With the 2012 presidential election six months away, many people are crying foul on the GOPs stance on women's rights. Should this be a genuine concern for women in America? Or is this a political strategy to win female votes on either side of the aisle?
Abortion, Planned Parenthood funding, and equal pay for women in the work force are just a few issues that have come center stage in the debate concerning women. The catalyst was Rush Limbaugh's comments in February about Georgetown University Law Center student Sandra Fluke who appeared before House Democrats explaining the need for mandating insurance coverage for contraceptives. Limbaugh did offer an apology, but the genie was out of the bottle. Many conservatives came out to support Limbaugh, while many found his words offensive and unnecessary.
One agency the GOP has their sights on is Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood is a non-profit agency that provides gynecologic services which include birth control, screening for breast, cervical and testicular cancers; pregnancy testing and pregnancy options counseling; testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases; sex education, menopause treatments; vasectomies, tubal ligations, and abortion.
Mitt Romney has vowed to get rid of Planned Parenthood. "Planned Parenthood, we're going to get rid of that." This would be devastating to poor and middle class women who depend on Planned Parenthood for their reproductive needs such as cancer screenings, preventative care, and birth control.
The sticking point for the GOP is abortion. Any association with abortion overshadows all the other services Planned Parenthood provides. "Getting rid" of an agency that provides poor women access to birth control could potentially back-fire on the GOP in the long term by a population explosion down the road. Setting aside abortion and birth control, Planned Parenthood provides valuable services that women would have no access to if Romney is elected.
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law a bill prohibiting tax money from funding non-abortion services by Planned Parenthood, and many other GOP controlled states are following suit. Texas attempted the same route, but U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel issued an injunction stopping Texas's defunding until he can schedule a trial and hear arguments on the issue.
Here are other issues effecting women around the country, to name a few:
Wisconsin Senator (R) Glenn Grothman recently sponsored legislation that repealed the state's 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act, which paved the way for victims of wage discrimination to have their day in court. According to Grothman, "You could argue that money is more important for men. Women were often more focused on raising children than earning money." Governor Scott Walker signed the bill into law in April.
Grothman also proposed a bill that would declare single moms a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.
Maryland Republicans ended all county funds for a low-income kids' preschool program, because, they reasoned, women should be home with the kids, not out working.
According to a Pew Research poll, Obama leads by 20% with women voters. In 2008, 43% of women supported John McCain, where only 30% support Romney. This is a huge gap for Romney. Is Romney pandering too much to the far right who support the Scott Walker and Glenn Grothman measures concerning women? Or are women who support Romney waiting to show up en masse in November? Either way, the GOP needs to find a way to attract women who are more centrist and not keen on setting the clock back to 1950.