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Where Are Moderate GOP Voices in Debate Over Abortion and Birth Control?

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So let me get this right. GOP lawmakers want to deny millions of women access to affordable birth control by eliminating federal funding of Planned Parenthood. And if any woman has an unplanned pregnancy, they hope to make it illegal for her to have an abortion, even if the pregnancy was a result of rape.

Remind me, what century are we living in? Because it looks to me as if the most vocal wing of the no-longer-party-of-Lincoln would like to boot women of child-bearing age out of jobs and back to home and hearth.

(You can't blame them, actually. Young women now outnumber young men in professional degree programs and are taking jobs that men would otherwise fill - in no small part because birth control methods are more diverse, reliable, accessible and affordable. The little woman may not have dinner on the table whenever her beloved wanders in after chugging a couple of beers at the bar with his buddies. Horror!)

U.S. Rep. Todd Akin's statement that abortion should be illegal - even if a woman is raped "legitimately," whatever that means - is but one of numerous, recent legislative attacks on women's reproductive rights. Just when you think the battle is winding down, another line of soldiers appears over the horizon.

Erin Gloria Ryan, a contributor to the feminist blog jezebel.com., decided to research the number of state laws "governing or related to" women's parts.

She told her editor it would take about a week. In fact, there were so many such laws that her search took almost a month.

Missouri, which Akin represents, is accumulating such laws, according to a recent article in The Kansas City Star. Missouri law already allows employers and employees to opt out of providing or receiving contraceptive coverage that violates their religious or moral beliefs. A bill pending in the state senate expands on that, allowing insurance companies to limit the availability of contraception even if employers and employees want it.

Perhaps the disappointing part of all this is that other than a few brave souls, reasonable Republicans aren't speaking out against such measures in Missouri or anywhere else. In fact, the GOP voted as a body this week to add a constitutional amendment outlawing abortions, without exceptions, to the party platform.

Three out of four adults think policymakers who are opposed to abortion should be strong supporters of contraception. Please tell me why, if someone thinks abortion is murder, he or she isn't standing on street corners around this country holding signs that display not dead fetuses, but addresses of the nearest health clinics providing birth control?

I was one of those determined young women of the late '60s and '70s who argued for birth control and easy access to abortions. Controlling one's reproductive system was much more difficult then. Abortion was legal in only a couple of states. Prescriptions for birth control were difficult to get, particularly if you were unmarried. Birth control methods themselves were few, expensive, and in the case of the Pill, could make you nauseous.

Also, popular opinion was not with you. If you were single and using birth control, you rarely talked about it lest you be considered a slut. If you got pregnant and wanted an abortion, you scrounged for money to get to New York or California, the only states where abortions were performed legally.

Today, abortion providers are easier to locate. A majority of Americans support birth control and think abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Even many Republicans who don't go that far, believe that women who are raped and become pregnant should be able to get abortions.

But the louder, shriller voices are more easily heard.

Jezebel blogger Ryan wrote, "Eventually a person gets to the point where they can no longer withstand the constant blitzkrieg of (bs)." Her limit of "rape outrage" has been reached, she said, and she is retreating.

"How much longer are we all going to have to stay angry, after our mothers spent their lives angry?" she asked.

As long as it takes, Erin. And we mothers will be right there with you.