So just when you think you've heard it all -- meet Bob McDonnell, Republican candidate for governor in the state of Virginia. Turns out that Mr. McDonnell isn't your garden-variety anti-choice politician. He's a true believer -- railing against legalized birth control, public schools, childcare and, believe it, working women! His thesis at Pat Robertson's Regent University is just now seeing the light of day thanks to the Washington Post, and it outlines his views pretty clearly about those of us whom he believes are responsible for the demise of the American family, rising promiscuity and basically the breakdown of society.
It turns out that Mr. McDonnell takes issue with the U.S. Supreme Court decision back in 1972, Eisenstadt v. Baird, which established the legal right of unmarried people to use contraception in America. Apparently, he believes that legalized birth control leads to all kinds of problems, which then leads to the breakdown of the traditional family unit where Dad worked and Mom stayed home with Dick and Jane and Puff and Spot. In his treatise, Mr. McDonnell opines that working women and "feminists" are the problem -- "materialistic" people who have made choices the government now has to support, who have broken their "perceived stereotypical bonds and seek workplace equality." He rails against child-care programs that subsidize and encourage women to work, and says that the participation of women in the work force is a symptom of the breakdown of society. It is hard to believe that a politician can possibly get elected with such a primitive view of a woman's role in the family and in society.
Lest you think he was a young, impressionable student-type when he held these views, not so. He wrote this manifesto at age 34, already a married father of two. But Bob McConnell is not only a man of words: he is a man of action. In the two decades that McDonnell has been in office, he has sponsored or co-sponsored more than 35 anti-choice pieces of legislation -- in fact, his primary focus in elective office has been to restrict women's access to reproductive health care. "Working women" have gotten little or no help from him as well, since McDonnell voted against ending wage discrimination between men and women.
While this thinking is pretty frightening, most frightening is that Bob McDonnell is now leading in the Virginia polls. Like other extreme-right candidates, Bob McDonnell is working hard to distance himself from his voting record, public statements and actions, and now, his dissertation at Regent.
Polls indicate that Virginia women can and likely will make the difference in this election and their votes are very much up for grabs. Senator Creigh Deeds, 100 percent pro-women's health and 100 percent pro-working women, is gaining ground. Despite Bob McDonnell's predictions, working women have not been responsible for the demise of American society, but women may very well be responsible for the end of McDonnell's political career.
*Cecile Richards is president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.