In the past two decades, I've often found myself asking, "Where are all the pro-choice Republican women?"
But today, despite her second place finish in the GOP primary for Congress in KS-04, I'm inspired by Jean Kurtis Schodorf's dedication to public service and record of defending women's reproductive health choices. And as always, I want to thank Schodorf for running for higher office, and encourage her to run again -- because we only lose when women don't run.
In her near decade of service as a State Senator and 12 years as a school board member, Schodorf has proven her commitment to both traditional Republican values and women's rights.
While pushing for fiscal responsibility and responsible governance, she simultaneously defended women in the Kansas Legislature by opposing legislation to limit women's access to comprehensive sexual healthcare. This past July, Schodorf received the Planned Parenthood Republicans for Choice Barry Goldwater Award for her efforts in supporting and protecting women's health.
Unfortunately, Schodorf has become a rarity in today's political climate. Since the GOP's platform turned extremely anti-choice in 1992, the number of Republican women candidates who support the entire spectrum of reproductive health choices (publicly) has dwindled drastically.
Before this, organizations like WCF were able to endorse Republicans and Democrats alike--and neither was more difficult to come by.
But as we know by today's divisive environment, defense of choice has become an almost absolutely unacceptable quality in a Republican candidate--as we saw last year with Dede Scozzafava in NY-23.
Schodorf should serve as a role model for all women public servants--but especially for those Republicans courageous enough to challenge the party's anti-choice tenets and stand up for women's rights.
Schodorf is also an inspiration for mothers serving in public office. A mother of three, Schodorf served on the Wichita School Board for 12 years and is now serving her third term in the Kansas State Senate--supporting women's reproductive health choices all the while. Now that's my kind of Mama Grizzly.
Women's health should not be a divisive issue in party politics. We need more candidates like Schodorf who are willing to make a difference by fighting for what is right, no matter what adversity they may face because of it. I commend Schodorf on being such a strong, persistent, and inspiring leader, and look forward to supporting her throughout the entirety of her public life.
I'll also continue to encourage more women--from both parties--to follow her example.