GOP ramps up the culture wars, but not jobs

Carla Axtman

Now I didn't vote for Republicans in the last election, but a bunch of other people did. Somehow, I don't think most of those folks were clamoring for this crap:

Julian Pecquet, The Hill:

House Republicans on Thursday introduced two bills that seek to prohibit taxpayer funding of abortions, the opening salvo in what's sure to become a bitter political dispute.

"A ban on taxpayer funding of abortion is the will of the people," House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said at a press conference, "and it ought to be the [law] of the land."

Anti-abortion groups immediately praised the legislation, while Planned Parenthood said it would penalize people with healthcare plans that cover abortions by taking away their tax deduction.

The other bill would allow hospitals and health care systems to opt out of performing abortions, even if the life of the mother is at risk.


This is clearly a high priority item for the GOP. Pete Kasperowicz, The Hill's Floor Action blog:

The Republican majority has control of bills numbered 1 through 10, and as of this week had filled four of those slots. H.R. 2, of course, is the healthcare repeal bill, which was approved on Wednesday.

In the middle of this week, Republicans introduced H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. That bill is sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and boasts 161 cosponsors. The bill has been referred to House Committees on Judiciary, Energy & Commerce, and Ways & Means, but these committees have not yet announced any hearings or markups on the bill.

The smaller number bills generally signal the higher priorities for the chamber. For example, House Resolution 1 for last cycle's Democratic House majority was the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (or the stimulus bill).

So far, nothing having to do with job creation. Zilch. Zero. Nada. But at least they're going to try to make it so that low and middle income women will be desperate enough to get an abortion from people like Kermit Gosnell.

As I wrote last week, the bulk of Oregon's House delegation isn't brooking this BS.

Fortunately, neither are our US Senators. I contacted both offices last week, to get their statements on what the House GOP is up to.

Senator Merkley:

"Instead of focusing on creating jobs for out-of-work Americans, House Republicans have set their sights on taking away a woman's right to choose. The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act will severely restrict women's access to critical reproductive health services. Make no mistake about it -- their legislation is a direct attack on the rights of women everywhere.

"The last thing America needs is for lawmakers and the government to get between women and their doctors. The American people need Congress to focus on creating jobs and getting our economy back on track -- not trying to intrude into the personal lives of women and take away their rights."

Senator Wyden:

“Efforts to limit a woman’s right to choose by limiting her access to reproductive health services is both appalling and insulting, especially coming from those who say the government should never come between a patient and her doctor. I will use every legislative tool at my disposal to make sure that they never become law.”

When or if the time comes, I trust our Senators will be on the front lines of this battle. It's about time we move forward to restore taxpayer funding for abortion services, not restrict it further. Safe and legal access to early term abortions for all women is the only way to ensure that butchers like Kermit Gosnell remain out of business.

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    The even-nuttier aspect of this is that the Republicans are in charge largely as a result of the enthusiasm and energy of the Tea Party.

    But the Tea Party's activists are about financial issues - less spending, lower deficits. Most Tea Party folks, as I understand, explicitly excluded social issues.

    So, not only are GOP leaders not working on jobs - they're also not focused on the fiscal issues that energized their core supporters.

    I don't get it.

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    The GOP does this every time they are elected. They run this idiotic crap up the flagpole, get their base more excited than a 13 yr old boy with a Victoria's Secret catalog and accomplish.....NOTHING!

    Besides, they don't want abortion banned. How would they ever get their base to the polls then?

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    HR 358, The Protect Life Act which would allow hospitals to refuse abortion-inducing treatments when the mother's life at risk is particularly odious.

    Consider: A pregnant woman rushed from the site of an auto accident could be turned away if, after spending vital time on an examination, the ER doctor discovered that treating her would put her pregnancy at "unacceptable" risk. She'd be loaded back into the ambulance and driven to another facility... picture that in rural America where the nearest emergency facility could be an hour or more away.

    In other cases, cancer treatments could be denied. Appendectomies could be refused. It's not hard to think of examples.

    I hope that the news of this bill gets appropriate (wide and detailed) coverage across all media because it draws a sharp and easily communicated example of the extremes to which many members of the Republican majority will go to force women to give birth.

    I find it difficult to believe that moderate voters, women in particular, in swing districts across the country will find voting for advocates of this potential death sentence for pregnant women palatable.

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    "Now I didn't vote for Republicans in the last election, but a bunch of other people did. Somehow, I don't think most of those folks were clamoring for this crap:"

    Actually, I think a lot of them were clamoring for this crap. Their base and core supporters are quite religious and these issues are of immense importance to them. As I have stated before, far too many liberals underestimate the dire consequences of faith.

    I remember reading about exit polling in 2004. They were asking voters what party they trusted most with particular issues, i.e., the environment, the economy, the war etc. At that time, Democrats were winning on nearly every subject except the "social issues," i.e., the religious issues. Despite voters trusting Dems overwhelmingly on most issues, most voters were still voting for Bush.

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      "The base" isn't what wins elections, Joshua. It's the swing voters--and I highly doubt that's why they handed these jackals the keys.

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        I believe turn out of a party's base has just a little something to do with winning elections Carla.

        If you doubt that evangelicals and other religious conservative voters (that's most of em) don't care about these issues then maybe we live in different countries. Certainly swing voters don't care as much about these issues. but many do care about abortion, gay marriage etc. Many swing voters vote to ban gay marriage every year. I'm sure Republicans will focus more on swing voters come election time but now they are delivering what the bulk of their supporters want...a full throat attack on women's reproductive rights.

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    Both the base and and the swing matter--it all depends on how much you rely on one or the other.

    Public support for abortion is fairly nuanced. Unless the numbers have changed since the last time I looked at them, a majority is opposed to banning abortion altogether, but most are in favor of some restrictions. I can't recall items on government funding, but I strongly suspect this is a much mire widely held view than a fringe religious element,

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    Nov 2009 poll, do you want abortion services as part of health care reform 55% oppose, 28% in favor, 17% unsure


    May '0& self identified "pro life" 51% "pro choice" 42%. 45% of self described moderates call themselves pro life. Link

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      So then our job is to stop letting alleged "pro-life" outlets beat the drum and push back. Minds aren't changed by sitting on our hands and posting old polling data.

      The most basic rights of women are being assaulted--especially for low-income women. It's an absolute travesty. And its insulting, honestly, that you're making defacto excuses for it.

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        The job of protecting women's right also entails advocating for evidence-based ways of understanding the world and fighting against inherently oppressive faith-based ways of understanding the world.

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    Can we acknowledge that treating a living, breathing human being whose life is in danger is about as "pro-life" as it gets?

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    The dishonest gamesmanship of Republicans is hard to miss if one's eyes are open. It must be difficult to produce policy consistent with campaign promises when a party's rhetoric is based largely on fallacies and irrelevancies. Of course, Democrats play their own games. On foreign policy, trade agreements, civil liberties, and regulation, what we get from Democrats in Congress and the White House is a pale reflection of Democratic campaign positions. I do not judge this from the end result of compromise with Republicans, but from the bill language, amendments, and votes of Democratic lawmakers and the actions of the executive.

    So let's not [justifiably] denounce the GOP without looking at the Democratic Party's performance with equal rigor.

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    I love this post, Carla. It's right on the mark. Thank you!

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