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Caterpillars and Contraception: Why Gov. Nikki Haley is Wrong

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President Obama spoke this morning at a forum on women and the economy. In his speech, he said, "Women are not an interest group."

Indeed, we are not. We're the majority of the electorate, and, in large part, our votes will decide the outcome of the 2012 presidential race.

Judging by the president's speech this morning, it's clear that he gets this.

Judging by recent comments from prominent supporters of anti-choice former Gov. Mitt Romney, the likely Republican nominee, it's equally clear that they don't.

Take, for example, anti-choice South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. Earlier this week, she went on ABC's The View and made this bizarre claim:

Women don't care about contraception. They care about jobs and their families...

Not to be outdone, Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, completely dismissed the notion that anti-choice politicians in his party are waging a War on Women:

If the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars and every mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we'd have problems with caterpillars. It's a fiction.

Oh, I get it: blame the media.

This seems to be a recurring message from prominent anti-choice politicians.

"Trust us," they say. "We're only focused on jobs and the economy. Attacking women's health care never even crossed our minds."

Where have we heard this before?

Let's look back to the 2010 elections, when anti-choice politicians vowed to "be focused like a laser" on job growth. Some even called for a "truce" on issues like a woman's right to choose.

Then, what did they do after they took office?

Here are some very non-fictional attacks on women's health from the past 15 months:

  • The U.S. House of Representatives held more choice-related votes in 2011 than in any year since 2000.
  • The House voted to defund Planned Parenthood and eliminate the Title X family-planning program. And Mitt Romney has vowed to do both of these things should he ever reach the White House.
  • Anti-choice lawmakers pushed the Blunt amendment, which could have allowed employers and corporations to block their employees from getting insurance coverage of birth control. Every Republican senator but one voted for this measure—and Gov. Romney voiced his support for it.
  • They held a House committee hearing with an all-male panel attacking birth control.
  • At the state level, these politicians enacted twice as many anti-choice laws in 2011 as they did in the previous year.

To be fair to Gov. Haley and Mr. Priebus, the media did report on these actions because that's exactly what happened.

And despite the best efforts of Romney, Haley and Priebus, women are paying attention.

That's why a recent USA Today/Gallup poll shows President Obama opening up an enormous lead against Romney among women voters in 12 key swing states.

Now, perhaps Gov. Haley expects voters to ignore these attacks and truly trust Romney & Co. to focus "like a laser" on the economy.

To use Gov. Haley's own words, "We're so much smarter and broader than that."

Paid for by NARAL Pro-Choice America, www.ProChoiceAmerica.org, and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

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