Republicans declare war on women over, but state-level battles still exist


Recently, Republican politicians of national stature called for a cease-fire in the GOP War on Women – if not an outright withdrawal. Senator John McCain (R – Ariz.) has acknowledged that this strategy is a loser for the GOP, and Representative Richard Hanna (R – NY) has told his female constituents their rights are under assault and to “contribute your money to people who speak out on your behalf, because the other side — my side — has a lot of it.” You can’t get much more specific than that.

How then is it possible for the very same Republicans to be both on the right and wrong sides of this issue at the very same instant? Put on your waders; these are muddy waters and ‘gators lurk in this swamp.

Exhibit A: Helen Brosnan’s fine article on PolicyMic, which appeared a few weeks ago when the brou-ha-ha over inappropriate language to women came to its inevitable head. Few men, whether R’s or D’s realized that this wasn’t a free speech issue at all. To their credit, the Republican women on PolicyMic knew it immediately.

Exhibit B: Rachel Maddow’s interview with former Surgeon General (to George W. Bush) Richard Carmona. Maddow sets up the interview with about 3 minutes of metaphorical amplification of her thesis that Republicans are muddying the waters around a number of issues, but the point Carmona makes is quite significant. He recognizes an assault on women’s rights and women’s health when he sees one and has switched political parties to run for the Senate in Arizona on the Democratic ticket.

Arizona is one of the states which has passed or is currently working on more restrictive legislation on abortion and other women’s health issues. Very often these bills are similar sounding and mandate unnecessary procedures and/or the reading to women of scripts that contain misinformation regarding the association of breast cancer with abortions. (IRONY ALERT: why are Republicans mandating procedures and protesting the ACA mandate to buy health insurance at the same time? I told you there were ‘gators in the swamp) Other states busily restricting women’s rights and trying to return us to the status of chattel are: Texas, Idaho, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kansas, New Hampshire, Florida, South Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio and Utah. 

North Carolina’s state assembly passed the euphemistically titled “Women’s Right to Know” Bill in 2011; mandating that a woman see an ultrasound and hear the fetus’ heartbeat – along with a doctor’s/technician’s scripted description of visible characteristics. The bill was vetoed by Democratic Governor Beverly Perdue, but overridden in a special legislative session. Implementation of the law is suspended pending legal challenge.

Kentucky’s state legislature voted down their version of the ALEC-drafted pre-abortion ultrasound bill.

Answer to the question posed, above: national Republicans can wash their hands of the War on Women because they know that their state and local counterparts are still hard at work; trying to cut women off at the pass.

My solution to this problem is an appeal to all American women across the political spectrum to unite to rid ourselves of these state representatives and state senators who insist upon pursuing legislation inimical to our interests and to our very health and well being (by the way – sympathetic men are invited to join this effort).

This will take thought, research and, definitely, ticket splitting - as is illustrated by the vote on Idaho’s SB1387 ultrasound bill. On March 19, the bill passed on a 23-12 vote but 5 Republicans crossed party lines to vote NAY with the Democrats: James Hammond (R-Couer d’Alene), Shawn Keogh (R-Sandpoint), John Goedde (R-Couer d-Alene), Joyce Broadsword (R-Slagle) and Tim Corder (R-Mountain Home). Thus, for example, if you’re a Democrat in Hammond’s district; you may want to vote for him this time as a reward for his support in trying to defeat the Ultrasound bill. Or, if you’re a Republican and he gets an even more rightwing primary challenger; support Hammond.

Special note to Virginia Democrats: 2 Democrats voted with the Republicans to pass Virginia’s ultrasound bill. We want to get Charles J. Colgen (D-Prince William) and Phillip P. Puckett (D-Russell) out of office, too, if good alternatives present themselves.

Ladies and gentlemen; regardless of your choice for president, please use the 2012 and 2014 election cycles to examine your downballot choices and to replace the paternalistic, authoritarian ilk who are working so hard to return us to the 19th century.

In closing, please read these simple words:

Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

That is the entirety of the effective language of the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution – first introduced in Congress in 1923. Perhaps, if we can weed out our state legislatures, we can finally ratify it.