact. There were 26 bills in Mississippi’s legislative session just this year that would limit women’s rights. When I told a friend of a friend this on Facebook, a person who scoffed at the idea of a Republican War on Women, she simply disbelieved it. As if saying, “I don’t think that’s true,” can make it so. If only.
Republicans want to shut down Planned Parenthood (abortion services are a mere three percent of what Planned Parenthood does for American women, need I remind you). Republicans want to allow employers to deny women insurance coverage for their doctor-prescribed birth control, even though an addendum to leave religious employers out of that requirement was added. Misinformed Republicans that I know still claim there is some sort of war on religion over this issue, which is astoundingly incorrect.
Outside of unnecessary, forced vaginal ultrasounds, TRAP laws to shut down abortion providers under the guise of “protecting” women, and Personhood bills, there are even more ways that Republicans have waged a War on Women in the last year. The Violence Against Women Act had bipartisan support every legislative session since it began in 1994. Until this past year, when new sections which sought to protect Native American women, lesbians, and immigrants (think imported brides) made Republicans deem the bill unsupportable. Apparently, Republican legislators think those kinds of women are undeserving of protection. #WWJD? Is that even a moral argument?
The Paycheck Fairness Act was blocked by Senate Republicans. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the first law President Obama signed once in office, which makes it easier for women to sue their employers if they are paid less than men for doing the same job, was *and still is* uniformly denounced by Republicans. Even today, some Republicans like Marco Rubio are claiming it’s simply a boon for trial lawyers. Well, not if it actually does what the law intends to do, which is discourage pay inequality in the first place! It seems pretty simple to me. When Mitt Romney was asked where he stood on the Lilly Ledbetter Act, he said he would have to get back to the interviewer on that question. Talk about spineless. He needed to consult his handlers on the correct answer before stating an opinion. And to this day, he still has not actually stated an opinion on the law.
Rich Beeson, political director of Mitt Romney’s campaign, dismisses ALL of these issues altogether, and says they are “small things” that are not important to voters. Another of Romney’s campaign spokesmen has the gall to call these issues “shiny objects to distract people’s attention.” Paul Ryan is even worse, mocking our concerns by saying, “Now it’s a war on women; tomorrow it’s going to be a war on left-handed Irishmen or something like that.”
I direct these men to last week’s Gallup poll of women voters in swing states:
[quote]‘Women in the 12 key swing states have starkly different responses from men when asked in an open-ended format to name the most important issues for their gender in the 2012 election. A plurality of female registered voters offered abortion (39 percent) as the most important issue for women, followed by jobs, healthcare, the economy, and equal rights.’[/quote]
If women get out and VOTE, we can make sure the party that cares about us and our rights and protection is in power. If we don’t, then the party who thinks we are distracted by shiny things will win. And we lose as a gender.