Fox's Bill O'Reilly dismissed the sustained Republican attack on women's rights. While criticizing Caroline Kennedy's speech at the Democratic National Convention, O'Reilly said: "I don't see any women's rights under assault at all. I don't see it." In fact, Republicans throughout the country have pushed legislation that would result in limiting women's reproductive rights.
In her September 6 speech at the Democratic National Convention, Kennedy stated:
As a Catholic woman, I take reproductive health seriously, and today, it is under attack. ... This year alone, more than a dozen states have passed more than 40 restrictions on women's access to reproductive healthcare. That's not the kind of future I want for my daughters or your daughters. Now isn't the time to roll back the rights we were winning when my father was president.
O'Reilly devoted three segments to attacking Kennedy's comments, claiming that "she wants unfettered abortion." He went on to say that "nobody's denying anybody's rights to anything," and repeatedly denied that women's reproductive rights are being threatened. Fox News contributor Karl Rove agreed, saying: "No one's seriously talking about ending abortion."
O'Reilly also attacked Sandra Fluke, who publicly testified in support of the Obama administration's contraceptive mandate, and continued to demonize Dr. George Tiller, a Kansas doctor who performed abortions and was murdered by an anti-abortion zealot.
O'Reilly's claim that women's rights are not under assault is flatly untrue. In its 2012 platform, the Republican Party explicitly advocates for a ban on abortion. The Republican platform does not even contain an exception for rape and incest.
Indeed, as journalist Joel Brinkley 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:
In addition to calling for a total ban on abortions, Republicans are also attacking Planned Parenthood, the organization that provides health services for poor women nationwide -- including abortion referrals in most of its offices.
On Tuesday, a federal appeals court ruled that Texas can end financing for Planned Parenthood clinics. The Republican-controlled Legislature there passed a law last year forbidding state funding for any organization affiliated with abortion providers. Eight Texas Planned Parenthood offices that say they do not provide abortion services challenged the law in court, and a federal appeals court judge stayed the law until the organization's appeal goes to trial in October. Tuesday the judge was overruled.
Planned Parenthood is under assault from conservative Republicans nationwide. That agenda is isolating them. Even the four Latin American nations that forbid abortion under any circumstances all provide government-funded, family-planning services, the United Nations reported.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has repeatedly embraced a federal constitutional amendment to outlaw abortion. He has also stated his desire to see Roe v. Wade overturned. In April 2012, Romney said to ABC's Diane Sawyer: "I would love the Supreme Court to say, 'Let's send this back to the states.' Rather than having a federal mandate through Roe v. Wade, let the states again consider this issue state by state." He added: "But I'm pro-life, that's my view. I believe there is a sanctity of human life."
Moreover, the "Values" section of his campaign website says:
[W]hile the nation remains so divided, he believes that the right next step is for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade -- a case of blatant judicial activism that took a decision that should be left to the people and placed it in the hands of unelected judges. With Roe overturned, states will be empowered through the democratic process to determine their own abortion laws and not have them dictated by judicial mandate.
The Republican assault on women's rights goes far beyond rhetoric. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 916 measures meant to curb reproductive rights were introduced in the first quarter of 2011 alone. The institute found that the proposals were "more hostile to abortion rights than in the past." Guttmacher further reported that "[o]ver the course of 2011, legislators in all 50 states introduced more than 1,100 provisions related to reproductive health and rights. At the end of it all, states had adopted 135 new reproductive health provisions -- a dramatic increase from the 89 enacted in 2010 and the 77 enacted in 2009." It added:
Fully 92 of the enacted provisions seek to restrict abortion, shattering the previous record of 34 abortion restrictions enacted in 2005 (see chart). A striking 68% of the reproductive health provisions from 2011 are abortion restrictions, compared with only 26% the year before.
Republicans in Congress have pushed through numerous bills that threaten women's reproductive health, including one that sought to allow "the federal and state governments" to ban abortion and made "no exception for rape." Lawmakers have also repeatedly tried to ram through bills that would curb abortion in the District of Columbia, including one that would have criminalized doctors who performed abortions after 20 weeks, even in cases of rape, incest, and fetal abnormalities. Romney's running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has co-sponsored or voted for many of these measures.
As a New York Times editorial stated, the GOP is "not backing off their assault on women's equality and well-being," noting that some new state laws "could mean a death sentence for a pregnant woman who suffers a life-threatening condition." After outlining several of these anti-women bills, the Times concluded:
Whether this pattern of disturbing developments constitutes a war on women is a political argument. That women's rights and health are casualties of Republican policy is indisputable.