By Kevin Joseph Ryan
Nobody likes men who hit women, certainly not me.
The Democrats nationwide are counting on this fact to get elected in the fall. At least, they are counting on Americans believing that Republicans are hitting women where it hurts, in their reproductive rights. While the left has so far failed to show that any Republican is trying to challenge women’s rights, they certainly seem to be making strides in creating the fear in the minds of some. Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin does not want to let this opportunity to terrorize women go to waste as he struggles for re-election himself.
The past two weeks, a great deal of news coverage has been given to comments made by radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who
himself was reporting on the testimony of activist Sandra Fluke at a press conference organized by Congressional House Democrats.
Governor Shumlin entered this controversy last week with the following response: “I found Rush Limbaugh’s recent attack on a young woman who articulated her support for President Obama’s contraceptives policy to be vile and reprehensible. It is almost beyond belief that we are still having a debate in this country about the right of a woman to choose to use contraceptives, but given the right wing character of today’s national Republicans, nothing should be surprising.”
At his weekly press conference Wednesday, when asked about his statement, the Governor had this to say, “Let me first say, that I’m a little surprised, that as a nation, we are having a conversation that I thought happened when I was a little teeny kid, about whether women, in this country, should have access to contraception. I thought that happened a long time ago.” When it was pointed out that neither Limbaugh nor any Republican had suggested challenging access to contraception, Shumlin continued, “I heard what Limbaugh said, and I think the rest of America did, too. I personally applaud the advertisers who are pulling out of his show and if I were he, I would voluntarily get off the air.”
The Governor was then probed as to why he would step into this national issue. He noted “I think there is a time, when everyone, every leader in the free world, should stand up for women and their rights when they’re being trampled on and as I said, I’m shocked that were having this conversation as a nation at a time when Vermonters and Americans care more about job creation and economic security….” When asked if the folks bringing up this issue of contraception was the Democrats rather than the Republicans, Shumlin added, “I think we all know where it came from”. It may be correct that Shumlin knows where this is coming from, but a closer look reveals the truth is closer to the Left working very hard to put words in Republican’s mouths.
The theme of a “War on Women” by Republicans has been brought up repeatedly by Democrat politicians and media pundits recently. However, when David Gregory of Meet the Press asked former House Speaker Newt Gingrich about his views on the subject, Gingrich told him, “Nobody is blocking anyone’s access to contraception. I am astonished at the desperation of the elite media to avoid rising gas prices, to avoid the president’s apology to religious fanatics in Afghanistan, to avoid a trillion dollar deficit, to avoid the longest period of unemployment since the great depression….”
Other Republican presidential contenders have been asked to address contraceptive access as well, but neither have they brought it up themselves. During a January 7th Presidential debate, George Stephanopoulos asked former Mass. Governor Mitt Romney, “do you believe that states have the right to ban contraception?” Romney said plainly, “George, this is an unusual topic that you’re raising… I would totally and completely oppose any effort to ban contraception. So you’re asking, given the fact that there’s no state that wants to do so, and I don’t know of any candidate that wants to do so….” Meanwhile, Rick Santorum pointed out that he felt the Griswold Vs. Connecticut Supreme Court decision allowing contraceptives constituted judicial activism, he has also denied any desire to bar women from accessing such items.
Under this “War on Women” narrative, Republicans are misogynistic and hateful towards women, which the Left says can be demonstrated by efforts to require certain types of medical tests prior to abortion services, cutting budgets on grants to family planning organizations, and now resisting efforts to violate the separation of church and state by forcing church organizations to provide birth control, whether they want to or not. Such a discussion would be beneficial to Democrats, at least according to progressive pollster Celinda Lake, who in a recent report stated that inclusion of contraception in insurance plans was popular with voters. Lake was in Vermont as recently as last April, where she spoke to a training seminar for Democratic Party candidates, and was introduced by Liz Bankowski, a Shumlin staffer. Bankowski described Lake as “our collective scout, who creates a map for us.”
In August of 2011, the Obama Administration issued mandates through the Department of Health and Human Services, which force all insurers, including religious institutions, to provide, at no cost, contraceptives and even the “morning-after” abortion pill. It is widely known that many religions, including the Catholic Church, have deep seated moral objections to the use of contraceptives and the Council of Catholic Bishops issued a statement objecting to this mandate as a violation of their religious freedom. Shortly thereafter, the Democrat theme of the “War on Women” began.
It becomes clear, in view of the evidence, that on a national level, Republicans have no interest in denying women their reproductive rights, while Democrats do indeed have a interest in promoting that idea, rather than focus on the poor economic landscape created by Obama era policies. Mostly recently, the February Sandra Fluke staged event, demonstrates this most clearly. Here in Vermont, Governor Peter Shumlin, who won election with only 49.7 % of the vote in 2010, needs to make sure he takes advantage of every crisis to beat Randy Brock, his Republican opponent, in this year’s race, even if that means making up fearful scenarios for the women of Vermont. If last Wednesday’s press conference is any indication, Shumlin intends to do exactly that.