Republicans for a united front against women

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Alienating women doesn’t seem to concern the Republican party these days as its members righteously deny any sort of “war on women” while simultaneously attempting to redefine rape, cut Federal funding for family planning, and advocate that letting women die is preferable to allowing an abortion to proceed. Not to mention the obsession with defeating their cherished villain, Planned Parenthood.

The battles have been raging for some time. Back in 2011, a Georgia state legislator, Bobby Franklin, tried to change the legal term for a victim of rape, stalking, and domestic violence to “accuser.” Naturally, he thought victims of other crimes that are less gender-oriented, like burglary, should retain their status as victims. He also wanted women who had miscarriages to be charged with a felony unless they could prove it happened without “intervention.”

Lest you think these examples are 4-year-old Tea Party nonsense, consider that Sen. Marco Rubio, a current mainstream presidential candidate, has clearly stated he thinks abortion should never be permitted, not even in the case of incest or rape, not even if a woman’s life is in danger.

The increasingly hostile attitude toward women’s reproductive health rights was displayed in no small measure at a recent congressional hearing when Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards was forced to endure five hours of snide, rude and uncivil discourse with Republicans with a specific ax to grind: eliminating all federal funding to Planned Parenthood.

It wasn’t just about abortion, although they hardly concealed that agenda. After all, thanks to the Hyde Amendment, no federal funding can be used to pay for abortions except in the case of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. Having won that battle, the Republicans now want to prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal funding as reimbursement for providing family planning services, preventive screenings, or STD testing for 2.7 million Americans.

During the hearing, Richards was continually lectured to and castigated by men on a mission. She remained calm and responsive despite the flailing and frothing, even managing to suppress her glee when Chairman Jason Chaffetz presented a nonsensical slide that he pompously declared came from Planned Parenthood’s corporate reports. Within seconds Richards pointed out the source of the misleading information, an anti-abortion interest group, not Planned Parenthood.

Richards was berated for her high (non-federal) salary, although it’s lower than many similar executives. It certainly isn’t enough to compensate for the danger the rage from the right creates for her and other Planned Parenthood personnel who regularly endure harassment, arson and death threats.

Richards, the daughter of the legendary Ann Richards, former governor of Texas, doesn’t scare easily and certainly didn’t retreat when confronted by her zealous opponents. Like our own legendary Planned Parenthood activists, Patty Elzy, Alison Gaulden, Elisa Cafferata, Louise Bayard-de-Volo, and Roz Parry, she displayed a courageous and intelligent counterpoint whenever allowed to get a word in edgewise.

They know the American public is with them. Planned Parenthood consistently polls much higher than any political party or candidate.

As Richards told Rachel Maddow in an interview following the hearing, “People in America do not want to go back to the 1950s when women had no access to family planning, when abortion was not legal. Women are making huge progress in this country, and believe me, young people cannot believe that this is a conversation happening in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

Republicans seem united in their call to defund Planned Parenthood so it’s a fair question to ask any local Republican running for office this year: Why do you want to take away a woman’s right to access the health provider of her choice and make her own medical decisions? Let the answer guide your vote.