I wrote Monday night about the emerging conservative war on women’s sexuality, and it looks like I was on to something. At Wednesday’s GOP debate in Arizona the Republican candidates for president competed to be the most vociferous in their opposition to reproductive health and freedom.
CNN’s John King read a viewer-submitted question about whether the candidates support birth control and why or why not. The audience immediately booed, because they hate when their candidates are forced to expose their extremism on social issues. In recent weeks all the Republican candidates have all volunteered their opposition to making contraception available, specifically with regard to the Obama administration’s requirement that employer provided health insurance cover it. But somehow asking about that is considered unfair. “You did not once in the 2008 campaign, not once did anybody in the elite media ask why Barack Obama voted in favor of legalizing infanticide[when he was in the Illinois State Senate],” complained Gingrich. You’ll be shocked to know that Obama never actually voted for infanticide but rather for protecting doctors who complete abortions when the fetus shows “signs of life” from unfair prosecutions.
But we already knew Gingrich was prone to cheap demagoguery; Gingrich makes a hypocritical attack on “elites,” the media or the “elite media,” in every debate. What we don’t get to see as often is just how inhumane the Republican candidates all are on women’s health.
King noted that Gingrich and Rick Santorum have criticized Mitt Romney for having signed a law requiring hospitals, even Catholic ones, to provide emergency contraception to rape victims when he was governor of Massachusetts. If Romney were a decent person, this would be an easy question to answer. He would say, “Of course any institution in our society that purports to care for the sick must provide contraception to rape victims.” But Romney isn’t running for decent person, he’s running to be the Republican nominee for president.
And so Romney defensively insisted he would never have dared tell anyone to provide contraception to a rape victim. “There was no requirement in Massachusetts for the Catholic Church to provide morning-after pills to rape victims. That was entirely voluntary on their report. There was no such requirement.”
Think a little bit about what this means: a woman who is violently raped and has no control of which hospital she is taken to, or who lives near only a Catholic hospital, will be forced to carry her rapist’s fetus.
The even greater irony, of course, is that this woman who does not want to be forced to carry her rapists’ fetus will end up getting an actual abortion, not using the morning after pill, which Gingrich falsely characterized at the debate as a kind of abortion.
Santorum and Gingrich were not in the least bit embarrassed to have been referenced opposing contraception for rape victims. Indeed, they pressed the point. “The reports we got were quite clear that the public health department was prepared to give a waiver to Catholic hospitals about a morning-after abortion pill, and that the governor’s office issued explicit instructions saying that they believed it wasn’t possible under Massachusetts law to give them that waiver,” said Gingrich.