Two decades later, a slew of Republican attacks on women, women’s health and women’s economic futures might just turn 2012 into another “Year of the Woman.” To understand why, it’s worth recapping this year’s parade of anti-women horrors.
News broke in late January that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast cancer foundation would stop providing funds to Planned Parenthood for cancer screenings for low-income women. After facing the wrath of its supporters for politicizing women’s health — while Planned Parenthood was showered with donations — Komen quickly reversed its decision.
In February, House Republicans organized a hearing on access to contraception— but neglected to invite any women to testify. In a stunning echo of the Anita Hill moment, a group of five men, mostly religious clergy, shared their “expertise” about the issue. And when Georgetown Law student and women’s health advocate Sandra Fluke protested being left off the panel, Rush Limbaugh hurled crude and cruel comments at her.
The same day, Foster Friess, a major supporter of Rick Santorum’s presidential bid, told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell that he didn’t understand the fuss over insurance coverage for contraception. “Back in my days, they’d use Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees, and it wasn’t that costly,” he said, leaving Mitchell speechless on live television.
Also in February, the Virginia House of Delegates tried to pass a measure requiring women to undergo a medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasound before having an abortion— a procedure that is exactly as invasive as it sounds. After a nationwide uproar, legislators passed a scaled-back, but equally unnecessary and insulting, ultrasound bill, which Republican governor Bob McDonnell signed into law.
The kicker came in August, when Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin said in a TV interview, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing [pregnancy] down.” Many top Republicans initially distanced themselves from Akin and his false, degrading remark. But he called their bluff, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee recently suggested that it will likely back his campaign against Democratic senator Claire McCaskill.