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We Are Targets

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Increasingly over the last days I've heard it said, this time by reputable news outlets, that the Obama campaign was 'targeting women' with the implication that it was somehow a new found and sneaky strategy.

The reality is that women have been the 'targets' of both parties for the last four years -- the difference being that one party has been a friend to women; the other a fearsome enemy. And each has built a record of which every woman should be aware.

On the Republican side, while both the presidential candidate and his congressional allies say that the economy is their number one issue, in fact, the greatest number of bills that they have introduced and unanimously supported have been bills to restrict the reproductive rights of women -- from the odious personhood bill to their attempts to ban inclusion of contraception as a guaranteed covered part of women's insurance to their attempts to end funding for Planned Parenthood,which serves roughly 5,000,000 women with contraception and other basic health services. And that's only in Congress. In the Republican controlled statehouses, more than 1,000 anti-choice bills have been introduced and many passed -- each of which out-does the next in their attempt to impose government control on matters that should be the decision of a woman and her health care professional.

On the Republican side, we have a ticket headed by a man who says he would sign the personhood bill if it landed on its desk, and a vice presidential candidate who stated not two weeks ago that he would not only welcome a Supreme Court capable of overturning Roe v. Wade but would support Congressional Action to overturn it.

As to equal pay, while Romney may have been delivered "binders of women", his party clearly wanted to see them bound. When the Democrats, in fact, put forth a bill calling for equal pay for equal work, every member, yes EVERY MEMBER of the Republican delegation voted against it.. Perhaps they felt that getting pay equal to men would impede women's ability to get the flex time we need to cook dinner each night.

As for the Democratic record, it is one that women should think about. Obama's first signing was of the so-called Lily Ledbetter bill, which eliminated the term limit on suing an employer for wage discrimination. Even before that Obama, not needing anyone to send him a binder, appointed women to be Secretary of State, Head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Secretary of Health, Secretary of Labor and head of Homeland Security as well as head of the Domestic Policy Council and Special Advisor to the President (to name just a few). More important for the long term he, like Clinton before him, appointed women -- this time two of them -- as lifelong members of the Supreme Court.

And as for the everyday concerns of women out here -- those that concern our physical and economic well-being -- Obama and Pelosi and Reid included not only contraception but mammograms and other vital health screenings as fundamental, no-co-pay essentials in the American Health Care Act. Further, they wrote into the law that women could not be charged higher rates than men were for health insurance on the basis of our 'pre-existing condition' of being a woman. They defended the critical health care that Planned Parenthood provides for women (the vast majority being preventive health care services) in the face of Republican intransigence and threats to shut down the government.

On equal pay, which is no small matter as women still only earn 82 cents for each dollar a man makes, Obama and the Democrats introduced and fought for an equal pay bill -- only to be defeated by a unanimous no-vote by all congressional republicans who constitute the majority in the House of Representatives. In addition, the Democrats introduced and won the removal of banks from student loan programs and protected Pell grants, now being used by women, who are the majority of college students today. The Democrats have fought for and prevailed to keep critical supports for women from the earned income tax credit to the child care credits -- against republican attempts to cut these programs to maintain tax breaks for the very wealthiest among us

Targets we are; targets we have been. The difference is that for one party we are the target of needed support; for the other we are simply the targets.

Marilyn Katz is President of MK Communications a Chicago-based public issues strategy firm. Long a political advocate and activist Ms. Katz works for and writes about politics and issues of social justice. You can follow Ms. Katz or find other published essays at Half the Sky, her Tumblr site or on Twitter @mkatzchicago.