Fox Panel On GOP's Gender Gap Ignores Party's Attacks On Women's Rights

Blog ››› ››› MIKE BURNS

During a Fox News panel discussion on how women helped reelect President Obama, host Jenna Lee wondered what obstacles the Republican Party needed to overcome to win a sizeable share of the female vote. Yet apart from saying that "we heard a lot about" the "alleged war on women," Lee did not touch on the party's attacks on women's rights, including the GOP's expansive legislative efforts to restrict those rights, or the party's dismissal of wage equality.

On Happening Now, Lee hosted three women to talk about the Republican Party's gender gap and how Republicans can "do a better job of winning the female vote." Lee noted that Obama beat Republican Mitt Romney by 11 points among women and went on to ask guest Sabrina Schaeffer how Republicans can "fight the battle of the alleged war on women" if they avoid talking about gender politics.

Schaeffer, the executive director of the Independent Women's Forum, said that Republicans should talk to women about how they can expand women's liberty, which "is not a war on women." Guest Wendi Biondi, who attended the second presidential debate, added: "I cannot stand that term 'war on women.' "

Despite Lee's reference to a "war on women," not once did she note that the Republican Party has launched a wide-ranging assault on women's rights -- nor did she discuss recent inflammatory comments by two GOP lawmakers that resulted in their election-night losses.

During an interview with local St. Louis TV station KTVI, Republican Congressman Todd Akin claimed that it's "really rare" for women subjected to "legitimate rape" to become pregnant. Likewise, Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock suggested that pregnancies resulting from rape are "something that God intended to happen."

(Both Akin and Mourdock lost their Senate races. Mourdock lost among women by 10 points, and Akin was outperformed by his opponent, Sen. Claire McCaskill, by nearly three-to-two among women.)

This rhetoric is reflected in actual policies pushed by Republicans.

In its 2012 platform, the Republican Party explicitly advocated for a ban on abortion. The Republican platform did not even contain an exception for rape and incest. Joel Brinkley, a journalism professor at Stanford University, reported in Politico, "No other nation in the Western world restricts abortion as severely as the Republican Party is calling for in its draft platform." Brinkley added that "the Republican Party has placed itself in a position in which it could be totally alone in the world" by attacking Planned Parenthood.

During the 2012 presidential campaign, Romney repeatedly embraced a federal constitutional amendment to outlaw abortion. In a September interview with NBC's Meet the Press, Romney stated that if elected, his preference would be to appoint Supreme Court justices that would reverse Roe v. Wade.

Moreover, congressional Republicans have pushed through numerous bills that threaten women's reproductive choices. One of those bills, "Sanctity of Human Life Act," empowered "the federal and state governments" to ban abortion and made "no exception for rape."

Republicans also voted to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood and sponsored legislation that would have allowed any corporation to withdraw coverage from its workers for contraception or any other medical treatment by claiming that it objects to such coverage.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, 916 measures meant to curb reproductive rights were introduced in the first quarter of 2011 alone.

Republican lawmakers have also dismissed concerns about wage inequality. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, for instance, derided the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as "an effort to help trial lawyers collect fees."  

In 2009, all but five Senate Republicans voted against the Lilly Ledbetter act. Of those five, four were women and the other was the late-Senator Arlen Specter, who later switched to the Democratic Party. The Associated Press noted at the time that "[t]he measure is designed to make it easier for workers to sue for decades-old discrimination."

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Jenna Lee
Happening Now
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