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Collateral Damage From the War on Women

The war on women hurts Mitt Romney at the polls, especially with female voters. Two important stories out of the states, and a discussion of the awesome power of Madonna.

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Romney trailing in swing states with women

Wisconsin terrorist attack

Why not call it terrorism?

Georgia abortion ban

Another day, another anti-choice nut comparing women to farm animals

On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be covering how much damage the war on women is doing to Romney’s campaign. Also, two big news stories out of the states, and a digression into the awesome sexual power of Madonna.

Rachel Maddow recently had reason to ask the question that eventually all who deal with the anti-choice movement find themselves compelled to ask.

  • maddow *

Well, yes, they certainly do think that. Which is why anti-choicers cheerfully claim that abortion causes depression and breast cancer, and that contraception is abortion, and that 90% of what Planned Parenthood does is abortion and really, there’s too many lies to even know where to begin. Yes, they do think being “pro-life” exempts them from having to live in the factual world.

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The war on women is a funny thing. I believe it’s being conducted in large part out of passion, which is to say the people who are pushing for more restrictions on abortion and cutting off access to contraception really do think women are nothing more than baby buckets, and want to do everything in their power to force them back into that role. But it’s also about politics. Attacks on reproductive rights are an attempt to rally the support of the religious right, who are good door-knockers and voters if they’re sufficiently motivated. The trick, then, for conservative politicians is to pander to the religious right without getting too much attention from the mainstream media, and accidentally alerting female voters that aren’t fundamentalist Christians about how radical you are. That’s because women will turn on you if they think their basic rights are truly threatened.

Anti-choicers have had a remarkable track record at being able to chip away at reproductive rights without crossing the line into the territory where they awaken the sleeping beast, but as you know, the past few months that stopped being true. Attacks on contraception and the phrase “transvaginal probe” woke women up to how out of control the anti-choice movement has gotten. And now the presidential campaign is being affected.

  • Romney 1 *

Well, that’s cute, feeding into this weird presumption that women are some tiny special interest group whose desires can be ignored while trying to “win ‘em all”. It’s also utterly wrong-headed. Women actually out-vote men, by about 8 percentage points. Now obviously, women are a diverse group and many of them actually agree with misogynist policies. Older women and married women tend to be more conservative. But the thing is that the percentage of women that are unmarried is climbing as of late, and if they can get motivated to vote in large numbers, they will be a massive force pushing this election to the left.

What’s interesting is that Romney hasn’t held office in years and so hasn’t really had a role to play in affecting the policies that are making women angry. But Democrats have been able to effectively hang the war on women around his neck with ads such as this one.

  • Romney 2 *

To be fair, Romney clearly did this to himself by pandering when it comes to the war on women. In an attempt to win over voters that are stampeding to Gingrich and Santorum, Romney is using aggressive rhetoric on the subject of contraception access, attacking both rules requiring insurance companies to cover it and also attacking government subsidies that help women who can’t otherwise afford contraception to get it through clinics like Planned Parenthood. Hell, he went a step further and basically implied the President has the power to “get rid of” Planned Parenthood. That’s not really true. Even if the President uses his power to eliminate Title X funding, that wouldn’t necessarily mean the end of Planned Parenthood. It would mean that their ability to serve underserved women was severely reduced, but they would exist in some form.

Romney may front to reporters like he doesn’t need women’s support, but his campaign is pushing his wife out there in a desperate attempt to get some of those lost voters back.

  • Romney 3 *

Personally, I’m skeptical of the “look, I have a wife!” strategy when it comes to trying to distract female voters from anti-woman stances and policies. After all, the opposition invariably has a wife, too, so it seems the voters who are mainly looking to see if a candidate has a wife are going to be back at square one. This is particularly true even if you get into that “strong woman” political blather. The opponent that Romney has to worry about right now is Obama, and if you’ll recall, Obama also has a wife that’s well-regarded as charming and oh yes, strong.

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insert interview

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 A couple of big stories on the state level with regards to reproductive rights to cover. First off, the distressing news about a Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin.

  • states 1 *

There’s a number of things that are important to note about this story. First of all, it’s not likely a coincidence that the bomb went off right before a Republican primary. While it’s customary to pretend that Christian right terrorism is lone wolf nut behavior with no relationship to the larger anti-choice movement, the timing of this suggests otherwise. In reality, terrorists—whether Christian or Muslim—are using violence to try to make a political impact. The escalation of anti-choice rhetoric on the right surely played a hand in this, and the timing suggests the bomber was trying to communicate something with regards to the Republican Party.

The other important thing to understand is that this is, in fact, a terrorist attack. For some reason, when Christian right terrorists attack, there’s an unwillingness in much of the mainstream media to label their behavior “terrorism”. The Young Turks complained about this problem.

  • states 2 *

It’s important to remember that people who do this sort of thing think they’re morally justified. When we refuse to call it terrorism, that only reinforces their sense that violence is within the bounds of reasonable behavior. The fact that the anti-choice movement that incites violence by targeting specific doctors and clinics isn’t held responsible for this is outrageous.

  • states 3 *

That another state is banning abortion after 20 weeks is so common now as to barely count as a “news story” anymore, but the Georgia situation has that little extra something that makes it a fascinating story. There was a protracted fight over whether or not to let women terminate pregnancies that aren’t viable after 20 weeks. The antis don’t care if there’s 0% chance of you delivering a live baby, they want you to carry to term, since this was never about “life”, but about maximizing women’s pain and suffering. The slightly less awful side wanted to allow women abortions in these particular cases. The eventual “compromise” allowing this bill to head to the governor’s desk is that women who need these abortions will be allowed to have labor induced. They still have to go through labor and delivery, but they won’t be forced to carry to term. This is Georgia’s idea of “compassion”.

The debate over whether or not to force women to carry non-viable pregnancies to term brought out some of the ugliest rhetoric that anti-choicers have to wield against women, such as equating women with farm animals.

  • state 4 *

Yep, he compared the experience of a woman being forced to carry a non-viable pregnancy to term to being a farmer learning that he’s not going to have as many animals to raise for slaughter as he thought. Which implicitly compares women to farm animals, of course, but also makes you wonder what exactly this representative, Terry England, thinks is going to be done with the babies that he wants the state of Georgia to force women to bear.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, Rush Limbaugh’s ongoing “co-ed” obsession edition. I’m beginning to wonder if Limbaugh realizes college students are real people, since he talks about them strictly as if they’re characters in an ongoing porn loop in his head.

  • Limbaugh *

Of course, this is all part of a completely incoherent rant where he’s both angry that there’s student debt and angry that students want government action to lower student debt. Everything makes him angry, even things that contradict each other, but especially that someone out there is having sex without him.