Reproductive Rights

Cuccinelli: McAuliffe is Waging 'The Real War on Women'…Because He Hasn't Commented on Mayor Three Time Zones Away

Last week, the Republican National Committee and the four national GOP campaign committees sent out a memo claiming that there is in fact a Democratic “war on women” being waged on two fronts: New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner’s sexting and San Diego mayor Bob Filner’s sexual harassment.

Claiming that “most Democrats said nothing” about the San Diego mayor’s serial sexual harassment and the former congressman’s serial sexting of strangers, the memo charges, “With their silence, they are sanctioning the actions of Bob Filner and Anthony Weiner and numerous others who have assaulted, harassed, and preyed on women.”

Now, Virginia attorney general and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli has picked up on the theme, sending out a fund raising email with a graphic connecting Cuccinelli’s Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe and President Obama with Weiner and Filner.

“By not condemning Weiner and Filner’s unacceptable behavior towards women, leaders like Obama and McAuliffe are signaling to our young people that it’s okay for powerful American leaders to harass, humiliate and assault women,” the email reads.

As many commentators have noted, the GOP’s new attempt to turn the tables on the War on Women isn’t exactly convincing, especially coming from the party of trans-vaginal ultrasounds and “legitimate rape.”

But the argument is almost comical coming from Cuccinelli, who has one of the most extreme records in the country when it comes to women’s health and women’s rights. This is a candidate who:

Yet, Terry McAuliffe is waging “the real war on women” because of the actions of a man he’s never met who lives on the opposite side of the country.

Chipping Away at Choice: PFAW Report Examines Five Assaults on Women’s Health in the States

WASHINGTON – North Carolina’s governor signs a law forcing most of the state’s abortion providers to close. Ohio threatens to defund rape crisis centers that counsel women about abortion. Wisconsin tries to make it illegal for many abortion providers to provide care. A new report from People For the American Way, "Chipping Away at Choice,"  details how conservative state legislatures throughout the country are quietly chipping away at women's ability to make informed decisions about their health care, including mandating that doctors provide false or misleading information; requiring that women undergo costly and unnecessary medical procedures and waiting periods; and forcing clinics to shut their doors.

"While national attention often focuses on extreme efforts to ban all abortion and challenge Roe v. Wade in the courts, anti-choice activists are staging a dangerous parallel effort to chip away at women's reproductive rights," said Dawn Huckelbridge, policy director of YEO Action, a program of People For the American Way that represents the interests of young, progressive elected officials. "Just this week, North Carolina’s governor signed a law meant to close most of the abortion clinics in the state, making it harder for women to exercise their constitutional right to choose. Reproductive choice without access to reproductive care is an empty promise."

The PFAW report examines five growing threats to women's health care access:

  • Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws, like the one signed into law in North Carolina this week, which place unnecessary regulations on abortion providers with the goal of shutting them down.
  • Mandatory waiting periods, which place an unnecessary burden on low-income women and those who live in one of the 87 percent of U.S. counties without an abortion clinic.
  • Crisis pregnancy centers, which have been found to provide women with false or misleading information, and are often not staffed by medical professionals.
  • "Race- and sex-selective" abortion bans, cynical efforts to create new obstacles to women's choice, which risk placing additional burdens on women of color.
  •  Interference with the doctor-patient relationship, including forcing doctors to read scripts written by politicians, requiring that doctors perform medically unnecessary procedures such as early-term ultrasounds, and placing unnecessary restrictions on medical abortions.

"These attacks on women's health often receive little national attention," added Huckelbridge. "But women are noticing. As a NARAL poll in Virginia found this week, attacks on women’s health motivate women to go to the polls. And throughout the country, progressive state elected officials are fighting to restore the rights of women to access safe, affordable reproductive care, guided by doctors rather than politicians.”

The full report, Chipping Away at Choice: Five Growing Threats to Women's Healthcare Access and Autonomy  is available at

Survey Finds Choice Is Make-or-Break Issue for Virginia Women Voters

Reproductive choice is a central issue for women who otherwise might not vote in the Virginia gubernatorial election, a new NARAL survey finds.  This is not good news for Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli, who once described himself as “the most aggressive pro-life leader in the Virginia Senate.”

In a survey of 600 largely Democratic “drop-off” women in the state – those who have voted in presidential years but not in other years – choice was a make-or-break issue among pro-choice women, with 57% saying they “would never vote for anyone running for president who opposes a woman's right to have a legal abortion, no matter how much I agree with them on other issues.” It was such an important issue, in fact, that after hearing choice-based messaging about the race between Terry McAuliffe and Ken Cuccinelli, pro-choice drop-off women became significantly more interested in turning out to cast a vote in the election.

Politico reports:

“They found that statements about Cuccinelli’s position on abortion had a bigger effect among this group than any other issue in generating both the level of support and intensity for Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe. ‘Protecting a woman’s right to choose’ trumped health care, guns, transportation, spending and college affordability.”

And Cuccinelli’s track record on abortion rights is indeed bleak.  He pressured the Virginia Board of Health to pass a set of unnecessarily burdensome building regulations that threaten to close the majority of the state’s abortion clinics.  He supports the passage of radical “personhood” legislation giving fertilized eggs rights.  He attempted to defund Planned Parenthood in Virginia.  He has stated that his “ultimate goal” is to “make abortion disappear in America.”

Although Cuccinelli has tried to convince voters this year that his focus as governor would not be on social issues, he cannot hide his regressive, anti-choice beliefs from Virginia women who, according to the new data, will take their concern for protecting reproductive choice to the ballot box.


Texas State Senator Compares Himself to Jesus, Condemns 'Anarchy' of Pro-Choice 'Mob'

Texas Republican state senator Dan Patrick is not impressed by Wendy Davis. Despite Davis’ all day filibuster of an anti-choice bill, Patrick thinks he is the one that deserves the praise. Patrick, the sponsor of the bill, told Mike Huckabee today that he urged his fellow Republicans to break Senate tradition and stop the filibuster.

He compared his action to Jesus’ criticism of the Pharisees for placing too much importance on “laws and rules.” Patrick went on to encourage other senators to similarly cast off the law, asking, “Are we going to become the modern day Pharisees as Republicans of the Senate?”

Patrick also criticized the crowd that turned out to support Davis, calling it an “organized mob” carrying out an attack on the government. He blamed their behavior on the fact that they were Democrats, because “a tea party would never do this.”

Wendy Davis and the People’s Filibuster in Texas

Guest post from Robin Lane, alumni board member of affiliate People For the American Way Foundation’s Young People For program.

                Tuesday afternoon in Austin, I arrived at the Capitol and was swallowed in a sea of orange, ready to support Senator Wendy Davis and her filibuster of Senate Bill 5. Sen. Davis began by reading the testimonies of women who would be affected by SB5, limiting abortion rights in Texas, getting so emotional reading one woman’s story that she struggled to continue speaking through her tears. Senators Watson, Van de Putte, and West helped her buy time. We cheered every time we heard someone say, “Parliamentary inquiry, Mr. President.” The filibuster continued late into the evening.

                At 11:30, Sen. Watson had the floor. Sen. West requested that the motion to close the previous question be put into writing, “in as large a font as possible.” I couldn’t breathe. And then, Sen. Van de Putte made the comment that erupted the entire Capitol: “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?”

                Sen. Duncan announced over the noise, “We will have to suspend the vote until the gallery is in order.” The clock ran out. At midnight, the auditorium erupted in cheers. But when all of the Senators remained in front of the podium, the cheers faded. Several news outlets reported that SB5 passed. Conflicting outcomes were coming in droves.

                A large crowd from the auditorium raced upstairs into the rotunda and the sight took my breath away – every inch was packed with people chanting. At around 2:15 AM, we heard a text message sent from Sen. Davis to an ally in the rotunda: Senate Bill 5 was officially dead. There was a request to sing, “The Eyes of Texas,” and the Capitol sang together. Someone raised a Texas flag on the rotunda floor. People were crying.

                I have never been so proud to call myself a Texan.

                Although I didn’t grow up in the Lone Star state, my mother did – and so did my grandmother, and my great-grandfather, and my great-great-grandfather. Texas is in my blood. I came to Texas after leaving the University of Pittsburgh, where I had been organizing for reproductive justice since 2007. I came because I saw so clearly how my issue intersected with the struggles of communities of color, low-income communities, immigrant communities, education justice, LGBTQ rights, environmental justice, and food justice – and I saw Texas as ground-zero for many of these battles. We won the battle, for now, on SB5 – but with Section 4 of the Voting Rights struck down, Texas immediately began advancing a discriminatory redistricting plan. A woman in San Antonio is in deportation proceedings after she took her sick child to the hospital. Senators Cornyn and Cruz continue to fight us on truly inclusive immigration reform. And on Wednesday, Gov. Rick Perry called another special session of the Texas legislature, set for July 1, to act on the sweeping anti-choice proposals.  Yes, we won this battle – but the war continues.

                Still, the victory at the Capitol this week inspired me to keep up the difficult work of organizing in the state of Texas – from now until the next election, and beyond.


After Heroic All-Day Filibuster Foils Anti-Choice Bill, TX Gov. Rick Perry Calls ANOTHER Special Session to Continue Attack on Women

It’s been a chaotic week for the Texas legislature, but the drama isn’t over. Following state Senator Wendy Davis’ epic filibuster of a bill that would limit Texas women’s access to abortion, Governor Rick Perry has called yet another special session to push the legislation through.

The bill would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy – with no exceptions – and would place burdensome requirements on abortion providers, effectively shutting down all but five clinics in the state.

Sen. Davis filibustered the legislation for more than twelve hours and, with the aid of hundreds of protesters, effectively blocked Senate Bill 5 from passing the Senate and reaching the governor’s desk before midnight. Davis was championed around the country as a political celebrity standing, quite literally, for women’s rights. People For the American Way recognized Davis’ efforts, encouraging members to sign a note of appreciation and support.

However, her victory may be short lived.

Perry called the first special session to give the legislature more time to consider anti-choice legislation that failed to advance during the regular legislative period. A special session follows different rules than the normal session, as the governor has sole discretion over what the legislature can work on. Perry said that the legislature also failed to pass bills on infrastructure funding and mandatory life sentences for 17 year-olds committing capital felonies, providing convenient additional justifications for the necessity of a second session. Perry said,

"Texans value life and want to protect women and the unborn. Texans want a transportation system that keeps them moving. Texans want a court system that is fair and just. We will not allow the breakdown of decorum and decency to prevent us from doing what the people of this state hired us to do."

Davis refused to let Perry’s affront go unanswered, firing back that it was Perry and Lt. Gov. Dewhurst who had “led the charge” in the breakdown of decorum and “made a mockery of all of the rules we run by in this state.”

As the New York Times reported yesterday, it is unlikely that the Democrats will manage to block the bill for another 30-day session. It will probably pass. But as the governor can call as many special sessions as he likes, even a successful second filibuster may not be enough to stop the Republicans’ anti-choice agenda.

The second session begins July 1st. The war on women rages on.


McCollough: Choice Means Encouraging Women to be 'As Promiscuous as Possible'

Right-wing talk show host Kevin McCullough has a column in the American Family Association-affiliated One News Now today, cleverly titled “Barack Hussein Gosnell.” McCollough’s argument is that President Obama, by speaking at Planned Parenthood recently, is morally equivalent to accused murderer Kermit Gosnell.

McCullough claims that “every woman I’ve ever spoken to on the matter” agrees with him that Planned Parenthood is not “helpful to women.” Instead, he writes, “They say they give women choices -- which they interpret to mean, encourage them to be as promiscuous as possible.”

See Planned Parenthood touts cancer screenings, but Lila Rose proved they don't do mammograms. They claim they are improving the health of women, but they have become the biggest cemetery of unborn women in history. They say they give women choices -- which they interpret to mean, encourage them to be as promiscuous as possible. Planned Parenthood may be many things, but helpful to women, is not one of them -- so says every woman I've ever spoken to on the matter.

McCullough goes on to accuse the president of “abject racial self-loathing” because of his support for choice.

What is also stunning is the abject racial self-loathing it must require for President Obama and Kermit Gosnell to directly and unequivocally contribute to an organization and "medical" practices that were set up by design to extinguish the people with their same color of skin.

Margaret Sanger -- Planned Parenthood's founder -- argued in articles such as "The Eugenic Conscience" (February 1921) that sterilizing the "unfit" Negro was her "plan of Salvation" for the American civilization.

Evidently President Obama and Kermit Gosnell strongly agree with that racial "solution." Their actions certainly demonstrate as much.

The truth is Kermit Gosnell's house of horrors, where he burned, chopped, snipped, and stabbed babies to death, is very little different than the Planned Parenthood "super-sized" abortion mills. Very little different indeed.

The truth is that both Planned Parenthood and Kermit Gosnell prey upon mostly immigrant minority women. And while President Obama trots out Sandra Fluke to yell "squirrel" about contraception and has attempted to force those of us who have a moral objection to providing money to those who will burn, chop, snip and stab babies, the smoke screen never fools the children who always end up dead.

Barber: Roe v Wade and Dred Scott Are 'Twin Bookends of Evil'

Last week, Mat Staver and Matt Barber hailed legislation passed in North Dakota and elsewhere aimed at dramatically curtailing the availability and legality of abortion, with Barber proclaiming that Roe v Wade was no different than the infamous Dred Scott decision, calling them "twin bookends of evil" and "shameful decisions that are a blight on America's history":

40 Years After Roe, My Personal Fight for Justice

"I am my mother's child. The one she told one day many years ago, as I laid on a hospital table that, 'God did not intend for your life to be like mine!' The forms had been signed, we were in agreement and I was tearfully rolled into the very cold, unfriendly operating room.

"It was 1974, one year after the landmark decision Roe v. Wade legalized abortion. I was fourteen and my mother was twenty-eight, on welfare with five other children. Fourteen at the time of my birth, she was what we now call 'an unwed teen mother.' On this day, at that moment, the decision was not about legislation or white men in suits far away. It was not about the doctor, the nurse, or the technicians. It was just the two of us and God."

I wrote those words, published in In Motion magazine, 15 years ago. I had at that point devoted more than a decade to working with the black church to fight for reproductive rights in my home state of Louisiana and in Washington, making sure that girls and women like me have not only reproductive choice, but reproductive justice -- the choice to determine our own futures and the justice that comes from a system that respects us as human beings with equal dignity and equal rights.

Today, on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and after 15 more years of fighting and praying, I see many reasons to celebrate. I am grateful for those who continue to fight for women's rights in the halls in Congress and in front of clinics; to the doctors and medical staff who risk their own safety to care for women in need; to the women who must shut out the noise of politics to make the most personal of decisions; and to the family and friends who stand behind them. Behind an issue that inspires so much venom and shouting, it's easy to forget that there are countless men and women who are quietly fighting for justice on a small, personal scale.

But on the national scale we see a very different picture. In 2012, state legislatures passed 92 laws restricting reproductive justice and many more followed in 2012. Republican presidential candidates and their allies in Congress went after women's right to birth control, claiming that an employer should decide whether a woman's health care covers her contraceptive care. Prominent figures on the right dismissed the wrenching circumstances of women who become pregnant by rape, claiming it wasn't possible or that some rapes are more "legitimate" than others. While so many Americans grappled with their own and their loved ones' decisions with decency and grace, our politicians experienced a crisis of empathy and a deficit of facts.

Particularly galling is the campaign by some far-right groups to promote the idea that legal abortion is a "genocide" of African Americans. This campaign seeks to paint black women as passive victims rather than as fully realized human beings facing real, tough choices. In the process, it has helped to make the political debate about reproductive rights even more about caricatures of women and less about real women.

Polling consistently shows that Americans' personal views of reproductive rights are not always the same as their political views. A recent poll by Planned Parenthood found that 23 percent thought abortion was "morally acceptable" and 40 percent said it "depends on the situation." That "depends" is important -- as has been the case with the LGBT rights, civil rights, paycheck fairness and gun violence prevention movements, sometimes strongly held political opinions must bend when they run up against the real experiences of a real person.

I celebrate 1974 and the start of my "pro-choice, pro-faith" journey. I have hope for the future of reproductive rights. Roe v. Wade still holds in the courts. And last year, as attacks on reproductive rights reached a fever pitch, women across the country rose up with their votes. Women didn't ask our politicians to make the personal political. But we must continue to fight back by making the political personal. This is about choice and it's about justice -- for every woman, no matter her story.

This post was originally published at the Huffington Post.


Handel: Planned Parenthood 'Literally Co-Opted the Color Pink' from Komen

Former Susan G. Komen executive Karen Handel, the Georgia Republican politician who has been largely credited with the cancer charity’s disastrous decision last year to withdraw its grants to Planned Parenthood, spoke yesterday to the Family Research Council. Promoting her book about the episode, “Planned Bullyhood,” Handel accused Planned Parenthood of launching an “unprecedented, premeditated, Mafia-style assault” on Komen. Further, she alleges that Planned Parenthood “literally co-opted the color pink” from Komen in a sinister “bait and switch.”


What Republican 'Soul-Searching'?

On Nov. 6, Americans turned out in massive numbers to reelect President Obama, take away seats from Republicans in the House and the Senate, and pass progressive ballot measures throughout the country. But it seems that Republicans in Washington and in states across the country just didn't get the hint. Despite all the talk of post-election "soul-searching," there doesn't appear to be any self-examination going on among those currently clinging to their seats in Congress and state legislatures.

Just look at Michigan. Just weeks after the state legislature's Republicans took a drubbing from voters, who cut their majority in the state House from 18 to 8 despite recent Republican gerrymandering, the state's GOP leadership went on a right-wing rampage.

First, they passed a package of so-called "right to work" laws that are meant to politically weaken unions and have the side effect of financially weakening the middle class. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder was against "right to work" before he was for it, thanks to some powerful arm-twisting from corporate front groups.

Then, they got to work on some extreme anti-choice measures. One tries to force abortion clinics out of business by regulating them into the ground. It also places unnecessary burdens on women, including requiring them to prove they weren't "coerced" into seeking an abortion; prohibiting them from consulting with their doctor via videoconference; and requiring them to sign a death certificate and hold a funeral for the aborted fetus (this requirement, at least, has just been removed from the bill). Yet another bill would let doctors refuse to provide or employers refuse to cover any procedures they find immoral. This one isn't just about abortion - it could allow employers to refuse their employees insurance coverage for contraception, or even blood transfusions. Sounds familiar? The Blunt Amendment in the U.S. Senate - wildly unpopular except among the Senate GOP - would have done the same thing.

Anybody who was paying the least bit of attention to this year's elections would have noticed that two of the things voters find most repugnant about today's GOP is its blind allegiance to big corporations and its enthusiasm for regulating women's health.

Apparently the Republican Party wasn't paying attention. Or is just too beholden to the interests of the Corporate and Christian Right to care.

What's happening in Michigan is just a microcosm of the whole. In Ohio, immediately after an election shaped in part by the GOP's toxic attacks on women's health, Republican legislators got to work trying to defund Planned Parenthood. And in Washington, DC, Republican leaders are approaching fiscal cliff negotiations with the sole goal of protecting George W. Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy.

This isn't what I'd call "soul-searching."

This post originally appeared at the Huffington Post.


Endorsements Cite Supreme Court

Overwhelming majority of endorsements cite the Supreme Court as an enormous contributing factor to keeping President Obama in office.

Richard Mourdock's Religion Trumps Everyone Else's

The GOP candidate's explanation for why he'd outlaw abortion in the case of rape raises serious questions about the role of religion in making government policy.

Obama Administration is a Phyllis Schlafly Nightmare: 'Whatever the Feminists Want, the Feminists Get'

Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly yesterday spoke to the American Family Association’s Sandy Rios to denounce the Democratic National Platform’s support for reproductive freedom and marriage equality. According to Schlafly, “the feminists completely control the Obama administration” and “whatever the feminists want, the feminists get,” including endorsements of abortion rights and same-sex marriage. There is “support of everything the feminists want,” Schlafly lamented, “It’s a very destructive force in our society.”

Rios: According to the platform, there is no place for politicians or the government to get in the way of abortions, so they’re saying that abortion—

Schlafly: Sandy, let me explain. The feminists completely control the Obama administration. Valerie [Jarrett] is considered the most powerful person in the country. Whatever the feminists want, the feminists get. That’s why we’re getting support of abortion by the Obama administration, and paying for it, forcing is to pay for it, which is what they want, and support of same-sex marriage, and support of everything the feminists want. It’s a very destructive force in our society.

Rios: It’s certainly not a forward movement, it’s a backward movement, I think.

Schlafly even claimed that progressives want people “to look to the government for everything,” unlike during the Great Depression when “we didn’t look to the government for any solution and they didn’t give us any solution and we grew up to be the greatest generation.” While Schlafly denies that the government didn’t play a role in ending the Great Depression, she appears to forget that there was significant government intervention through the New Deal and other government-driven programs to stimulate the sluggish economy:

Rios: You know Phyllis just philosophically, this is what the left always says, they always say that conservatives are old fashioned, they mock the old sitcoms you know where they had separate beds, twin beds, they mock the sitcoms of the 50s, the Andy Griffith’s, the Dick Van Dyke’s, they think that’s funny and amusing and to be progressive, to be modern, to be in-this-decade—the Constitution is old and outdated too, by the way, that’s what they think—they always make that argument that to be forward moving is to throw off any of the constraints of the past. Can you just from your perspective of life, why would we hang on to boundaries, regulations and rules from the past? Isn’t this a new day?

Schlafly: Because they work. Our Constitution has lasted over two centuries; no other country’s has done that. When our borders are open people want to come in, they’re not trying to get out, I think that’s a pretty good test of whether a country is successful or not. We built a great country of great prosperity and enormous freedom and some people don’t like that, they want to look to the government for everything. I grew up during the Great Depression, we didn’t look to the government for any solution and they didn’t give us any solution and we grew up to be the greatest generation.

Barton: Gay Rights and Reproductive Rights mean 'You are Going Down as a Nation'

While appearing on televangelist Kenneth Copeland’s Believer’s Voice of Victory, disgraced pseudo-historian once again used his platform on Copeland’s show to deliver an attack on gay rights and women’s rights, this time saying that marriage equality and reproductive rights lead to a nation’s destruction. “If a nation says, ‘hey, we want abortion, we want homosexual marriage,’ it is going down,” Barton said, “anytime you move away from what God says, you are going down as a nation.”


Copeland: I don’t care who you are, if you turn loose of God and the truth of God, you’re going down, brother! You can’t—it’s created that way; you can’t violate the way it was put together.

Barton: That is why public policies in a nation are so important. If a nation says, ‘hey, we want abortion, we want homosexual marriage,’ it is going down.

Copeland: It’s going down.

Barton: You have taken what God had up top and said ‘we’re not going to do that, we want to go in a different’—anytime you move away from what God says, you are going down as a nation.

Why is Mitt Romney Outraged at Todd Akin and Not at Paul Ryan?

Mitt Romney is outraged! He's insulted! He's offended!

Why? A Republican Senate candidate dared to state a position on choice that is exactly the same as that of Romney's own running mate.

Missouri Rep. Todd Akin is attracting plenty of attention for his bizarre and idiotic justification for refusing to allow rape victims to have abortions. But the extreme policy position behind those comments - a policy that is the GOP standard -- should be getting just as much attention.

Akin explained this weekend how rape victims shouldn't be allowed reproductive choice because they already have access to some mysterious anti-pregnancy control system: "First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

Romney responded today in an interview with the National Review:

"Congressman's Akin comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong," Romney said. "Like millions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive."

"I have an entirely different view," Romney said. "What he said is entirely without merit and he should correct it."

What is Romney's "entirely different view"? That Rep. Akin doesn't have a basic understanding of the female anatomy that he's so interested in legislating? That Akin feels the need to draw a distinction between "legitimate rape" and "illegitimate rape"? That Akin thinks rape victims shouldn't be able to choose whether to carry their rapists' children?

Romney should start by directing his outrage at his own running mate. Rep. Paul Ryan not only opposes abortion rights for rape victims, he was a cosponsor of a so-called "personhood" amendment that would have classified abortion as first degree murder and outlawed common types of birth control. Ryan has also bought into the "legitimate rape" nonsense, cosponsoring legislation with Akin that would have limited federal services to victims of "forcible rape" - a deliberate attempt to write out some victims of date rape and statutory rape.

Romney himself has flirted with the "personhood" idea, telling Mike Huckabee during the primary that he'd "absolutely" support such a measure. When he was later confronted about the comment at a town hall meeting, it became clear that Romney had no idea how the process he wanted to legislate actually worked.

And Romney hasn't always been keen to stand up for the victims of rape. In a Republican debate in February, he actually got in an argument with Newt Gingrich over who was least in favor of requiring hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victims they were treating.

Now the Romney campaign is trying to distance itself from Akin by saying that "a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape." But Romney has also vowed to nominate Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, returning to states the power to outlaw or allow abortion as they choose. If Romney and anti-choice activists get their wish from the Supreme Court, a Romney-Ryan administration would have no power to stop states from imposing whichever abortion bans they decide to impose. The promise to carve out an exception for rape victims is not a promise they would be able to keep.

The real scandal of Rep. Akin's comments isn't the faulty sex-ed he's teaching. Instead, his comments expose the anti-choice movement's skewed and condescending view of women. Akin can't accept that a woman who fits his definition of virtue - the victim of a "legitimate rape" - would also need to seek an abortion, and he has made up false science to support that assumption. But with or without the weird right-wing science, that same false distinction underlies all anti-choice policies - including those embraced by Romney and Ryan.

Romney can feign all the outrage he wants at Rep. Akin's misogynistic pseudo-science. But until he can draw a clear distinction between Akin's policies and his own, his protests will ring hollow.

This post originally appeared in the Huffington Post.


Paul Ryan: Roe v. Wade is 'Virtually Identical' to Dred Scott

In the 2004 presidential election, President Bush used “dog whistle” politics during a debate with John Kerry by subtly linking the Dred Scott case to Roe v. Wade. This year, Republican vice presidential pick Paul Ryan is more explicit about his views. He supported a bill to outlaw all abortions and some contraceptives, and in 2010 he said that the “the Supreme Court made virtually the identical mistake” in Roe v. Wade that it made in the 1857 Dred Scott case:

Yet, identifying who “qualifies” as a human being has historically proved to be more difficult than the above examples suggest. Twice in the past the U.S. Supreme Court—charged with being the guardian of rights—has failed so drastically in making this crucial determination that it “disqualified” a whole category of human beings, with profoundly tragic results.

The first time was in the 1857 case, Dred Scott v. Sandford. The Court held, absurdly, that Africans and their American descendants, whether slave or free, could not be citizens with a right to go to court to enforce contracts or rights or for any other reason. Why? Because “among the whole human race,” the Court declared, “the enslaved African race were not intended to be included…[T]hey had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” In other words, persons of African origin did not “qualify” as human beings for purposes of protecting their natural rights. It was held that, since the white man did not recognize them as having such rights, they didn’t have them. The implication was that Africans were property—things that white persons could choose to buy and sell. In contrast, whites did “qualify,” so government protected their natural rights.

Every person in this country was wounded the day this dreadful opinion was handed down by this nation’s highest tribunal. It made a mockery of the American idea that human equality and rights were given by God and recognized by government, not constructed by governments or ethnic groups by consensus vote. The abhorrent decision directly led to terrible bloodshed and opened up a racial gap that has never been completely overcome. The second time the Court failed in a case regarding the definition of “human” was in Roe v. Wade in 1973, when the Supreme Court made virtually the identical mistake. At what point in time does a human being exist, the state of Texas asked. The Court refused to answer: “We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.” In other words, the Court would not “qualify” unborn children as living persons whose human rights must be guaranteed.

At the core, today’s “pro-choice” liberals are deeply pessimistic. They denigrate life and offer fear of the present and the future—fear of too many choices and too many children. Rather than seeing children and human beings as a benefit, the “pro-choice” position implies that they are a burden. Despite the “pro-choice” label, liberals’ stance on this subject actually diminishes choices, lowers goals, and leads us to live with less. That includes reducing the number of human beings who can make choices.

In contrast, pro-life conservatives are natural optimists. On balance, we see human beings as assets, not liabilities. All conservatives should find it easy to agree that government must uphold every person’s right to make choices regarding their lives and that every person’s right to live must be secured before he or she can exercise that right of choice. In the state of nature—the “law of the jungle”—the determination of who “qualifies” as a human being is left to private individuals or chosen groups. In a justly organized community, however, government exists to secure the right to life and the other human rights that follow from that primary right.

The Right's 2012 Solution: "Just Close Your Eyes"

This post originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

Last month, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett offered a solution for women who were going to be forced by the government to undergo a completely unnecessary ultrasound against their wills: "You can't make anybody watch, okay? Because you just have to close your eyes." The governor's suggestion would be almost comical, if it weren't for the tragic fact that forcing women to watch was the whole point of the legislation Corbett supported.

But it seems that Corbett's suggestion doesn't just apply to women seeking abortions in the Keystone state. It is, in essence, what the GOP is telling to every woman turned off by the party's attacks on reproductive rights, equal pay and domestic violence protections: "You just have to close your eyes."

Mitt Romney's campaign is banking on the fact that voters of both genders are concerned about the economy in these uncertain times. Polls show that they're right. But just because you're concerned with the economy doesn't mean you ignore it when a group of people are systematically taking away your rights for their own short-term political gain.

Sadly, this is the new normal. The Tea Party's success has been based on this "just close your eyes" formula. Swept into power on a wave of economic dissatisfaction, Tea Party legislators in Washington and the states asked the country to "close its eyes" as it did everything but fix the economy. "Pay no attention while we roll back decades of progress everything else you care about. Just close your eyes while we bash immigrants, cut essential services, make it very hard to vote, and take away collective bargaining rights". Many minorities have been affected, particularly in the last two years, but arguably and amazingly, no group has been under attack more than the American majority--women.

A new report from People For the American Way investigates the new landscape that the Tea Party is creating for American women. Mississippi is set to become the only state in the country without a legal abortion clinic. Texas is on the path to denying reproductive health care to 130,000 low-income women. Wisconsin repealed its enforcement mechanism for equal pay lawsuits. Senate Republicans are fighting to stop the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Following an all-male panel speaking on women's health, a woman who dares speak in front of Congress about the importance of affordable contraception is called a "slut."

Even with closed eyes, these things are very hard to miss. The Romney campaign has attempted to distract voters from this train wreck of anti-woman policies by claiming that a second Obama administration will hurt women economically. Last week, they hammered hard on the claim that women have accounted for 92 percent of job losses under President Obama- a mangled statistic that ignores, among other factors, that many of those losses were the result of Republican-led layoffs of teachers and other government employees. Then they decided to accuse Democrats of waging a "War on Moms" - forgetting, perhaps, the candidate's history of aggressively pushing low-income women to work outside of the home when their children are very young.

Women haven't bought it. In polls, Romney still trails Obama among women voters by double digits. And in an under-reported fact, among women ages 18 to 29, he's losing by an astounding 45 points. You don't need a political science degree that know that that spells disaster.

Mitt Romney and congressional Republicans seem to think they can get away with almost anything because, in the end, their Election Day hopes will be saved by a bad economy. The problem is, the people they attack on a regular basis - women, gays, Latinos, Muslims, you name it -know the Tea Party's record on the economy and its history of cynical, culture-war attacks that deeply affect the lives of real people. We have our eyes wide open.


Wisconsin’s Walker Signs Religious Right Wish-List of Bills

We noted on Friday that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, working with a Republican-led state legislature, had taken the extraordinary step of repealing the state’s enforcement mechanism for pay discrimination lawsuits.

But it turns out that’s not all. Daily Kos points out that along with equal pay repeal, Gov. Walker signed what reads like a wish list of bills from the Religious Right:

The first bill bans abortion coverage through policies obtained through a health insurance exchange, set to be created under the federal health care reform law starting in 2014. The only exceptions would be in cases of rape, incest or medical necessity. [...]

The second bill requires a woman seeking an abortion to undergo an exam and consult with a doctor alone, away from her friends and family. The doctor must determine whether someone is pressuring the woman into the procedure. Doctors who break the law could be charged with a felony. [...]

The sex education bill requires teachers in schools that offer sex education to stress abstinence as the only sure way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

The bill also declares that sex education teachers do not have to address contraception. That's a dramatic shift from current state law, which requires teachers to instruct students on birth control options.

And it doesn’t end there. Walker has now decided to stop defending a law that gives gay and lesbian couples the right to visit each other in the hospital, a law that an anti-gay group is disputing in court.

That’s right. After making it harder for women to sue for pay discrimination, setting up demeaning hurdles for women seeking legal abortions, and giving the go-ahead for ineffective sex ed, Gov. Walker is going out of his way to try to keep same-sex couples from visiting each other in the hospital.

Is this the governor’s “jobs” agenda?

Share this page: Facebook Twitter Digg SU Digg Delicious