In his Super Tuesday press conference this week, GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump insisted with a straight face that he is “going to be really good for women.” Never mind that just seconds earlier, Trump had pledged to defund Planned Parenthood so long as it has, in his words, “the abortion going on.” Never mind that this is a man who has taken every opportunity to demean the women around him with insults ranging from “bimbo” to “dog” to “fat pig.” Never mind that Trump’s analysis of the gender pay gap is that “you’re gonna make the same if you do as good a job.” No, Trump insists, he’ll be just great for women if elected president.
His claim is beyond outrageous, but the truth is that as bad as Donald Trump is on women’s issues, his positions are in line with the Republican Party as a whole, including the other GOP candidates. It’s just that Trump’s brand of brash, insulting rhetoric is what jumps out the most.
One look at Sen. Marco Rubio’s record is enough to see his extremism on issues affecting women’s physical and economic well-being. Rubio has said that he personally believes all abortions should be banned except in cases of life endangerment, but that he would sign legislation with exceptions for survivors of rape or incest if forced to compromise. Rubio once called focusing on raising the minimum wage a “waste of time.” (People making minimum wage, disproportionately women of color, might not agree that it’s such a waste.) Rubio voted against the 2013 Violence Against Women Act. Yes, you read that right—he cast a vote in opposition to reauthorizing a measure responding to the epidemic of violence against women. He believes the Supreme Court needs justices who “understand” that past rulings protecting abortion rights and marriage equality are “constitutionally flawed”—a statement that is particularly alarming as the current Supreme Court vacancy fight highlights the impact of Court composition on our basic rights and liberties.
Sen. Ted Cruz’s record is just as concerning. Cruz believes that the federal government should have no role in deciding if businesses should be able to deny paid family leave to their workers, and called a bill to address the gender pay gap a “political show vote.” He has expressed support for a radical “personhood” constitutional amendment that would not only criminalize all abortions, but could also make some forms of birth control illegal as well. Perhaps most disturbing of all, Cruz touted the endorsement of an extreme anti-choice activist who has written that it is the duty of the government to execute doctors who provide abortions.
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Meanwhile, the so-called moderate in the race is no better on these issues. As governor of Ohio, John Kasich has overseen the closing of a full half of the abortion clinics in the state. He’s signed every single anti-choice bill that has made its way to his desk. This includes a bill just last month to defund Planned Parenthood in the state, which Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards has said will have “devastating consequences for women across Ohio.”
The entire slate of Republican presidential candidates, without exception, holds dangerous and extreme views on the issues that shape women’s lives. From praising activists who believe abortion doctors should be killed to voting against the Violence Against Women Act, the GOP candidates are wildly out of touch with the lived experiences of women.