My Party is Out of Touch on Reproductive Freedom and Health Care
Last week, I attended the 2012 Republican National Committee platform committee meetings as an observer on behalf of Republicans for Planned Parenthood. It was quite an experience.
The committee, chaired by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (of mandatory ultrasound fame), was made up of two Republican National Convention delegates from each state. Every four years, they meet to set an agenda and define their party’s policy on a number of issues that affect our country. The official party platform, put forth by the committee, isn’t final until it’s approved by all delegates at the national convention this week.
My expectations weren’t particularly high, considering that Governor Bob McDonnell chaired the platform committee. But I have to say the committee meetings were an utter disappointment for women’s health advocates.
Rather than modify its extreme platform and return the Party to its traditional values, the committee reaffirmed its opposition to abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest, its opposition to comprehensive sex education, and its disapproval of funding for any organization that provides abortions or refers patients to abortion providers. As a Republican woman, I was outraged to see my Party continue to support such extreme positions that go against personal freedom and constitutional rights.
On the heels of the offensive comments made by Republican Congressman Todd Akin on so-called “legitimate rape,” you’d think the Party might want to bring its agenda into the next decade and temper the extreme positions some Republicans hold. Instead the committee reaffirmed one of the most extreme platforms in Republican history, promoting an agenda that would allow the government to overreach into the personal and private decisions best left up to a woman, her faith, and her family, with the counsel of her doctor or health care provider.
This week’s lineup at the Republican National Convention doesn’t look any brighter. Beginning with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus (who tries to distract from my Party’s actions with metaphors about “war on caterpillars” while ignoring the fact that two of the first three bills introduced by the Republican-led House sought to restrict access to women’s health), the convention will also include former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (a defender of Rep. Todd Akin), House Speaker John Boehner, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (who vetoed nearly $500,000 in domestic violence funding by saying it “wasn’t a priority”), Governor McDonnell, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (who has sought to limit access to Planned Parenthood), and Florida Senator Marco Rubio (who has led the charge to deny women full access to birth control), among others. The whole convention seems to be a rollout of politicians who have spent the last year competing to see who could be the worst for women.
It’s disheartening to see the Party that once valued individual liberty and family planning run so far from its roots. There is hope: the Republican Party hasn’t always been this way. If moderate Republicans from across the country continue to raise their voices in support of women’s health and access to medical care, we can effect meaningful change. For example, the GOP’s own online grassroots platform had as its single largest vote-getter on abortion issues “Remove Pro-life from the party platform.”
While some members of the Party promote the idea that Republicans do not support family planning and reproductive freedom, it just isn’t true, as pro-women’s health Republicans are working every day in every state to make sure that their voices are heard across the country. If you would like to join Republicans for Planned Parenthood in asking the Republican National Committee to include a pro-women's health and individual liberty platform you can add your name here:
Kim Smith is the Republican Outreach Manager for Planned Parenthood Action Fund.