GOP’s Shocking Attack On Women

Mitt Romney. AP photos

“Planned Parenthood, we’re going to get rid of that.”

That was one of the solutions Mitt Romney offered when asked how he’d cut the nation’s deficit.

I was struck by the way Romney said it. So … casual. As if to say, oh, we’ll just get rid of a service that millions of women rely on for Pap smears, breast exams and birth control.

He probably figures they can go elsewhere for family planning, for pregnancy testing and counseling, for treatment of urinary tract infections or diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.

So what if many of those women can’t afford a regular doctor? There’s always health care insurance, right?

But, oh, wait. He wants to get rid of “Obamacare,” too.

Later on, his campaign strategist, Eric Ferhnstrom, tried to clarify. Romney, he said, didn’t mean he’d actually get rid of Planned Parenthood, he meant he’d cut all its federal funding. OK, then.

Quite a turnaround for a man who sought out Planned Parenthood’s endorsement in 2002 when he was running for governor of Massachusetts.

Lately, women of a certain age (and yes, I am one of them) are feeling a little, well, shocked. All around the country, women are facing attacks on reproductive and contraceptive rights we’ve taken for granted.

We’ve got congressional Republicans trying to let employers opt out of coverage for our birth control. The Blunt Amendment failed, but it was a close vote along party lines.

We’ve got a man who could become president of the United States, Rick Santorum, who believes birth control is morally wrong and “harms women and society.”

We’ve got state legislatures introducing and passing bills requiring invasive ultrasounds and waiting periods before a woman can have an abortion.

What the heck is happening in this country? Are women really in danger of being herded back into the 1950s?

As it turns out, this is Women’s History Month. This year’s theme is Women’s Education – Women’s Empowerment.

Rick Santorum

It’s supposed to be a time to highlight our contributions to important world events and to contemporary society.

But at the same time that we are celebrating our accomplishments, we are fighting off new assaults to our hard-won equality and independence. I find that both strange and disheartening.

It’s sad that I’m even saying this because we shouldn’t be fighting these battles all over again.

But we are.

And those of us who grew up with Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, who were and are feminists – and proud of it – are appalled that the gains we thought we had secured are so vulnerable to the whims of politics.

Although many of my peers have an awful sense of déjà vu, it’s new to those who are just starting to test and flex their political muscle.

My hope is that young women – and young men, for that matter – will realize that they can’t afford to take their world for granted.

I cannot believe that they will allow society to slide backwards instead of marching confidently forward.

It’s not just a matter of women’s rights, but human rights.

We’re all in this together.