According to ABC News
, Obama has decided to return to a previous theme of his campaign: Romney and the GOP's "war on women." He is focusing on "women's health issues" during a campaign swing through Colorado and also in a barrage of TV ads running in several key swing states. Introducing him at one of his Colorado rallies was Sandra Fluke, who has become an "activist for women and women's health" since getting her 5 minutes of fame earlier this year from her controversial testimony before members of Congress. Fluke has also penned a column in the Huffington Post
entitled "Why I'm Standing With President Obama Today
," in which she warns about how "this election decides whether years of struggle for basic health care rights that so many women fought for will be rolled back." In case it wasn't clear enough, she comes back to this line again at the end of the article when she tells us that Romney "promises to turn back the clock on women's rights and our access to health care."
So what exactly have Romney and the GOP done to warrant these charges? According to the articles I linked to, it appears the GOP war on women comes down to three things: Romney's promise to repeal ObamaCare; his opposition to the Department of Health & Human Services mandate that employers must pay for health insurance that includes coverage for contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs for their employees, even if it violates the employer's religious beliefs; and his support for ending taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood. Another issue that I have heard Obama talk about is the notion that Romney opposes equal pay for women because of GOP opposition to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which was passed by a Democratic Congress in 2009. Let's look at these issues one at a time.
Of course, it is laughable to reduce the huge issue of ObamaCare to a "women's issue" just because women may get certain "free" benefits as a result of that legislation. There are many legitimate reasons to oppose ObamaCare for the sake of the entire country, including federal spending and deficit concerns, concerns about government control of health care, possible future health care rationing, likely reductions in the quality of care, expanded government power to force people to buy a product, and the burden that the additional taxes and regulations will place on individuals and businesses as well as the economy at large. To boil down this issue to nothing more than free breast cancer screenings for women is silly.
The "contraception mandate" is the second issue Obama is campaigning on. Conservatives are opposed to this mandate because of the government coercion of private businesses and because of the threat to religious liberty by forcing individuals to pay for something that they believe is morally wrong. The handwringing by the Left about how evil Republicans want to "take away women's birth control" is ridiculous. No one wants to ban contraceptives. This is not about whether women should be denied the right to use birth control, but about whether the government should be able to mandate that all of us pay for contraception through our insurance premiums -- and more specifically whether organizations like Catholic hospitals and charities should be forced to pay for contraception for their employees in defiance of their conscience.
It is ironic that Obama and the Democrats have chosen Sandra Fluke as their spokeswoman on this issue. Fluke is from a wealthy, privileged family, attended one of the top law schools in the country, and is virtually guaranteed a six-digit salary. The Democrats like to talk about the 1%. Well, Sandra Fluke is part of the 1%. Yet she whined in her testimony before members of Congress about how unfair it was that she had to pay for her own birth control (based on her free choice to attend a Catholic school) and how her friends (other privileged young women also attending one of the top law schools in the country) were miserable because they were forced to spend up to $3,000 per year on contraceptives. Well cry me a river. A month's supply of birth control can easily be purchased without insurance for $20 or $30. If women need special contraceptive drugs for non-contraceptive medical reasons, religious organizations are willing to provide them with insurance that pays for them. Why should the government mandate that all of us pay higher premiums to finance people's sex lives? No one is trying to tell these women what to do with their own bodies or denying them their right to birth control access. We are just politely asking them to take responsibility for their own choices and pay for their own dang birth control (or get their boyfriends to pay for it, or choose one of many insurance plans that cover contraceptives or one of many employers who pay for such insurance plans). Which brings us to another irony. Democrats constantly accuse Republicans of "wanting the government to get involved in people's bedrooms," yet they are the ones that are injecting government into this issue. Republicans are the ones who want to keep government out of people's bedrooms.
Then there is the issue of federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Democrats have tried hard to paint Planned Parenthood as primarily an organization that provides basic health care for poor women and might provide an abortion or two on the side if necessary. This is completely false, as a March 2011 Chiaroscuro Foundation report demonstrates
. Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the U.S., performing about 25% of all abortions. The number of abortions performed by Planned Parenthood has gone up proportionally to the amount of taxpayer funds provided to it by the federal government. Abortions provide more than 37% of Planned Parenthood's total revenue, and the organization has been aggressively expanding its abortion operations over the past few years. About 98% of all Planned Parenthood services to preganant women are abortion services. In 2009, the organization performed over 332,000 abortions and had only 7,000 prenatal care clients and less than 1,000 adoption referrals (and those non-abortion preganancy services are declining). Planned Parenthood is not a significant primary health care provider for women -- less than 20,000 of its 3 million clients received primary care services. They don't provide mammograms, for example; they only refer their clients for them.
Worst of all, Planned Parenthood is a corrupt organization
. It has been found guilty in courts of law for failing to comply with state parental notification laws and for failing to provide informed consent to a 13-year-old girl impregnated by her much older coach. It has covered up cases of statutory rape and incest. Its staff has been caught on video
more than once cooperating with sex trafficking of minors and coaching young girls not to reveal the ages of the men who impregnated them. Despite all of this corruption, Planned Parenthood is a $1 billion organization that has the lobbying clout on Capitol Hill to keep the federal dollars flowing into its coffers and has successfully bullied smaller organizations like the Susan G. Komen Foundation into continuing to fund its abortion-centered operations.
So tell me again, President Obama, why taxpayers should be funding this corrupt abortion provider? And why opposing such funding is "anti-woman"?
Finally, Obama's claim that Romney is against equal pay for women because of GOP opposition to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is ridiculous. For more than 40 years, U.S. law has mandated that men and women be paid equally for equal work. No one on the Republican side, least of all Mitt Romney, is arguing that these laws should be revoked. However, the Lilly Ledbetter Act goes far beyond that by essentially eliminating any time limit on pay discrimination lawsuits. It was named for a woman who lost a sex discrimination case before the Supreme Court because she waited more than 5 years after she found out she was earning less than her male co-workers before bringing her discrimination lawsuit.
Stuart Taylor has a readable and extremely insightful column
on this topic in National Journal
that I highly recommend. He points out that the Ledbetter law is a bonanza for trial lawyers, but is harmful for business because it makes it "harder than ever for employers to defend themselves against bogus (as well as valid) discrimination claims, effectively adding to the cost of each new hire" and thus indirectly harming workers, both male and female. And there is no need for such legislation, because the data indicates that "the gender gap can be explained to a large extent by nondiscriminatory factors" such as "child-related factors, demographics, academic majors, work experience, and occupational characteristics." While reasonable people may be able to disagree on whether the Ledbetter Act is a good idea or not, it is laughable to claim as Obama does that anyone who opposes it is in favor of discrimination against women.
So in summary, Romney's "war on women" is nothing more than a fiction invented by the Obama campaign to try to peel female votes away from Romney. On each of these issues, Romney's positions are not anti-woman at all, but are instead positions that are good for all Americans -- men and women alike.
I am not a woman, but I am blessed to have a number of wonderful women in my life, including a wife, a mother, a mother-in-law, and several sisters-in-law. And I can tell you for a fact that all of these women find it extremely insulting that the Obama Administration thinks that government-mandated birth control and government-funded abortion are the issues that women care about the most. As I noted in a post from last year
Of all the important choices that exist in this world and all the important rights that women have, it all boils down to one thing for the Obama crowd: abortion. Abortion for any reason, at any stage in the pregnancy, with no restrictions. They mean nothing more and nothing less than this when they talk about "choice" and "women's rights."
Democratic leaders and members of the media throw around the phrase "a woman's right to choose" as though abortion on demand is the number one priority for all women. In fact, a recent Gallup survey
found that over the past four years, an average of only 45% of all adult American women (and only 49% of women of child-bearing age) consider themselves to be "pro-choice" on the issue of abortion. So much for women thinking monolithically on this issue. And even many pro-choice women must consider other issues to be more important and relevant to them than taxpayer funding of abortion or mandates for religious employers to pay for contraception. I hope that American voters have enough sense to see through this cynical ploy by Obama to distract from the most pressing issues for all Americans -- jobs and economic growth, quality health care and education, entitlement reform, a sensible energy policy, and checks on federal spending and the growth of the deficit.