Political Action Committee
A Message From Ann Stone, RFC Chair
We saw when the American people briefly gave the GOP control of both the White House and Congress that we all lived to regret it. In less than 12 years the GOP managed to take on the worst of the bad habits the Democrats had developed in the 40 years of their iron fisted rule. Have they learned their lesson? First we need some history to give context to the question...
The GOP became the Party of Big Spending and Big Government,
who proceeded to try and control our lives from cradle (attacks on a woman's right to choose and restricting stem cell rresearch) to grave (Terri Schiavo) .
Add to all that the Patriot Act and attacks on gay rights and interference in doctor/patient relationships and it is no wonder that now the GOP is seen as
the Party that favors Big Government interference in our lives!!
Proof of this betrayal of core GOP values is seen in surveys done on the Millenials (the voters of the future) who say they don't trust Government
but they see the GOP as the party that wants bigger Government and more Government control over our lives...Boy have we gotten off course!
When and how did the GOP go astray? I would contend that the roots of their demise started earlier
than the Iraq War -- even before 1994 when they took control of the Congress. I would contend that the conflict and hypocrisy surrounding our Party's conflict over a woman's right to choose in 1989-1992 helped set the stage for the Party's detour from core values. It also began the exodus of women from the GOP.
Contrary to conventional wisdom Ronald Reagan did not have a large gender gap. That gap began to grow
under the first George Bush and widened greatly in the 1992 campaign for reasons I will outline below.
Let's look back on how we started to go off course from the central principles of Republican philosophy....
Webster in 1989 was the first Supreme Court decision to limit Roe. A woman's right to choose was upheld
For the first time, mainstream Republicans started voting against the Party on this issue when they realized that right could in fact be overturned.
The American Association of Political Scientists featured a study on the 1992 campaign,entitled It's Abortion, Stupid by Emory University, That study made a strong case that the defeat of the senior George Bush was due to the 28% of Republican women who defected to pro-choice candidates Perot, and Clinton largely on the issue of abortion fresh off the 1989 decision.
So how did we take the Congress in 1994 given that exodus?
In stark contrast to the rhetoric of the Party and its 1992 Platform, the 1994 "Contract with America" presented
Rather than build on the success of 1994, to give women and moderates a permanent reason to stay in the GOP....the Party leadership continued to advocate this Government interference strategy in its Platform and rhetoric. But they are hypocrites in reality. They played games and continued to chip away at Roe but they were scared to go at it full force. Think about it. The GOP controlled Congress from 1994 through 2006. And they had the White House in from 2000 through 2006 but not once did they ever even hold a vote -- or a debate in Congress on the so-called "Human Life Amendment" that would outlaw abortion. Yet this is the legislative centerpiece of the Party Platform on abortion.
The Human Life Amendment is a dangerous fraud!
There are serious problems with this amendment as policy as well as the so called Personhood Amendment. Just as Prohibition in the 1920s was unable to end the consumption of alcohol, a Constitutional amendment to ban all abortions would actually do little to reduce the number of abortions that occur. It will, however, end the practice of safe abortions, forcing women to return to the days of back alley procedures using coat hangers and chemicals. Women and their doctors would become criminals.
Also, this amendment raises questions no one seems to want to answer. If life begins with a fertilized egg, which contraceptives that interfere with a fertilized egg would be outlawed? How long will a doctor have to serve in jail for providing an abortion? And the woman? Is she charged with murder or as an accomplice? What will be done about women who self-abort? How will we know? Who will watch them? Who will turn them in?
Rather than admit these amendments are a disaster, anti-choice Republicans continue to pander on them through Platform language. They don't dare actually debate and vote on either version in Congress. They know a public debate in Congress on what a Constitutional amendment to ban abortion means would spell disaster for the pro-life movement and the GOP.
But by continuing to affirm the call for this so called Human Life Amendment in the Republican Platform or pushing the Personhood Amendment, the pro-life minority in the GOP continues to hand the Democrats ammunition.
I am not sure which upsets me more...the fact that these Amendments are terrible policy or the fact that I believe this is a bunch of baloney and that our Party leaders are scamming the public.
I make that latter statement not only due to the fact that this Amendment has not had a hearing or a vote
On more than one occasion the Party Leadership has moved decisively behind the scenes to cut off possible attacks on the moderates in the Party that are contrary to their public rhetoric.
First, they worked with our group to stop a Party Resolution that would have cut off any Party money to any candidate that did not support the ban on the so-called Partial Birth Abortion. Second, at more than one convention they helped us stop even worse language from being introduced although their attempts to modify language to include us have been laughable.
Take for example the Statement of Principles which reads: The Republican Party wants "[a]n America with
The Statement of Principles added in 1996 would be comical if it weren't so insulting. How can anyone take these principles seriously when the Platform abortion plank specifically says the Party doesn't trust a woman
Then there are the collection of words that were changed in 2004 to acknowledge that Republicans differ on some issues and that we "recognize and respect" the right to differ. They would not even identify which
In the 2004 election, women and moderates came home to the GOP due to national security concerns.
This exodus reached a fever pitch in the 2006 elections. Moderate mainstream traditional Republicans didn't just walk out on the Party at the polls...they sprinted...never once looking back.
In 2008 John McCain's campaign attempted for the first time ever by any GOP Presidential contender to insert language, suggested by RFC, into the actual Plank on abortion that recognized that pro- choice Republicans exist. It also called for those who disagree to work together to find common ground to reduce the need for abortion. But the extreme elements of the Platform committee that McCain's campaign did NOT control, stripped the language out...but the fact the campaign even tried was a major step forward.
In 2012 the Romney campaign in a desperate attempt to placate the social conservatives (who did not like or trust him) sold us out on the issue.He had previously been pro-choice. To try and salvage some outreach to moderates and pro-choice conservatives we did get language in the lead in to the section on abortion that said reasonable people should proceed with what their conscience dictated on those issues...which is the essence of our pro- choice position on the social issues. But that was little consolation,
So the gender gap continues and the Democrats' "War on Women" narrative continues to stick. The Party knows what the problem is but they have been slow to try and make any changes.
Their own focus group and polling research tells the GOP that their problem with women on this issue has little to actually do with abortion. Abortion has become a "filter' issue for women.
Women see the GOP position on abortion as "proof" that Republicans want to control women and their lives...that they don't trust women to run their own affairs. Trust and respect for women is seen as lacking in GOP social issue policies.
The GOP Growth and Opportunity Report research reaffirmed this after the 2012 election. So where do we go from here?
If the so-called pro-life Republican Leadership was really serious about reducing the number of abortions in this country, the path to success is clear. Drop the abortion amendment plank and work together to change the culture. They would work with us to find common ground and support programs that actually do reduce abortion.
Working together with us they would stop advocating policies that insult and infuriate women and would never really stop abortion. The Party would also come to realize that their past bad ideas on eliminating abortion also does do away with most forms of contraception.
The Party keeps saying that is not their intent to affect or outlaw contraception, but that in fact would be a by product of the so-called Human Life Amendment and their newest scheme,The Personhood Amendment. If life begins with a fertilized egg then birth control pills and many other methods deemed abortiafacient would be illegal since they interfere with the fertilized egg. The GOP can not hide from this conundrum...they need to
Together, pro-choice and anti-choice Republicans could come up with policies that would make abortions unnecessary. We would work to affect change through positive private programs that would end unintended pregnancies, not seek government intrusion as the solution as the Demcrats advocate on most issues.
Our GOP leaders in Congress have squandered our previous election advantage and worse yet betrayed our Party's great history as the Party of new ideas and positive action especially when it comes to women.
Maybe they need a history lesson about the central role of Republican women such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott and Alice Paul in pushing for women's rights in this country.
The male Republican legislators back then trusted women enough to give us the right to vote...our current
crop of GOP leaders should follow their ancestors' lead and show that they too trust women enough to let
them make their own medical decisions not put that in the hands of Government.
To do otherwise is not very Republican.