The fact that the weak employment report for August did not notably depress support for Pres. Obama has spooked Mitt Romney’s campaign about its all-in “it’s the economy, stupid,” strategy for the 2012 election. According to a report from Buzzfeed Politics, Romney’s teavangelical vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan is urging the campaign to pivot to social issues, including the GOP’s efforts to put government in charge of women’s reproductive decisions:
On Friday at the Values Voters Summit in Washington, D.C., Ryan offered a new gambit on offense, attacking Obama on social issues and income inequality in one fell swoop.”‘We’re all in this together’ — it has a nice ring,” Ryan said, quoting a frequent Obama line. “For everyone who loves this country, it is not only true but obvious,” he said. “Yet how hollow it sounds coming from a politician who has never once lifted a hand to defend the most helpless and innocent of all human beings, the child waiting to be born.”
Supporters of the president have cause to hope the Romney campaign will follow Ryan’s advice and open up a new front in their party’s War on Women. Making reproductive rights a top issue over the next two months would almost certainly widened the president’s double-digit lead among women. The latest CBS/New York Times poll found that Obama held a 12 percentage point lead over Romney among women, which is in line with other polling.
This represents a dramatic swing from the 2010 midterm elections just two years ago when women’s votes were key in helping the GOP-tea party gain control of the U.S. House along with governorships and state legislatures across the country. The GOP-tea party won in 2010 largely because it campaigned on a promise to focus like lasers on “jobs, jobs, jobs” if elected. But since after it took control last year, the tea party unmasked itself, revealing that it was not the new secular economic movement it had pretended to be but rather the same old right-wing evangelical bloc previously known as “Bush’s base.”Last year, teavangelicals in the House failed to propose, much less vote on, any significant jobs legislation. Instead, of “jobs, jobs, jobs,” their focus has been on “abortion, abortion, abortion.” According to a report from Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman, ranking member on the Energy and Commerce Committee, the 112th Congress has voted 55 times on “anti-women policies that undermine women’s health, roll back women’s rights, and defund programs and institutions that provide support for women.”
In February, the male-dominated House teavangelical leadership suffered a self-inflicted public-relations disaster after Rep. Darrell Issa, chair of the investigation committee, called an all-male panel of “experts” on women’s health to testify on a provision in the Affordable Care Act that requires employer-based insurance plans to cover contraceptives. In the ensuing controversy, Rush Limbaugh and other GOP spokesmen took to the airwaves to claim that that women only needed to take the Pill when they had sex, therefore unmarried women who took the pill every day were “sluts” who were demanding “free contraceptives” and who should “just stop having so much sex.”
There has been an even bigger surge in anti-women’s health laws in the states in the past two years — including, most infamously, laws requiring women to undergo vaginal probes and similar procedures and attempts to change the definition of rape in order to whittle away at the legal exceptions in states where access to abortion is limited to rape and incest victims and women whose pregnancies put their lives at risk.
According to a report from the Guttmacher Institute from January, a record number of these laws were proposed and/or passed in the first year of the teavangelical takeover in the states:
In the 50 states combined, legislators introduced more than 1,100 reproductive health and rights-related provisions, a sharp increase from the 950 introduced in 2010. By year’s end, 135 of these provisions had been enacted in 36 states, an increase from the 89 enacted in 2010 and the 77 enacted in 2009. (Note: This analysis refers to reproductive health and rights-related “provisions,” rather than bills or laws, since bills introduced and eventually enacted in the states contain multiple relevant provisions.)
Fully 68 percent of these new provisions — 92 in 24 states — restrict access to abortion services, a striking increase from last year, when 26 percent of new provisions restricted abortion. The 92 new abortion restrictions enacted in 2011 shattered the previous record of 34 adopted in 2005.
These are all big government laws that seize control over women’s decision-making about their own bodies and hand that control over to the government. As liberal radio host Stephanie Miller has said, “Republicans want a government so small it will fit in a vagina.”
But the success of the Republicans’ War on Women has come at some costs. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a radical Christianist, lost his place near the top of Mitt Romney’s list of potential vice presidential candidates after he became personally identified with a vaginal probe law in his state. And, in Missouri, another radical fundamentalist, Rep. Todd Akin, lost his sure bet to beat Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill after he claimed that women’s uteruses had magical powers to deflect sperm from rapists. Akin and McCaskill are in a dead heat in the latest polls.
Of course, Paul Ryan is closely aligned on these issue with Todd Akin. Like Akin, Ryan does not believe that there should be an exception for women seeking abortions because of rape. He has says that he sees rape as “just another form of conception.”