There was a telling moment about 20 minutes into the State of the Union address on Tuesday. Not for the first time, President Obama called for legislationthat makes sure a woman is paid the same as a man for doing the same work.” Last year, when the president made the same call, both parties applauded. This year, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and many Republicans stayed firmly in their seats. 

Of course, the GOP has blocked multiple pay equity laws in the past, so the party’s real stance on the issue is clear. But in the past they have at least paid lip service to “equal pay for equal work.” It’s tough to avoid the conclusion that many Republicans, including Boehner, simply care about female voters so little that they won’t even go through the motions anymore of expressing “support” for women.

Already, though, the GOP is seeing the damage of ignoring women in its own caucus. When the party went on its policy retreat last week in Hershey, Pa., Reps. Renee L. Ellmers (R-N.C.) and Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) raised concerns about the “Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” introduced by Reps. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). Ellmers and Walorski were concerned about the optics with female and younger voters of holding a vote on an abortion bill so early in the year, and about the bill only allowing exceptions for women who were raped and had reported the rape to law enforcement. (Regardless of one’s stance on abortion writ large, surely most people can agree it is wrong to not allow exceptions for incest or the life of the mother and to force traumatized rape victims to go to law enforcement whether or not they want to.)

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The Republican leadership brushed off their concerns. And so, instead of quietly watering down the bill ahead of time, Boehner and company had to embarrassingly withdraw of the Franks-Blackburn bill after moderate and female Republicans publicly revolted against it. What should have been a smooth coordination with Thursday’s big pro-life march in Washington collapsed into shambles.

Republicans, especially would-be presidential candidates, should hope Boehner learns a lesson from this. The House GOP leadership has already seen the cost of ignoring female representatives. If the party doesn’t change its attitude, it will see the same disaster play out on a grander scale with female voters.

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