Top Ten Ways GOP could avoid “War on Women” Label

(By Juan Cole)

Mike Huckabee objects to the charge that the Republican Party is waging a war on women. The GOP obviously is increasingly a party of angry white men. It suffers from a significant gender gap, which helped elect Barack Obama twice. Huckabee wants to just wish all these realities away. But in the spirit of bipartisan comity, let me just suggest ten ways the Republican Party really could cease waging a war on women and maybe get them back as voters:

1. Stop saying or implying that rape victims don’t deserve the right to abort their pregnancy. Making a woman who doesn’t want to bear her rapist’s child is unconscionable. Some 17,000 rape victims get pregnant every year in the US. The GOP looks like it is on the rapist’s side when it argues that no woman ever has the right to an abortion. GOP candidates are driven to say stupid things about pregnancy from rape being impossible in order to justify this stance, but then they just look heartless and stupid, both.

2. Stop saying that women on the verge of being killed by their pregnancy can’t have an abortion. That is just a form of murder by theology. Religious beliefs of relatively recent historical provenance about life beginning at conception can’t be imposed on the whole of the US by believers. A majority of Americans do not share that theology and the US government can’t establish evangelicalism or Catholicism as a state religion. 14 percent of Americans say they have no religion and 5 percent are not Christians. Only a minority of Americans are Catholics and evangelicals, so even if it weren’t unconstitutional it would be a tyranny of the minority.

3. Stop trying to make abortion de facto illegal. Most young women value their right to control their own bodies; a majority of the American public favors abortion rights, and the Supreme Court found the procedure legal. GOP legislators have managed to make sure no abortion providers exist in a majority of American counties.

4. Stop trying to abolish the Affordable Healthcare Act. Women disproportionately benefit from it. US government statistics show that

“Cost has also been a significant barrier to care for many women. According to one study, in 2010, one third of women spent 10 percent or more of their income on premiums and out of pocket costs. For low income women, that situation is much worse – over half of women who make $11,490 per year or less spend at least $1,149 a year on care. But through the Marketplace 6 out of 10 uninsured individuals can get coverage for $100 or less. ”

5. Stop imposing laws that voters must have government-issued i.d. That measure hurts women above all, since they are disproportionately present among the ranks of the urban poor, students and the elderly who are most disadvantaged by these anti-democratic and often unconstitutional laws.

6. Repeal your cuts to food stamps, since their loss hurts pregnant women and families with children.

7. Stop obstructing attempts to stop catastrophic human-made climate change. Women are the primary victims of severe weather events and climate change in the world. They are a majority of the world’s small farmers, and often have much less mobility than men in the face of natural disasters.

8. Stop trying to weaken the First Amendment separation of religion and state. Religion as interpreted by evangelicals and other conservative Christians is patriarchal and detracts from women’s rights.

9. Stop insisting that wives must submit to their husbands’ will.

10. Stop warmongering. Wars deprive service wives of their husbands for long periods of time if not forever. They endanger mortgages. They create widows both in the US population and among women abroad. Where they leave vets with severe injuries they impose heavy burdens on service wives for the rest of their lives. Wars are extremely expensive and paying for them has created budgetary crises that in turn has led to a pretext for cutting aid to dependent families and other programs that benefit women and their children.


The New Left Review examines the issue:

13 Responses

  1. Good list! Per your #1, here in New Mexico, a female (!!) Republican legislator was pushing a bill at the last session that would REQUIRE raped women to bear the rapist’s baby, in order to provide “evidence” that she had been raped. No pregnancy, no foul, I guess. Just goes to show how it’s not just the GOP men who don’t understand basic biology.

  2. It is probably mostly true that Republicans are not waging a war on women in a planned sense. It is more likely they just have a bunch of angry authoritarian types (including some women) running loose and giving vent to whatever pops into their shallow heads. Mike Huckabee suggests women control their libido and they won’t need birth control, but what about the women who, according to Congressman Steve Pearce (R-NM), are supposed to “submit” to their husband’s whenever he gets in the mood to dominate her? For women this probably feels like a war against them, but they are not alone. Most, apparently, in the Republican Party are at war with anyone, male or female, who are not members of their cabal.

  3. Issues on the list are mentioned which, at first glance, one wouldn’t associate with women’s rights. A big sign we are all in this together! And number 8, weakening church and state? Key. That one’s the hurricane eye, if abortion rights become more and more limited or dissapear completly.

    If you’ve ever tried talking with a pro life adherent, you know it’s pointless. Collectively, it’s a perfect poltical bandwagon, a rhetorical speaker’s power trip, with which they can tag on all manner of regressive stances.

    Presently, you can get Plan B, the morning after pill, without perscription, with ID, being 17, at Walgreens. At least now. Will the GOP stop it, being a scientific issue to do with human bodies and sex? Exactly why is the Plan B not being advertised online and on TV?

    • Actually there are TV ads. Here’s one.

      link to

      Though the rules for ads differ a lot market to market — some local stations will carry them and some won’t. In NYC you’re more likely to see the ads than in say, Salt Lake City.

  4. “The GOP obviously is increasingly a party of angry white men.”

    It isn’t only “angry white men.” There are also angry white women (Ann Coulter and Phyllis Schafly?) and a few angry non-white men; e.g., Alan West.

    • Polling and voting statistics suggest that the angry non-whites in the GOP are a very tiny minority, and there is a substantial gender gap in favor of men.

  5. Per the Daily Kos today (1/24/14), in 2005, Gov. Mike Huckabee signed a law requiring that all medical insurance plans sold in the state of Arkansas cover contraception. No exceptions for religious belief.

    He was for it before he was against it.

  6. Doesn’t abortion kill a lot more girls than boys ?
    Although that is not why I oppose abortion, isn’t fighting abortion a way to defend females ?

    • Brian — the answer is no, not in the US, though that might be the case in China or India. The thing is the sex of the baby is by no means obvious in the first three months.

      Second point: if no abortions are available a lot MORE women will die, full stop. There are many situations (some types of eclampsia, for example) where carrying ANY pregnancy o term is a gigantic, big, honking risk that could kill the prospective mother.

      Let me debunk a few myths here:

      1. Women don’t get abortion willy-nilly. This isn’t a decision any woman takes lightly.

      2. Do you trust a woman to make decisions about her health?

      The second point is important. I could tell you stories of deeply religious women who demonstrated at abortion clinics and then found themselves pregnant — and wanting an abortion. Many had had children already. Some faced health risks. The point is everyone’s story is different, which is precisely why we need to have it available.

      And I don’t want to see the “abortion on demand” canard. When ELSE would you want an abortion, when you don’t demand it? The whole is ue about making abortion hard to access because the wimminz might be too stupid to understand what they are doing is deeply insulting.

      Consent, Brian. It’s not a hard concept.

  7. You seem to have forgotten that women actually serve in the military, not just marry men who do. Losing your husband or having to take care of him after he comes home physically or psychologically devastated sucks, but getting killed in combat, maimed, having PTSD, or getting raped by your alleged comrades are all things that women in the military have to face, so let’s not forget that.

  8. One Way GOP could avoid “War on Women” Label

    1. Stop fighting war on women. Listen to them. Respect their wishes. Do not force your stupid wishes on them.

    One Way GOP could avoid “War on colored” Label

    1. Stop fighting war on colored folks. Listen to them. Respect their wishes. Do not force your stupid wishes on them.

    One Way GOP could avoid “War on …..

    You get the drift.

  9. Update on Steave Pearce, Repub Congressman from southern New Mexico (“little Texas”): last week, he earned derision for stating that the husband is the Biblical ruler of the household, and his wife must serve and follow him as she would G-d.

    Well, this weekend, in an interview with the local fishwrap (Albuquerque Journal), he said his wife made him agree to this arrangement. (rimshot!)

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