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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Columns

‘War on Women’ is not a myth


Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus was apparently the last person to find out about what is being called the Republican Party’s “War on Women.”

Last week, Priebus insisted the idea that Republican legislators have been pressing legislation directed towards women was media-created “fiction.”

In an interview with Bloomberg TV, he claimed that “If the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars and every mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we’d have problems with caterpillars.”

He may be underestimating the American attention span.

After all, the media would have far less to report about if GOP legislators would stop trying to out-do each other with new, more disturbing bills every other day. Even in Ohio — a swing state — more anti-reproductive rights bills have been introduced in this current General Assembly than in the past three combined.

The same day as Priebus’ interview, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed Senate Bill 202, repealing the state’s equal pay law. The bill will make it more difficult for women to take legal action against discriminatory employers.

Walker also signed three more bills that day: One prohibits Wisconsin insurance companies from providing abortion coverage, another increases criminal penalties for physicians providing abortion services and one makes sure as many young Wisconsin women as possible end up needing those services.

This last bill not only puts women at a disadvantage, but girls as well as it replaces Wisconsin’s comprehensive sex education program with an abstinence-based curriculum.

Contraception coverage — a once seemingly benign issue — has become a national debate this year and has produced shocking rhetoric from influential Republicans.

Santorum donor Foster Friess made the nation cringe by joking, “Back in (his) days, they used Bayer Aspirin for contraception. The gals put it between their knees, and it wasn’t that costly.”

No women were allowed to speak at Darryl Issa’s panel on this issue. The the now famous Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke had to speak at a separate Democratic hearing.

For wanting to say her piece, Fluke was called by Rush Limbaugh a “slut” and “a prostitute.” Even more disturbing was that he requested “videos of all this sex posted online so we can see what we are getting for our money.”

Limbaugh may only be a shock jock, but he is not alone within the Republican Party. His misogyny is reflected in the current trends in legislation across the country.

Reproductive rights are the favorite target of this sort of legislation. In Mississippi and North Dakota, new waiting periods threaten to close the only safe and legal abortion provider.

Arizona has been one of the worst offenders. Last month, they attempted to pass a bill that would allow doctors to directly lie to patients to prevent the patient from terminating a pregnancy.

The state is now considering a bill that would ban abortion after twenty weeks — with a time period that would start counting up to two weeks before the woman was actually pregnant.

The original draft of a similar bill in Georgia would have required women to carry a non-viable fetus to term — though that section was mercifully amended.

An Idaho bill would require women to go to one of the notoriously deceitful crisis pregnancy centers before seeing an actual physician. This year to date, states have proposed 374 anti-abortion bills, 200 more than last year.

Yet Priebus claims this is all merely conjured in the imaginations of activists or contrived by the media.

Such condescending disregard for women and our autonomy is disappointing to say the least. Women know attacks on their reproductive rights and personal autonomy when they see them.

Republicans should keep in mind that we also vote and make up half of the nation’s population. Even GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney is polling quite badly with women. He can expect this trend to continue as long as many women see the RNC’s platform as a direct threat to their personal privacy and freedom.

And in the end, these are not specifically women’s issues. Whether it’s sex education, contraception or abortion, the right to start your family when you’re ready is important to both sexes just as equal pay is of concern to any working couple.

The Obama campaign is actively and successfully courting the voters that the Republican Party is pushing away. If the RNC wants the votes it needs to win the upcoming election, it needs to stop pretending that issues like equal pay and reproductive rights are not important to women or that these attacks are not happening. We weren’t born yesterday.

Emily Brooks is an economics senior and may be reached at [email protected]

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