Last week, Virginia state Sen. Steve Martin (R) referred to pregnant women as "hosts," in what he claimed was a reaction to a Valentine's Day card from the Virginia Pro-Choice Coalition encouraging its recipient to protect reproductive health options "including preventing unwanted pregnancies."
Martin found that concept ridiculous, writing on his Facebook wall that while he doesn't oppose contraception, "once a child does exist in your womb, I'm not going to assume a right to kill it just because the child's host (some refer to them as mothers) doesn't want it." He has since claimed the "host" language was sarcasm, and that he "obviously" considers "pregnant women to be mothers."
But you could be forgiven for thinking Martin was serious about his suggestion that women are simply subhuman automatons that make babies. There's apparently a lot of confusion in the GOP on the subject of procreation and womanhood -- namely, how does one define these strange life-giving creatures who walk among us? What are they, exactly? Here are some Republicans trying (and failing) to answer that question.
Are they "abortion machines?"
In a 2013 rant about Democrats, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh called women "nothing but abortion machines." That is, of course, the fault of the Democratic Party, whose crazy views degrade women, while the Republican party is too poor to do anything about it.
Look at what they [Democrats] are doing to women with their policies: They’re demeaning them, they’re turning them into nothing but abortion machines. There's so much that we could be doing to just fight back, but the Republican Party, even if they had all the money in the world right now, doesn’t seem inclined to do any of this.
Perhaps women are "calves" and "pigs?"
Georgia state Rep. Terry England (R) spoke in favor of a bill in 2012 that would make it illegal for women to have an abortion after 20 weeks, even if the fetus would be stillborn. He recalled his days as a farm hand in his testimony:
Life gives us many experiences…I’ve had the experience of delivering calves, dead and alive. Delivering pigs, dead or alive. It breaks our hearts to see those animals not make it.
Women, cows, pigs -- they're all the same if you squint really, really hard.
No? Let's try "vaginas."
New Hampshire state Rep. Peter Hansen (R) referred to women simply as "vaginas" in a 2013 email to colleagues. Using the official legislative distribution list, he wrote, to his party's disdain:
What could possibly be missing from those factual tales of successful retreat in VT, Germany, and the bowels of Amsterdam? Why children and vagina's [sic] of course. While the tales relate the actions of a solitary male the outcome cannot relate to similar situations where children and women and mothers are the potential victims.
Still no dice, hm ... How about "semen receptacles"?
Limbaugh cemented his position as a poet and wordsmith in 2013 when he coined this gem of a phrase during another rant -- this time about single mothers. In light of the Virginia gubernatorial race between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli, Limbaugh described his feelings on women voters raising children alone.
She's owed a living because life has dealt her so much unkindness. They saddled her with a kid. She's a single mother. Probably the husband walked out on her, or she kicked him out. Something happened. But she's owed something, in her mind, and here comes McAuliffe identifying with her. McAuliffe said, "Look, if you want to be a receptacle for male semen and not pay a price, I'm your guy."
Or "witches and hags."
After a 2013 rally in Bellevue, Wash., in which almost 40 women were arrested for refusing to leave the state's GOP headquarters, former state GOP Chair Kirby Wilbur expressed his feelings on the protesters.
iI missed all the fun at State HQ today as the left wing witches and hags protested and got arrested. They look so old and ugly...#wagop
— Kirby Wilbur (@KirbyWilbur) November 8, 2013
Ok, apparently none of those are right. But that doesn't mean Republican men don't get women. You see, they're just like cancer patients.
You know, because they want control over their bodies! At least that's what Ken Buck, Colorado district attorney and 2014 GOP Senate candidate, implied when he appeared on a local morning radio show to talk about Obamacare's birth control provisions. Buck explained:
Yes, I am pro-life. While I understand a woman wants to be in control of her body — it’s certainly the feeling that I had when I was a cancer patient, I wanted to be in control of the decisions that were made concerning my body — there is another fundamental issue at stake. And that’s the life of the unborn child.
In a 2012 interview with Bloomberg Television, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus equated the GOP's "war on women" then-dominating the news to a made-up war on bugs.
If the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars and every mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we’d have problems with caterpillars. It's a fiction.
Or a fried chicken special.
During a 2013 conference sponsored by the California GOP, a reporter snapped a picture of the buttons below that take a stab at possible presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Stay classy, guys.
— Carla Marinucci (@cmarinucci) October 6, 2013
Try again next time.
All photos via Getty.