In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court established a woman’s legal right to an abortion. But since this landmark decision in 1973, state legislatures have implemented an onslaught of abortion restrictions. These restrictions have been so successful, so strategically designed and so well coordinated that Roe v. Wade has basically been overturned. Today, most abortions involve some combination of endless wait, interminable journey, military-level coordination and lots of money. Roe v. Wade was supposed to put an end to women crossing state lines for their abortions, the very thing that thousands of pregnant women are forced to do now. The big question is this: why do so many Republicans hate women?
Republicans will deny “hating women” because they do not believe that discrimination is a form of hate. During the Reagan era of the 1980s, Republicans took up “family values” as a party platform, which is code for bigotry. This revamped the dated ideas that women are biologically inferior leaders and intellectuals. As the “pro-life” movement has merged with the political right, it has helped move the whole political discussion far to the right on a wide range of issues related to sex, women, poverty, race, health care and the role of government. Methodical and coordinated attacks on Planned Parenthood are one piece of a larger, ongoing Republican war against women.
Women working full-time in the U.S. earn an average of 77 cents for every dollar men earn, according to the Census Bureau. A portion of that gap, economists say, is due to employers paying women less than men for the same work. The Paycheck Fairness Act looked to impose harsher penalties for pay discrimination and to require employers to be able to show that wage gaps between men and women are based on factors other than gender. Senate Democrats have brought the bill to the floor four times between 2011 and 2014, and each time Republicans have rejected it. During the last vote in 2014, not a single Republican voted for the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Another example of the GOP’s war on women is exposed in the party’s adamant attacks on the Affordable Care Act. Before the Act passed, women paid $1 billion more per year than men for identical insurance plans. Obamacare also marked the first time health insurance was required to cover birth control, maternity leave and cancer screenings for women. The ACA was passed more than five years ago and has been ruled constitutional twice, and the Republican party still fights it to this day.
Earlier this year, The Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion organization, released a number of graphic videos that had been secretly recorded by actors hired by CMP. In the videos, the actors — who were posing as representatives of a fake biotechnology company — discussed acquiring tissues from aborted fetuses with officials for Planned Parenthood. The videos were found to be highly edited, and multiple state-sanctioned investigations found no evidence that Planned Parenthood clinics have illegally handled tissues as alleged by CMP and Planned Parenthood’s adversaries. But the videos attracted widespread media coverage and caused widespread protests, re-invigorating the long-running political debate over abortion. Republicans even threatened to shut down the government over issues of federal funds to Planned Parenthood.
In every corner of America, years of unrelenting Republican assaults on women’s reproductive rights have transformed all facets of giving an abortion or getting one. While the GOP has introduced thousands of anti-abortion bills, the party has rarely passed anti-rape legislation. And it’s not just Republicans in Congress: over the last five years, Republican state legislatures have passed more than 300 new restrictions on abortion access. Abortion clinics are closing down at a rate of 1.5 every single week. This is why Planned Parenthood is so crucial. More than half of all Planned Parenthood facilities are located in areas without ready access to health care. Only three percent of patients visit Planned Parenthood for a safe and legal abortion. Those abortions are not paid for with federal funds unless it is a case of rape, incest or life endangerment. Republican attempts to defund Planned Parenthood are not a spontaneous reaction to a series of doctored videos. To quote Senator Elizabeth Warren: “It is another piece of a deliberate and orchestrated right-wing attack on women’s rights.