What's happened to the whole Republican "the economy and jobs are our first priority" mantra from the 2010 elections? Eric Cantor can say it all he wants, but that isn't making it true. Instead of jobs, conservatives are once again focused on our lady parts. While I am sort of getting used to the new TSA pat downs, I have to draw the line when it comes to the government getting its hands on my privates.
The GOP is focusing on the budget, but not for creating jobs -- they are trying to impact substantive issues through bills that control spending, as they recently did in their (thankfully) failed attempt to redefine rape in the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act." It initially called for limiting the availability of Medicaid funds for abortion only to women who had been "forcibly" raped.
Since the original passage of the Hyde Amendment in 1976, no federal taxpayer funds have been available to cover the cost of abortions through Medicaid except in instances of rape, incest or if the life of the mother is in danger. The forcible rape exception, introduced by Representative Chris Smith (R-N.J.), didn't explicitly spell out in the bill what that meant, but a variety of organizations, including NOW and EMILY's List, believed it would exclude victims of statutory rape, date rape, rape victims who initially said "no" but weren't able to fend off their attackers, and women who feared for their lives unless they acquiesced to a rapist's demands.
Often, Democrats are scarily silent in these debates. Thankfully Democratic Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut led the charge that ended in having that exception pulled from the bill. That's good news as far as it goes. Fortunately, they're also spearheading a full court press to make voters aware of the mostly-Republican efforts to further chip away at women's reproductive health rights.
Their full-court press includes a petition effort encouraging voters to contact their representatives if they disagree with the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. And now several other senators have joined with a fiery Gillibrand to protest not only this specific bill, but the GOP's bait-and-switch agenda:
But why go to such lengths when the bill has little chance to ever become law? Gillibrand explained it to me this way:
"This legislation is an unprecedented effort to restrict access to women's reproductive health care and it is critical that my colleagues and everyone who cares about women's rights have the facts about the damage this bill would cause. "
The GOP's mantra has long been that there is too much government involvement in our lives. Right now, one commercial airing daily calls on the government not to tax soda and soft drinks because that's just too much intrusion into our private lives. So if conservatives are upset that Uncle Sam is too involved in what we put in the shopping cart, how do they square that with telling a woman who has been raped that maybe her rape just wasn't violent enough to warrant an abortion?
I'll make a deal with the Republicans -- I'll keep my hands of their soft drinks if they stay away from my uterus.
Joanne Bamberger is the author of the forthcoming book, Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America (Bright Sky Press). She is the founder of the political website, PunditMom, and a regular contributor to AOL's Politics Daily.