Republican Presidential Candidates Battle to Outdo Each Other in Opposing Women’s Issues

Monday, August 10, 2015
Scott Walker (left) and Donald Trump at the first Republican debate of 2015 (AP Photo)

If you watched the Republican presidential debate on Thursday, you learned one thing: The GOP is a man’s world. The last time a majority of women voted for a Republican presidential candidate was 1988…seven elections ago.


The 10 candidates on the stage seemingly tried to outdo each other on taking away women’s abortion rights. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio denied he’d ever supported an anti-abortion measure that would allow exceptions for rape, incest or threat to the life of the mother. “What I have advocated is that we pass law in this country that says all human life at every stage of its development is worthy of protection,” Rubio said. In fact, in November 2013, Rubio co-sponsored a bill that did allow these exceptions. Three other Republican presidential candidates co-sponsored the same bill: Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Lindsey Graham.


Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker repeated his view that abortion bans should have no exception for the health of the mother. When asked by Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly if he’d really let a mother die rather than allow her an abortion, Walker responded with a weasel-filled word salad: “I’ve got a position that’s consistent with many Americans out there in that I believe that that is an unborn child that’s in need of protection out there. And I’ve said many times that that unborn child can be protected and there are many alternatives that would protect the life of the mother.”


Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee even advocated rights for fertilized eggs. “This notion that we just continue to ignore the personhood of the individual is a violation of that unborn child’s Fifth and 14th Amendment rights for due process and equal protection under the law,” he said.


But it wasn’t just abortion that bothered the candidates. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said early last week that he wasn’t sure “we need a half a billion dollars for women’s health issues.” All the candidates have urged defunding Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of women’s health services.


Ohio Gov. John Kasich, whom some see as a “moderate” Republican, mandated medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds, to be paid for by the patient, before a woman may have an abortion in his state. He also prohibited state-funded rape crisis centers from discussing abortion options with victims.


And then there’s Donald Trump. In addition to agreeing with the other candidates on abortion and Planned Parenthood funding—he said he’d shut down the government rather than fund the organization—Trump made it clear that he personally disrespects women. He has made comments calling women “pigs,” or saying that breast feeding is “disgusting.” He also took offense to Kelly’s questioning Thursday, so much so that he commented the next day that “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her—wherever.” That comment got Trump disinvited from a Saturday gathering of candidates sponsored by the conservative site RedState, whose leader, Erick Erickson, once referred to pro-abortion activists as “feminazis” who were “too ugly to get a date” and called Michelle Obama a “marxist harpy.”


And what about Carly Fiorina, the one major female Republican candidate? She was relegated to the earlier second-tier debate and by many accounts was the “winner” there. But she has long stated her opposition to abortion and even access for birth control. She also opposes raising the minimum wage, an issue that affects women more than men.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

A Sexist Smorgasbord (by Laura Chapin, U.S. News and World Report)

GOP Candidates Reveal Their Terrifying Fantasies About Abortion At First Debate (by Tara Culp-Ressler, ThinkProgress)

Fear That Debate Could Hurt G.O.P. in Women’s Eyes (by Patrick Healy and Jeremy W. Peters, New York Times)

How Jeb Bush Accidentally Expressed The GOP Position On Planned Parenthood (by Kay Steiger, ThinkProgress)

Here Are All Donald Trump’s Insults to Women That Megyn Kelly Asked About (by Libby Nelson, Vox)

Donald Trump’s Invite to Redstate Event Revoked Over Megyn Kelly Comments (by Katie Glueck, Politico)

In House of Representatives, Republicans Remain the White Man Party (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Why are Republicans Objecting to So Many of Obama’s Nominations of Women? (by David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


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