Right-wing media are claiming that a Republican “war on women” is “phony” and “invented” by the left to distract attention from issues such as the economy and gas prices. But Republicans throughout the country have indeed pushed a plethora of legislation during the past few years that would result in limiting women’s reproductive rights, access to health care access, and access to equal pay; moreover, right-wing media themselves launched a bullying campaign against Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke after she testified in favor of expanded contraception coverage.
Right-Wing Media Claim GOP “War On Women” Is “Phony,” “Invented” By Democrats
Fox’s Ingraham: The “Phony War On Women” Is “Contrived” By Democrats. On the April 9 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, guest host Laura Ingraham claimed “the phony war on women” was “contrived” by Democrats. From The O’Reilly Factor:
INGRAHAM: The phony war on women. That is the subject of this evening’s Talking Points Memo. Keeping with the theme of suffering on Good Friday, the White House hosted and boasted a “women in the economy” conference. Now, this, of course, follows the relentless push by Democrats to gin up the contrived war on women election year narrative. [Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, 4/9/12]
Fox’s Doocy “Completely Agree[d]” With Ingraham That The “War On Women” Is “Phony.” On the April 10 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy hosted Ingraham and said he “completely agree[d]” with her claim on The O’Reilly Factor that the GOP’s “war on women” is “phony.” From Fox & Friends:
DOOCY: Hey, Laura, I watched you filling in for Bill [O’Reilly] last night. You started with the segment on the war on women, and you — I completely agree, it’s phony. You know, the Democrats are trying to portray the Republicans as waging a war on women, and you talked a little bit about how they didn’t, they weren’t — it’s just bogus. Made up by the Democrats and the mainstream media. But, you know, in the last week or so, the Muslim Brotherhood has been invited to the White House. And when you think about a war on women, you know, the people who follow sharia law, who has got a bigger war on women than the people who stone them? [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/10/12]
Doocy: Democrats “Have Invented This Phony War On Women” Because “The Stimulus Didn’t Work Out So Well.” On the April 9 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, Doocy claimed Democrats “invented this phony war on women” to get female voters to “vote for their candidates.” From Fox & Friends:
DOOCY: The economy not working for the president as a campaign issue — you know, the stimulus didn’t work out so well and he’s got a lot of problems — so in the last couple of months, what they have done, the Democrats, is they have invented this phony war on women. They said, Republicans are against women.There’s not really a war on women. There’s a war for women, because they would like to have as many women vote for their candidates. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/9/12, via Media Matters]
Michelle Malkin: “War On Women” Was “Contrived And Manufactured” By DemocratsTo “Distract From The Econom[y].” On the April 5 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, Doocy asked Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin whether the “war on women” was “invented to take people’s eyes off the prize, which is the economy.” Malkin agreed, claiming it “was contrived and manufactured from the get go.” From Fox & Friends:
DOOCY: Wouldn’t you say though, Michelle, the whole war on women really was invented to take people’s eyes off of the prize, which is the economy and gas prices, and when you look at those things, the president — not doing so well.
MALKIN: Yes. That’s absolutely right, Steve. It was contrived and manufactured from the get go. We know that from [Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke’s] past political history. And as is the case with Obama and his Chicago team, it is always about the distraction. And I think the GOP, before that kerfuffle happened, of course, had been gaining a lot of ground and traction in trying to zero back in on jobs and gas prices. And I think as we head into November, we’re going to see more and more of this ratcheting up of the politics of personal destruction and the demagoguery, whether it’s with women or race, anything to distract from the economies and the jobs death toll that this administration is responsible for.
GRETCHEN CARLSON (co-host): But also the distraction in that particular discussion was to try and reach out to women by the Obama administration instead of talking about what the issue really was, which was religious freedom. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/5/12, via Media Matters]
Fox’s Krauthammer: “The Media Have Collaborated In Inventing” A War On Women. During the April 6 edition of Fox News’ Special Report, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer said:
KRAUTHAMMER: The idea is because there was some objection on religious liberty grounds to force Catholic institutions to dispense them for free, it’s a war on women. The idea of the meme was they want to deny access to contraception, as if Republicans want to shut the door of American pharmacies for any woman looking for contraception. So the media have collaborated in inventing an issue. Obama sees an opening. He actually said women aren’t interest group. Of course they are in the eyes of the administration, and that’s why it’s holding a conference. [Fox News, Special Report 4/5/12, transcript via Nexis]
CNN’s Erickson: “The Left Will Surely Drag Augusta National Into Its ‘War On Women’ Mythology.” In an April 6 post to his website RedState, CNN contributor Erick Erickson wrote of the all-male golf club Augusta National, “The left will surely drag Augusta National into its ‘War on Women’ mythology. I hope, however, that yet again Augusta National keeps its head up.” [Red State, 4/6/12]
Fox’s Palin: GOP’s War On Women A “Straw-Man/Straw-Woman” Created By The “Mainstream Media.” During the April 3 broadcast of Fox News’ Hannity, Fox News contributor Sarah Palin spoke with host Sean Hannity about exit poll results from the Wisconsin GOP primary and said:
PALIN: Did they say anything about the women’s vote tonight? Because, of course, many in mainstream media, they’re trying to make an issue out of this straw-man/straw-woman, this war on women that supposedly the GOP is waging, and making a big darn deal about that. And I wonder if the poll numbers are reflecting that.
HANNITY: We don’t have the final polling on it, but he was leading if you look at, you know, among just about every category [Fox News, Hannity, 4/3/12]
Fox’s Crowley: “Obama’s Re-Election Team … Orchestrated The Whole Bogus War On Women Thing.” During the April 3 broadcast of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, Fox News contributor Monica Crowley claimed that “the Obama re-election team, the left, sort of orchestrated this whole bogus war on women thing.” [Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, 4/3/12]
NRO’s Lopez: The “War On Women” Is A Democratic “Desperation Campaign.” In an April 2 National Review Online article, editor-at-large Kathryn Jean Lopez called the “war on women” a “desperation campaign” by Democrats who “lost women in 2010” and “want them back.” From National Review Online:
“We’re never going to let this happen again,” Ms. magazine editor Kathy Spillar proclaimed, underscoring the real purpose of the “war on women” desperation campaign. Democrats lost women in 2010, and they want them back. And they will scare women — even constructing threats that don’t actually exist — if they have to. Their strategy is insulting to women who don’t share their hostility toward the Catholic Church and other religious groups that have tried to be led not into the temptations of our secularist age. Even New York Times polling suggests that voters are paying more attention to the details behind the incendiary, misleading rhetoric that the White House and its allies insist on. When people are specifically asked if individuals and institutions with moral objections should be able to be free of government contraception coercion, freedom wins.
Limbaugh: “Obama’s Got Trouble With His Base. That’s What This Nonexistent But Alleged Republican War On Women Is All About.” During the March 26 broadcast of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Rush Limbaugh Show, host Rush Limbaugh claimed:
LIMBAUGH: Obama’s got trouble with his base. That’s what this nonexistent but alleged Republican war on women is all about. Obama is not doing well with the female vote, and he is trying to improve his circumstances there. And throughout polling data, his base is not that firm because they’re not happy with the slow speed with which they thought they were going to get a new kitchen, or a new car, at least have a job.[Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 3/26/12]
But Republicans Throughout The Country Have Pushed Legislation That Would Restrict Women’s Reproductive Rights And Access To Health Care, Equal Pay
In May 2011, House GOP Passed Bill That Would Ban D.C. Reproductive Funding. In May 2011, House Republicans unanimously passed the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which created a “ban on the District [of Columbia] using its own money to fund abortions for low-income women.” From The Washington Post:
The House approved a bill Wednesday that would make permanent a ban on the District using its own money to fund abortions for low-income women, dealing D.C. another setback in its quest to retain control over its finances.
The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act cleared the House on a 251-175 vote, with 16 Democrats joining all 235 Republicans present to support it. The bill would tighten laws designed to prevent federally-funded abortions across the country, and would enshrine the District ban into federal law. The spending resolution signed by President Obama last month contains a similar restriction on D.C., but it only lasts through Sept. 30. [The Washington Post, 5/4/11]
“No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion” Bill Originally Included Language Restricting The Definition Of Rape. The original version of the No Taxpayer For Abortion Act included language amended from the Hyde Amendment, which limited federal funding for abortion to cases of rape, incest, and when the mother’s life is in danger. The law would have removed all exceptions other than “forcible” rape. A January 28, 2011, Mother Jones article pointed out that this would have “rule[d] out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases.” From Mother Jones:
For years, federal laws restricting the use of government funds to pay for abortions have included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. (Another exemption covers pregnancies that could endanger the life of the woman.) But the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” a bill with 173 mostly Republican co-sponsors that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has dubbed a top priority in the new Congress, contains a provision that would rewrite the rules to limit drastically the definition of rape and incest in these cases.
With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to “forcible rape.” This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible. For example: If a 13-year-old girl is impregnated by a 24-year-old adult, she would no longer qualify to have Medicaid pay for an abortion. (Smith’s spokesman did not respond to a call and an email requesting comment.) [Mother Jones, 1/28/11]
Virginia GOP Passed Measure To Require “Invasive” Vaginal Ultrasound Before Abortions. In February, Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates introduced a bill that would have required women in the early stages of pregnancy to undergo an “invasive” transvaginal ultrasound before an abortion. Following public pressure, [t]he House of Delegates passed a modified version of the bill that still requires a medically unnecessary ultrasound. From Mother Jones:
Virginia’s controversial mandatory ultrasound bill is now headed to Gov. Bob McDonnell’s desk. While the final version of the bill allows women to opt out of having an invasive transvaginal ultrasound — the provision that drew a national spotlight in the last couple weeks — don’t be fooled: It’s still a burdensome law.
The original bill would have required women seeking an abortion to undergo whatever kind of ultrasound gets the best image of the embryo or fetus. In the early stages of pregnancy — when the vast majority of abortions occur — that’s typically a transvaginal ultrasound, which is far more invasive than the abdominal kind (think jelly-on-the-belly). That requirement was scrapped at the eleventh hour, after a deluge of national attention. Abortion rights activists said mandating such an invasive procedure amounted to “state-sanctioned rape,” a comparison that clearly struck a nerve: Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show took cracks at the bill; more than a thousand women gathered in silent protest outside the state capitol. Eventually, McDonnell backtracked on his initial support, stating last week, “No person should be directed to undergo an invasive procedure by the state, without their consent, as a precondition to another medical procedure.” [Mother Jones, 3/3/12]
Pennsylvania GOP Proposed “Invasive” Ultrasound Bill. In February, Republicans in the Pennsylvania State House introduced legislation requiring that “medical professionals say women would have to undergo an invasive, vaginal ultrasound.” From PennLive.com:
Under the bill in Pennsylvania, medical professionals say women would have to undergo an invasive, vaginal ultrasound. That prospect is drawing outrage among supporters of abortion rights.
The bill, proposed by Rep. Kathy Rapp, a conservative Republican from Warren County, outlines what women seeking an abortion would undergo in great detail.
The bill requires that the woman not only get an ultrasound, but that the ultrasound screen be in her line of sight. The woman can choose to look away, the legislation states, but the technician performing the ultrasound would have to note if the woman viewed the results.
The patient would also have to hear the results of the physician’s finding, sign a written report to give to the abortion provider, and receive a sealed copy of the ultrasound’s image.
On March 2, The New York Times noted that the State House majority leader canceled debate on the bill “follow[ing] a national uproar over a similar proposal in Virginia”:
The State House majority leader announced on Thursday that a bill requiring ultrasounds before abortions would not be considered soon. The shift followed a national uproar over a similar proposal in Virginia, which as originally worded would have forced women to have vaginal ultrasounds. The majority leader, Mike Turzai, a Republican, canceled a debate on a bill that critics said would require invasive procedures and interfere with doctor-patient relations. A spokesman, Stephen Miskin, said, “Until there is a consensus within the House and the medical community, it won’t be scheduled for a vote.” [PennLive.com, 2/29/12; The New York Times, 3/2/12]
Alabama GOP Attempted To Pass Transvaginal Ultrasound Bill. In February, Alabama GOP State Sen. Clay Scofield ended debate over a bill that would have required transvaginal ultrasounds before getting an abortion. From The Huffington Post:
Alabama state Sen. Clay Scofield (R) backed off a provision Monday that would have forced women to submit to transvaginal ultrasounds before getting an abortion. The move mirrors the fate of an ultrasound measure in Virginia, which was similarly scrapped in favor of one that mandated a less invasive procedure.
The change of course comes after state Sen. Linda Coleman (D) denounced the transvaginal ultrasound bill as nothing less than “a state-sanctioned rape bill,” arguing in a recent interview that beyond restricting access to safe abortion care, the bill amounts to an assault on women. [The Huffington Post, 2/28/12]
GOP Lawmakers In Idaho Introduced Transvaginal Ultrasound Bill. In February, GOP lawmakers on the Idaho Senate State Affairs Committee unanimously voted to introduce a bill that would have required “an invasive transvaginal ultrasound” procedure “before any Idaho woman could have an abortion.” From the Spokesman-Review:
Controversial anti-abortion legislation that caused a brouhaha before being withdrawn in Virginia was introduced in Idaho today, to require an ultrasound before any Idaho woman could have an abortion.
The issue is that at very early stages of pregnancy, before six to eight weeks gestation, a regular abdominal ultrasound doesn’t provide a clear picture of the fetus, requiring instead an invasive transvaginal ultrasound, a procedure that includes penetration of the patient with an ultrasound wand. Idaho Senate Assistant Majority Leader Chuck Winder, R-Meridian, said the original version of his bill specifically mentioned that procedure, but he removed it. [The Spokesman-Review, 2/27/12]
Georgia GOP Cuts Option For Abortion Services After 20 Weeks. In March, Georgia Republicans passed a bill that would have “cut by about six weeks the time women in Georgia may have an elective abortion.” According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the bill “would tighten medical exemptions for terminating pregnancies and require any abortion performed after 20 weeks of pregnancy be done in a way to bring the fetus out alive. No exemption is made for rape or incest”:
As originally written by its sponsor, state Rep. Doug McKillip, R-Athens, the proposal would have cut by about six weeks the time women in Georgia may have an elective abortion. The Senate’s changes forced into the bill an exemption for “medically futile” pregnancies, giving doctors the option to perform an abortion past 20 weeks when a fetus has congenital or chromosomal defects.
Although the House — including McKillip and House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge — initially balked, they agreed Thursday to move forward with a compromise. It was to include a definition in the bill describing what “medically futile” means: Profound and “irremediable” anomalies that would be “incompatible with sustaining life after birth.”
Commonly referred to as a “fetal pain” bill, House Bill 954 would tighten medical exemptions for terminating pregnancies and require any abortion performed after 20 weeks of pregnancy be done in a way to bring the fetus out alive. No exemption is made for rape or incest. The measure says that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks, therefore the state has an interest in protecting it. [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 3/29/12]
Arizona GOP Promoting Law That Restricts Abortion To 20 Weeks And Requires Ultrasound. The Republican-led state legislature in Arizona is promoting a bill that would ban “most abortions performed after 20 weeks of pregnancy.” From Reuters:
A controversial Arizona bill that bans most abortions performed after 20 weeks of pregnancy moved closer to becoming law on Wednesday in the Republican-controlled state legislature after clearing the state Senate.
The bill, which would still allow abortions after 20 weeks in the case of medical emergency, was passed by a mostly party-line 20-to-10 vote in the Senate on Tuesday. Only a small number of abortions are performed in Arizona after 20 weeks.
The Arizona bill would also require women to have an ultrasound at least 24 hours prior to having an abortion, instead of the one hour that is currently mandated under state law.
In addition, the bill would require that the state create a website that details the risks of the procedure and shows pictures of the fetus in various stages. [Reuters, 3/28/12]
In 2011, Center For Reproductive Rights “Monitored Over 600 Anti-Choice Bills That Would Undermine Women’s Autonomy And Fundamental Rights To Health And Well-Being” At The State Level. From the Center for Reproductive Rights’ 2010-11 annual report:
The Center is hard-pressed to cite a time in the last twenty years that can rival — in volume and in severity — this most recent period of anti-woman, anti-child, and anti-health legislative action in the United States.
In 2011, the Center’s State Program has monitored over 600 anti-choice bills that would undermine women’s autonomy and fundamental rights to health and well-being. It’s clear: Women and their fundamental rights to health and decision-making are being attacked. [Center for Reproductive Rights annual report, 2010-11]