Chinese military strategist and philosopher Sun Tzu said, "All war is deception." In 2012, Republicans have gone him one better. They're denying the existence of a war while they're actively waging it.
The Republican War on Women. That's what Democrats call an onslaught of legislation in state capitals across the country and in Congress aimed at limiting women's health and family planning services, curtailing women's access to contraceptives and legal abortions, even restricting women's ability to fight employment discrimination.
"Not true!" yell Republicans. Totally bogus. There's no such thing as a war on women.
"Democrats are trying to scare women. American women fear President Obama's policies," says Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers, Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference.
The "war on women" is a "manufactured issue," says Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.
"It's a fiction," said RNC Chairman Reince Preibus, who then went off on some weird metaphor about wars on caterpillars.
That perspective was more fully explained by one of the Republican's more towering intellects, Steve Doocy of Fox News: "The stimulus didn't work out so well, he's (President Obama) got a lot of problems. So in the last couple of months, what they have done, the democrats, is they have invented this phony war on women."
They're lying. There is a very determined and well-coordinated war on women, and the most unassailable evidence is the facts.
• Data from the Guttmacher Institute, a research, policy analysis and public education organization, reveals that in just the first three months of 2012, legislators in 45 state capitals have already introduced 944 provisions to limit women's reproductive health and rights.
• In those 45 states, 75 measures restricting abortion rights directly or indirectly have been approved by at least one legislative chamber and nine have been approved by both and signed into law.
• In the past two years, 19 states have introduced bills modeled on Nebraska's law that bans abortion 20 weeks after fertilization and provides an exception only to save the woman's life or when there is "serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function."
• One of those states, Arizona, declares by law that pregnancy begins up to two weeks before conception --"from the first day of the last menstrual period of the pregnant woman." So in Arizona, at least, life can begin even before an egg is fertilized.
• A measure approved by the Oklahoma State Senate redefines "person" in the public health code as "all unborn children or the offspring of human beings from the moment of conception until birth."
• The Mississippi House passed a bill requiring women seeking an abortion to have an examination to determine if a fetal heartbeat is present. If it is, the woman must undergo counseling on "the statistical probability of bringing the unborn human individual to term."
• So far this year, legislators in Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island have introduced provisions to require women to undergo an ultrasound prior to an abortion. These states would join Texas and Virginia, which have already passed ultrasound requirements into law.
• Based on the principle that the most effective ways to reduce teen pregnancy and abortion is through ignorance, numerous bills forbid anything but abstinence education in public high schools or stipulate that certain "facts" must be taught, even if they are, in fact, not facts and have no medical or scientific basis.
• In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker just signed legislation repealing the state's comprehensive sex education law and establishing abstinence education requirements. He also signed legislation to restrict abortion rights in health care exchanges and require doctors to "investigate women" seeking the procedure to be sure they aren't being "coerced." And just for good measure, he signed a bill to nullify enforcement of the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay for Women Act.
• Several states have passed bills to severely restrict a women's access to contraception through her medical insurance plan by allowing contraceptives not to be covered if the employer or organization has any moral objection.
• Such a bill was considered on the floor of the U.S. Senate, and Republicans tried to argue that it was a matter of freedom of religion.
Nine hundred forty four bills in the first three months of this year alone. Nine hundred sixteen such bills introduced and considered in 2011, and hundreds in 2010. Never before on any matter has there been such a legislative offensive, such a coordinated drive to overrule the law of the land and force everyone to adhere to one set of religious beliefs.
Clearly, the Republican political agenda at the state level is dominated by the far right, whose top priorities have nothing at all to do with the economy or jobs.
Clearly, these folks believe that women lack the intelligence and moral compass to make the "best" decisions about their own bodies, their own health and their own lives. Women must therefore be guided in these matters by governments run by old white guys.
Clearly, elections have consequences.