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Opinion Distinguished pol of the week: She called out GOP misogyny and contempt for vets

Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) speaks at a campaign event for then-presidential candidate Joe Biden in East Lansing, Mich., on Oct. 29, 2020. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

There are few members of Congress who can effectively lay bare the abject misogyny, cruelty and medical ignorance of the GOP. One such member: Rep. Elissa Slotkin.

The Michigan Democrat, a veteran of the CIA who completed three tours in Iraq and stepmother to a daughter serving in the Army, denounced a Republican effort this past week to hijack a bill that would help veterans transition to civilian life with a last-minute amendment to ban abortion for female veterans.

“You want to ban all abortions. That is your goal,” she said on Wednesday. “Many of you have been open about that, and if you flip the House, we know that you will put forward a full ban on all abortion for all states.” She went on: “We are all, on this floor, elected officials and not medical professionals. If it was your wife, your daughter who was suffering through a miscarriage, are you gonna tell her she can’t [have an abortion] until her fever gets high enough and until she’s bleeding harder?”

She ended, "If that’s what you want for veterans, shame on you!”

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Her remarks are worth listening to in full:

She’s right to call out the Republicans’ hypocrisy in their “support the troops” sloganeering and to highlight the 15 states that ban virtually all abortions.

Even GOP operative Karl Rove has acknowledged the issue is a liability for Republicans. Asked during a recent panel whether he considered Texas’s law, which bans the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy with essentially no exceptions, is too extreme, he replied, “Yeah, I do. I think it’s gonna create a real problem for Republicans in the legislature next year when they have to deal with it."

Accounts of rape victims or women carrying a fetus with fatal anomalies unable to access abortions are becoming commonplace. Politico also reports that even some women not seeking abortions are finding their medical care impaired: “Patients seeking drugs to treat everything from arthritis to acne at Walgreens and CVS pharmacies in the dozen-plus states with near-total abortion bans must show extra documentation to prove that they’re not using the drugs to end a pregnancy. … Those who can’t are, in some cases, being turned away.”

Republicans can try to flip-flop and conceal their statements in favor of depriving women of autonomy. But Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) gave away the GOP’s real strategy by proposing a nationwide ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy (though states would be free to enact even more severe laws). That’s where Republicans are heading.

Voters will have the chance to register their disapproval of forced-birth laws in the midterms, for which abortion has totally changed the landscape. In addition to the House, Senate, gubernatorial and state legislative races that might decide the future of abortion, many voters will be able to weigh in on a record number of ballot provisions on the issue.

If Kansas’s abortion referendum is any indication, these ballot issues might help register and drive pro-choice voters to the polls. Roll Call reports: “California, Michigan and Vermont voters will decide in November whether to include abortion protections in their state constitutions, while Kentucky will decide whether there should explicitly not be a right to abortion or related state funding in its state constitution.”

Candidates who really care about women’s lives and rights would do well to follow Slotkin’s lead. They will find a receptive audience among the 60 percent of voters who oppose the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

For presenting a clear and compelling argument about the stakes when politicians seek to control women’s bodies, we can say well done, Rep. Slotkin.