If you believe the conventional wisdom, all presidential elections boil down to money. Do you have more than you did four years ago? Answer yes, the incumbent wins. Answer no, the other guy gets it. But this year is different. This November, as never before, we women will have to choose between our wallets and our wombs. This may not be the choice we wanted, but it's the choice we've got. For me, it's pretty easy. I've only got one womb. Money comes and goes.
Republicans are frantically trying to change the subject again. They thought they were safe for a while, that we had forgotten Rick Santorum's march against contraception and abortion, that we were suitably distracted from the nasty Republican primary battles. But this week they got nabbed. Republican Rep. and Senatorial candidate Todd Akin was caught on videotape opining that in cases of "legitimate rape" most women didn't get pregnant anyway because "their own bodies" presumably fight this outcome. Bottom line? No need to really worry about that pesky exception of allowing abortion in cases of rape because it isn't really necessary anyway. Oops. Off playbook. Abortion is back on page one, complete with a rare press conference by President Obama labeling the comments "offensive" and a statement issued by Romney that he utterly refutes the comments of Akin.
We really ought to be grateful for the recent tongue tripping. Why? Because we must face it: Today's national Republican establishment is obsessed with taking away all rights that women currently possess to abort any fetuses they carry. Republicans are obsessed with removing our choices about whether, when and with whom to reproduce, with inserting themselves into our medical examination rooms (literally, in some cases, via the transvaginal ultrasound) and with changing the laws to view women merely as a carrying vessel for a fetus, rather than an adult with rights of her own. We can no longer pretend that this is a social issue that real Republicans don't really bother with; that once in office, Mitt Romney will focus on money and nothing else. As an occasional Republican myself, I wish that were true. It's not. Romney's appointment of Paul Ryan as his running mate confirms the anti-choice agenda in big, bold, bright red colors.
Paul Ryan and Todd Akin are allies on the subject of abortion, both co-sponsoring the Personhood Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which would define life as beginning at conception. For a guy who proclaims to be all about states' rights, this is certainly an end run around them, and would upend thousands of individual state laws regulating infertility treatments, stem cell research grants, abortions, criminal conduct, car accidents involving a pregnant mother and countless more laws designed to find a balance between competing interests on this very complicated subject. If passed, this Amendment would criminalize any attempt to abort a fetus, regardless of the mother's life. Make no mistake on this -- Paul Ryan is as much a zealot on the issue of abortion as he is on the issue of trimming the budget.
This past June, a bill on flood insurance to ease the catastrophic consequences to thousands of Americans besieged by spring floods was held up because Republican Sen. Rand Paul attached the Personhood Amendment to the bill. The same thing happened earlier in the year to another unrelated bill. They won't be stopped unless we stop them. We need to send the Republicans a message, once and for all, to return to their real roots, as crusaders for fiscal sanity, environmental stewardship (yes, that too was once the Republican party) and social libertarianism. The only way they get the message is to lose.
On center stage during the Republican convention in Tampa, little overt reference will be given to these crucial issues that affect every woman at some point in her life. Look for the covert message to the party faithful. Rick Santorum will be speaking. Pro-choice Republicans have been drummed out of the party. Paul Ryan is the stand-in for number one.
The Republicans need us women, badly. In 2008, 70 million women voted. Only 60 million men did. Without the support of women in large numbers, Republicans know they simply can't win. They are counting on us to prioritize the money in our pocketbooks over the control over our bodies, and over the bodies of our daughters, friends and sisters. We will be bombarded with persuasive data that we should gamble our votes on Romney/Ryan to put more bread on our tables and more money in our savings accounts. We will be almost convinced because the Republicans are good at sticking to the script, and let's face it, we aren't exactly in economic boom times, despite the healthy stock market. No one wants to pay more taxes, and the Democrats are stuck in their own ideological rut, telling us that the answer to our problems is to put more money into more government agencies which give us more incomprehensible regulations that slow everybody down.
Every election seems to end up giving us the choice of the lesser of two evils.
The Democrats want your wallet. The Republicans want your womb. Which are you willing to give up?
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