Republicans have no shortage of pet hatreds:
- Liberals (by which they mean “communists”)
- “Uppity” women
- Business regulations
- Taxes (on the rich)
- Obama Care” (The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act)
- Banking regulations
- Protecting the environment
But there’s one group they can’t get enough of: Fetuses.
In 2011, the Kansas legislature, Republicans sponsored a sweeping anti-abortion bill that would:
- Levy a sales tax on women seeking abortions, including rape victims;
- Exempt doctors from malpractice suits if they withheld medical information to prevent an abortion;
- Take away tax credits for abortion providers;
- Remove tax deductions for the purchase of abortion-related insurance coverage; and
- Require women to hear the fetal heartbeat.
In Florida, despite Governor Rick Scott’s campaign promise to focus on job creation, the 2010-2011 session of the Florida legislature passed no job-creation bills. But it did pass five bills restricting abortion rights.
- Force women to undergo ultrasounds prior to having an abortion
- Prohibit private insurance coverage of abortion care in the new state health-insurance exchange
- Require young women to prove the medical necessity of their abortions before a judge in order to bypass parental permission
- Establish state-sanctioned license plates that funnel money to anti-choice “crisis pregnancy centers” and
- Starts the process of amending the state constitution to prohibit the government funding of abortion.
Florida Republicans filed a total of 18 anti-abortion bills during the 2010-2011 session, the third most in the country, according to the ACLU, and twice the number of anti-choice laws introduced last year in the state, according to NARAL Pro-Choice America.
In Congress, Republicans are sponsoring the Child Interstate Abortion Notifcation Act, which would make it illegal for anyone but a parent to accompany a young woman across state lines to seek an abortion–even if her parents are absent or abusive.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin state senator Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) said:
- “unwanted or mistimed” pregnancies are “the choice of the women”
- who should learn “that this is a mistake.”
Grothman recently introduced Senate Bill 507, which, if passed, would formally consider single parenthood a contributing factor to child abuse.
On March 8–International Women’s Day–U.S Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) marked the occasion by asking his Twitter followers to join him in celebrating National Agriculture Day.
Blunt had sponsored an amendment that would have allowed employers to refuse health care coverage of any kind for “moral reasons.”
It was voted down in the Senate on March 1.
Many Republicans are still trying to revive the Blunt amendment. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has promised to continue the fight in the House.
Republicans spent much of 2011 challenging women’s reproductive rights. At the state level:
- State legislators introduced more than 1,100 anti-abortion provisions and had enacted 135 of them by year’s end.
- Seven states either fully defunded or tried to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides basic health care, contraception, breast cancer and STD screenings to millions of low-income women each year.
At the Congressional level, Republicans
- Used attacks on abortion and Planned Parenthood funding to extort Democratic concessions during budget negotiations and threatened to shut down the government.
- Introduced mandatory ultrasound bills.
- Tried to narrow the definition of rape to include only “forcible rape.” Under this change, a woman who was coerced, drugged or otherwise incapacitated by a rapist, would not be legally counted as a rape victim.
- Republicans barred the District of Columbia from using its own locally raised funds to help low-income women pay for abortions.
During just the first two months of 2012:
- At the state level, Virginia Republicans introduced a bill whose original language required women to undergo an invasive trans-vaginal ultrasound procedure 24 hours before having an abortion.
- Following widespread outrage, a modified version of the bill–requiring women to receive trans-abdominal ultrasounds, was signed into law instead.
- With the connivance of House Republicans, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the nation’s largest breast cancer charity, tried to pull cancer-screening grants from Planned Parenthood because some of its clinics provide abortions. Upon huge public outcry, this decision was quickly reversed.
- The House Oversight Committee convened a hearing to deny contraceptive insurance coverage under the guise of “protecting religious liberty.” The Democrats’ one female witness, Sandra Fluke, a third-year Georgetown University law student, was forbidden to speak at it.
- Right-wing broadcaster Rush Limbaugh and Foster Friess–Rick Santorum’s chief financial backer–publicly equated birth control use to sexual promiscuity.
On July 24, House Republicans voted on a bill, centered on Washington, D.C., that would make abortion illegal after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
“We will stand for a commitment to protect little babies that have no other people to protect them,” shouted its author, Trent Franks (R-Ariz.). “By the grace of God, we’re going to do that!”
The bill was defeated on a vote of 220 to 154.