I write this article from the platform of an Independent-registered voter, whose views on abortion are pretty flexible and relatively neutral. I'm unaffiliated with any of the parties running. Full disclosure: I am voting for Mitt Romney, I am a member of the Tea Party and I ideologically lean libertarian on domestic issues.
The sticky business started when Representative Todd Akin of Missouri's 2nd congressional district made a rather inflammatory remark:
"Well you know, people always want to try to make that as one of those things, well how do you, how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question. First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child."
This on its face should not indicate a war on women from a political party. Politicians on both sides say stupid things all the time and it's not necessarily indicative of the entire party. Especially when Todd Akin apologized and the comment was roundly rebuked by just about every member of the Republican Party, including but not limited to Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
In fact, Romney and Ryan's views have resulted in a backlash from Missouri conservatives, who resent the fact that they haven't endorsed Todd Akin.
If you can give them credit for one thing, the Democrats can definitely receive a sloppy pass and still run with it without a care in the world. Rather than leaving Todd Akin's gaffe at that, what we began to hear is that Paul Ryan supported a bill that would outlaw abortion even in the cases of rape, incest and the mother's health.
We're going to ignore that Paul Ryan stated at the first Vice Presidential Debate that he and Mitt Romney oppose abortion with the exception of rape, incest and the mother's health. It takes little more than looking at those bills to see why this is an outrageous claim is absurd.
H.R. 212: Sanctity Of Human Life Act
As always, it's advised that you read the bill for yourself and come to your own conclusion. Fortunately, in today's technology-based society, it's very easy to read the bills yourself. In doing so, you can see that the bill's summation is directly in lockstep with its stated purpose:
"To provide that human life shall be deemed to begin with fertilization."
Now, whether or not you agree with this, you absolutely cannot make the claim that this is an attempt to outlaw abortion in the case of rape, incest and the mother's health.
H.R. 3: No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act
As before, read the bill yourself and come to your own conclusion. The name of the bill, itself, is a dead giveaway of what the bill actually is. There's a world of difference between banning abortion and not funding abortion. Just because I'm not buying cigarettes for you doesn't mean that you're not allowed to smoke. Just because I'm not buying food for you doesn't mean you're not allowed to eat. Just because I'm not buying pornography for you doesn't mean... well, I think you get the point.
Lets look at the instances where it mentions rape, incest and the mother's health to determine whether or not it says this. There are only two sections where these subjects are mentioned.
‘Sec. 308. Treatment of abortions related to rape, incest, or preserving the life of the mother
- ‘The limitations established in sections 301, 302, and 303 shall not apply to an abortion--
- ‘(1) if the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest; or
‘(2) in the case where a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the woman in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.
- ‘(2) EXCEPTIONS- Paragraph (1) shall not apply to--
- ‘(A) an abortion--
- ‘(i) in the case of a pregnancy that is the result of an act of rape or incest, or
‘(ii) in the case where a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the woman in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy, and
So, there you have it. In the two instances where rape is mentioned in H.R. 3, they are mentioned as exceptions. Which means not only are they not outlawing abortion for rape, incest and the mother's health -- but they're okaying taxpayer funding for it.
That, in of itself, should put this entire argument to rest. Though, I don't foresee it doing so.
H.R. 358: Protect Life Act
We're going to look at this one the same way we looked at H.R. 3. The stated purpose of this bill is to "amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to modify special rules relating to coverage of abortion services under such Act."
- ‘(1) IN GENERAL- No funds authorized or appropriated by this Act (or an amendment made by this Act), including credits applied toward qualified health plans under section 36B of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 or cost-sharing reductions under section 1402 of this Act, may be used to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion, except--
- ‘(A) if the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest; or
‘(B) in the case where a pregnant female suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the female in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.
H.R. 3803: District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act
You've probably figured out by now that Govtrack is a good place to read these bills.
- ‘(B) Subject to subparagraph (C), subparagraph (A) does not apply if, in reasonable medical judgment, the abortion is necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself, but not including psychological or emotional conditions.
‘(C) Notwithstanding the definitions of ‘abortion’ and ‘attempt an abortion’ in this section, a physician terminating or attempting to terminate a pregnancy under the exception provided by subparagraph (B) may do so only in the manner which, in reasonable medical judgment, provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive, unless, in reasonable medical judgment, termination of the pregnancy in that manner would pose a greater risk of--
- ‘(i) the death of the pregnant woman; or
‘(ii) the substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, not including psychological or emotional conditions, of the pregnant woman;
You'd actually be right in this instance. But the argument doesn't end there because you've ignored the stated purpose of this bill: "To amend title 18, United States Code, to protect pain-capable unborn children in the District of Columbia, and for other purposes."
There's a reason seventeen Democrats supported H.R. 3803 and the keyword is "pain-capable". Section 2 of the bill outlines the conditions that encompass the term "pain-capable", which if it's not apparent, means that the child is capable of feeling pain.
‘(2)(A) Except as provided in subparagraph (B), the abortion shall not be performed or attempted, if the probable post-fertilization age, as determined under paragraph (1), of the unborn child is 20 weeks or greater.
In summation: The bill only bans abortion after five months; not abortion across the board. You may disagree with the aim of this bill, but you cannot claim that this is a radical stance. What is, however, a radical stance is allowing for partial birth, born alive, infanticide and late term abortions, which the Democratic platform makes no exceptions for. See the Born Alive Infant Protection Act which the President opposed as a Senator for Barack Obama's views on the subject.
Supporters of the "War On Women" mantra go on to claim that Paul Ryan supported legislation that would redefine rape. The problem with this claim is that it's a bill you've already read: H.R. 3. Now, if you read it like I asked you to earlier, you'll know that the piece of legislation's intended purpose is not to redefine rape.
The claim that Republicans are attempting to redefine rape comes from the fact that the bill used stock language in the form of "forcible rape". If you need proof that it's stock language, you can review this report by the Bureau of Justice, which uses the same exact terminology in 1997. Or you can read this definition of the language by the FBI. Or this definition from the legal dictionary. Oh, I'm sorry; did someone mention changing the definition of rape? In any case, there's a few problems with this critique even on its face:
1. The phrase was removed from the bill (notice that it was nowhere to be found in the bill we read.)
2. Not a single Republican has endorsed the notion that the term was an attempt to redefine rape. Paul Ryan on the subject:
“Well, look. All of these bills were bills to stop taxpayer financing of abortion. Most Americans agree with us, including pro-choice Americans, that we shouldn’t use hardworking taxpayer dollars to finance abortion. Rape is rape, period. This is language that was stock language used for lots of different bills – bills I didn’t author – and that language was removed, to be very clear, and I agree with that, removing that language so we are very clear. Rape is rape, period. End of story.”
3. Republicans were not alone in sponsoring this bill. Solomon Ortiz, Henry Cuellar, Dan Boren, Jerry Costello, Mark Critz, Joe Donnelly, Daniel Lipinski, Collin Peterson, Nick Rahall, Mike Ross, and Heath Shuler were all Democrats who have come out in favor of H.R. 3.
I literally had someone arguing that Republicans were trying to make it so employers could decide whether employees could use contraception or not. When I asked for evidence to support this claim, he provided an innumerable amount of links that stated that Republicans were fighting to ensure that employers don't have to fund their employee's contraception.
Despite repeated attempts, I have yet to see a liberal provide anything that suggests that Republicans are doing anything more than this.
Lee Doren of How The World Works and the Competitive Enterprise Institute addressed this subject rather well. You can check it out here, here and here.
The notion of ultrasounds being "invasive" is a little odd, considering the subject matter. It honestly doesn't make sense to me, considering that ultrasounds are not considered invasive when an abortion is not being considered.
I, personally, don't regard these laws very highly, but I also don't see them as awful as the left is portraying them. Why? Because a fair enough point is made in the afore-linked-to Blaze article:
"One can only surmise that they’re worried patients will become conflicted in their conviction to have an abortion if they see the human-like image on the screen and perhaps even see the heartbeat. But if this isn’t really a 'person' what do they have to worry about?"
While I don't necessarily subscribe to when life begins in regards to early term pregnancy, it's a valid concern. Anyway, onto the actual policy. Mandatory ultrasounds as policy can be roughly divided into two pieces of legislation.
Senate Bill No. 484 of Virginia and H.R. 3805: Ultrasound Informed Consent Act.
In neither of these bills is the woman forced to view the sonogram and, in fact, Section 3402, Sub-section C of H.R. 3805 is "Ability To Turn Eyes Away". And in the instance of the Virginia legislation, it specifically states "The ultrasound image shall be made pursuant to standard medical practice in the community,"
In both bills, the ultrasound is described as "viewable" and not "to be viewed."
Moreover, there's nothing in these bills that lend to the notion that transvaginal ultrasounds are the only means of conducting the procedure. There are other forms of ultrasound than transvaginal. Not only that, but transvaginal ultrasounds are not the only forms of ultrasound effective during early term pregnancies.
UPDATE: See here for more.
It's a myth that Republicans want to necessarily end Planned Parenthood. The argument is that public funding should not be going to Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood would not disappear if it were defunded because, strictly speaking, the government is not Planned Parenthood's only source of revenue. It accounts for only 33% of Planned Parenthood's revenue and they take private donations, for those of you concerned for that loss of revenue.
Democrats are acting like Republicans have always wanted tax dollars going to abortions. Is it really so radical and misogynistic that Republicans don't want their tax dollars going to something that they personally believe is murder?
Honestly, I'm on the fence on the subject and I fully support the Republican Party in completely defunding Planned Parenthood. Ignoring Planned Parenthood's messy history with racism, eugenics, child prostitution, gendercide (rebuttal to the claim that the videos are doctored before you even say it) there is no way to reasonably justify forcing over half of the country to pay for something that they personally believe is murder, when it's perfectly reasonable that the parties involved can spring the cash themselves.
Side note: I know your rebuttal already, "What about the military!?"
The military is not mutually exclusive with murder, believe it or not. Yes, killing is sometimes involved -- but so is hostage rescue, relief, provisions, peacekeeping missions, et cetera. Contrary to popular belief, the military doesn't just sit around all day and fire M4-A1s at whatever they please. In the instances where you can claim killing is unjust, the people have the right to issue a referendum on the Commander-In-Chief in charge of the operation. And individual brutality is open to dishonorable discharge and prison sentences.
And one of the major differences is the ability to privatize. Abortion clinics could be very easily privatized; a military would not be so easy.
Post-script: If you attempt to use Rush Limbaugh and Sandra Fluke as your talking point to argue in favor of the "War On Women", then I challenge you to explain how the Democrats are not waging a war on women when Ed Schultz called Laura Ingraham a slut. And Ed Schultz was a lot more crude about it than Rush Limbaugh was. And it doesn't take much more than queueing "War On Women" (bonus: search Jason Biggs) on Twitchy to have this blow up in the Democratic Party's face.
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act
If you wanna get wasted, watch the Democratic National Convention and take a chug every time someone mentions the the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The claim is that Mitt Romney allegedly wouldn't sign a piece of legislation that would guarantee equal pay for men and women. The problem is that that's not what he said in his interview with Diane Sawyer:
MITT ROMNEY: "It's certainly a piece of legislation I have no intention of changing. I wasn't there three years ago —"
DIANE SAWYER: "But would you have signed it?"
MITT ROMNEY: "... I'm not going to go back and look at all the prior laws and say had I been there which ones would I have supported and signed, but I certainly support equal pay for women and — and have no intention of changing that law, don't think there's a reason to."
So, off the bat, Mitt Romney did not say he wouldn't sign the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. But what exactly does the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pact Act actually say?
The namesake of the bill is a nod to The Supreme Court case in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 550 U.S. 618 (2007). Pay attention because this is important to understand what the bill actually entails. The decision ruled that employers cannot be sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 over race or gender pay discrimination if the claims are based on decisions made by the employer 180 days ago or more.
In rejecting Ledbetter's appeal, the Supreme Court said that "she could have, and should have, sued" when the pay decisions were made, instead of waiting beyond the 180-day statutory charging period. The Court did leave open the possibility that a plaintiff could sue beyond the 180-day period if she did not, and could not, have discovered the discrimination earlier.
Now, it stands to reason that the bill would be related to the lawsuit, right? It's because of this that the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act does not ensure women equal pay for equal work. Instead, it simply extends the statuary limitations beyond the 180-day cutoff. That's it.
The reason why Republicans in Congress defeated the bill the first time was because, quite frankly, it's a stupid law. Like it says above, Ledbetter could have and should have sued before she actually did. And by opening up the statutory charging period beyond the 180-day period, you open up the floodgates to frivilous lawsuits and the opportunity for managers who weren't even involved in the initial discrimination to be sued. There's a reason we have a Statute of Limitations.
Beyond that, though. There's absolutely no proof that wage gaps are a byproduct of discrimination. "Equal pay for equal work" is nice, but how do you prove that you're doing equal work? How do you demonstrate that the person earning more than you is not earning more because they've been there for ten years, when you just got on the job?
I'm not saying discrimination doesn't happen, but lets look at the facts.
• Five female Democratic Senators were busted paying their female staff members significantly less than their male staff members.
• Barack Obama's claim that women earn "77 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men" was rated as "mostly false" by Politifact and Fact Check. Excerpt from Politifact:
"Sexism may explain differences in occupation, industry, education, hours and weeks worked, so it’s hard to know how much of the gap is due to discrimination. But (77 cents) isn’t the right statistic for saying ‘the same work as,’" said Betsey Stevenson, a business and public policy professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and visiting economics professor at Princeton University who previously served as chief economist for Obama’s labor secretary.
• Excerpt from the same Fact Check article: "Last year, looking at weekly earnings, the Labor Department put the figure at 81 cents on the dollar for 2010. It found that the median weekly earnings for women working full time at jobs paying a wage or salary was $669, compared with $824 for men. And although all these workers had normal work weeks of at least 35 hours (the minimum for 'full time'), the Labor Department study noted that, for whatever reason, 'men were more likely than women to have a longer workweek.'"
• Several notes from this article:
1. A study of single, childless urban workers between the ages of 22 and 30 found that women earned 8% more than men.
2. The Department of Labor's Time Use survey shows that full-time working women spend an average of 8.01 hours per day on the job, compared to 8.75 hours for full-time working men. One would expect that someone who works 9% more would also earn more. This one fact alone accounts for more than a third of the wage gap.3. Women gravitate toward jobs with fewer risks, more comfortable conditions, regular hours, more personal fulfillment and greater flexibility. Simply put, many women—not all, but enough to have a big impact on the statistics—are willing to trade higher pay for other desirable job characteristics.
• According to Payscale, men's wages grow for a longer period of time due to gender gravitation in the job market (men and women choose different occuptations) and family responsibilities. In effect, this means that -- surprise surprise -- men and women are different.
It becomes apparent when you take all the facts into consideration that "equal pay for equal work" is already in practice. The fact that men and women don't earn the exact same median income is not evidence of widespread discrimination.
"From the fact that people are very different it follows that, if we treat them equally, the result must be inequality in their actual position, and that the only way to place them in an equal position would be to treat them differently. Equality before the law and material equality are therefore not only different but are in conflict with each other; and we can achieve either one or the other, but not both at the same time." - F.A. Hayek
At the Democratic National Convention, Kerry Washington claimed that Republicans are trying to take away women's right to vote. Not only is this absurd on its face considering that there are (a lot of) -- surprise surprise -- female Republicans, but it's just a blatant lie.
I can't even debunk this claim because there isn't even anything you can take out of context to make this claim. The closest you can come is voter I.D. laws, which have no gender preference and takes away no one's right to vote. This is the very definition of bold-faced lie.
She also claimed that Republicans are attempting to remove a woman's right to choose, affordable quality education, equal pay, and access to health care. All of which are also lies.
Two of those three have already been debunked. Affordable, quality education fits in the same vein as her claim about Republicans taking away a woman's right to vote. And no Republican is arguing against access to health care; they are arguing over whether the Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act is the best way of achieving optimal health care efficiency.
This is blatant fearmongering and the Canada Free Press call her out on it pretty effectively.
Violence Against Women Act
The Violence Against Women Act has the kind of name that makes you think "What kind of monster would vote against this?!"
The legislation puts forward funds toward investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, imposed automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted, and allowed civil redress in cases prosecutors chose to leave unprosecuted.
Violence against women, however, is already illegal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Which makes the bill kind of pointless. Janice Shaw Crouse wrote a column on USA Today about the bill that's worth checking out.
That being said, Republicans never tried to block the measure. They, in fact, proposed their own version of the bill. Instead they proposed removing specific references to protecting men in both the prison population and the LGBT community.
In addition to the granting of U-visas to illegal immigrants without any link to enforcement against violence against women. This creates a breeding ground for fraud because illegal immigrants that are currently in deportation proceedings may apply for a U-visa without intention of actually aiding law enforcement.
The Democrat version of the bill also gives criminal jurisdiction over non-Indian individuals to Indian Tribes. S.E. Cupp describes the absurdity of this quite well.
As well, it includes the expansion of the word "violence" beyond actual violence.
Here's an excerpt from this article on Hot Air that addresses another of the concerns with the Leahy (Democrat) version of the legislation:
It’s not just that Democrats have inserted new provisions, though. It’s also that they refuse to consider measures that would ensure VAWA funds are used to protect victims of domestic violence. Consider:
- In July 2010, the Office of the Inspector General of the Justice Department audited the Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. in Wilmington, Delaware, which received a Legal Assistance for Victims grant in the amount of $891,422. That audit resulted in the questioning of the use of 93 percent of those funds.
- Similarly, a September 2005 audit of Legal Aid of Nebraska questioned the use of 64.5 percentof a $1,981,552 grant.
- Most of the grantees audited by the DOJ/OIG in 2010 were found to have used some grant funds questionably and had often failed to properly document their use of the funds (21 out of 22 grantees audited).
Democrats not only show an enormous disregard for taxpayers by failing to even consider new oversight measures, but they also show an enormous disregard for the victims of domestic violence. That they would play politics with this bill is appalling.
Here's another excerpt from a New York Times article that quotes a Republican Congressman:
“I favor the Violence Against Women Act and have supported it at various points over the years, but there are matters put on that bill that almost seem to invite opposition,” said Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, who opposed the latest version last month in the Judiciary Committee. “You think that’s possible? You think they might have put things in there we couldn't support that maybe then they could accuse you of not being supportive of fighting violence against women?”
In short: Republicans are not against the Violence Against Women Act. Ironically, Democrats are using the fact that Republicans don't agree with the specifics not related to violence against women -- to claim that Republicans are in favor of violence against women. Nevermind that 15 (or roughly a third) of te Republicans who voted in favor of the Leahy version of the bill.
Is It Working?
So, is the propaganda working? Not really.
For awhile, polls were showing Mitt Romney behind Barack Obama in the polls. But Mitt Romney was behind pretty much across the board, so that's not a great measure of determining. However, following the first Presidential Debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, it's obvious that it's not working.
According to an ABC News/Washington Post poll, Barack Obama's approval rating is going down among women.
According to a USA Today/Gallup poll, the gap between Obama and Romney has narrowed among women in the swing states. Across the board, they show a dead heat.
As well, Pew shows a dead heat between the two candidates at 47/47.
Post Election Update: Evidently, it worked, since Obama got elected.
For more information about what this is all about, I highly recommend reading "Who Stole Feminism?" by Christina Hoff Sommers. It's very enlightening and was written by an equity feminist and Democrat.