This “war” refers to a series of legislative and public actions that put the Republican Party at odds against women advocacy groups and Democratic lawmakers. The tone and political positioning of party leaders hit a fever pitch as candidates running for office faced public scrutiny in wake of their off-color comments.
Below is a sampling of examples from 2012:
January 2012 – The world’s leading breast cancer research group, Susan G Komen for a Cure, pulled its funding from Planned Parenthood because of ties to abortion and a congressional investigation (headed by Republican lawmaker Clifford Stearns, Sr.). Women advocacy groups, Democrats, and millions of supporters denounced Komen’s decision. As a result, over $400,000 in donations poured in to replace the loss of funding. By August 2012, CEO/founder Nancy Brinker and President Liz Thompson had stepped down in lieu of the controversy. According to a 2010 Planned Parenthood report, abortions represented 3% of total patient services (which does not incorporate costs). Their 2011 annual report is not available on their website.
February 2012 – Sandra Fluke, a then Georgetown law student turned Women’s Rights Activist, was targeted by conservative talk show host, Rush Limbaugh, for her stance on contraception. A key provision of Obama’s health care reform bill requires employers to offer contraception to all eligible female employees, thus creating uproar from numerous religious organizations. While an exemption was put into place to delay a decision surrounding certain religious bodies, it did not include Catholic hospitals, charities, or universities. Many of these organizations have mission statements that stand in direct conflict with the Obama provision. As a result, the Republicans held a male-only committee meeting to discuss the ramifications of the overall law, leading to even further outcry from its most staunch supporters.
March 2012 – Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell signed yet another controversial law into effect. The law mandates women to have an ultrasound prior to an abortion and requires that a copy of the fetal image be included in the patient’s record. The original bill required a much more intrusive ultrasound, but due to national protests had to be altered to provide a less invasive alternative. Many believe that this law knocked McDonnell off of Romney’s list of potential Vice President candidates. Iowa, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania all implemented similar laws later in the year.
August 2012 – Todd Akin, a Republican running for a U.S. Senate seat in Missouri, uttered the phrase, “legitimate rape”, suggesting that the female body has biological capabilities to prevent rape from occurring. Paul Ryan, the Republican Vice Presidential nominee, co-signed an anti-abortion bill with Akin. The bill restricted any government funding for abortions due to “forcible rape”, introducing a new definition of rape to the political lexicon. Ryan would later lose the general election.
October 2012 – In his campaign for a Senate seat in Indiana, Republican Richard Mourdock stated that rape was a message from God that backed his anti-abortion stance regardless of force or incest. Mourdock stood by his statement even in the face of public outcry. He too, would lose the general election.