Decoding the GOP’s anti-women spin, in four easy steps

    Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus gestures as he speaks during a news conference and meeting with state Republican Hispanics

    Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus gestures as he speaks during a news conference and meeting with state Republican Hispanics

    I have a question for you: If the government stepped into your personal life and decreed that you had to drive hundreds of miles just to exercise one of your constitutional rights, would you believe the government’s claim that it was treating you with “compassion” and “respect?”

    Your answer is obvious. Keep it in mind while I revisit Reince Priebus’ gig last Sunday on Meet the Press, because it will make the GOP chairman’s anti-women spin sound even more absurd.

    There’s no need to list, yet again, all the reasons why Republicans fare so poorly with women voters, most notably in presidential elections. Republicans always vow to do better, but one big problem – one core hypocrisy – is that the party of “small government” remains wedded to the notion that Big Brother has every right to regulate lady parts. And it’s Priebus’ thankless spin-job to somehow convince the ladies that this is perfectly OK, a sign of the party’s “compassion” and “respect.”

    Which brings us to that gig on Meet the Press, where host Chuck Todd cited a new draconian law – enacted by the Republican Texas legislature, and newly upheld in federal appeals court by two Republican appointees – that’s forcing the closure of 13 abortion clinics statewide.

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    The law’s regulations are so onerous – all clinics must meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers, a $1-mlllion upgrade per clinic – that only seven have the resources to comply. Those remaining seven clinics are all clustered around major cities, which hurts rural women and poor women without wheels. As a federal judge noted in August, the law imposes an “undue burden” on “a significant number of women in Texas, just as drastically as a complete ban on abortion” – which is unconstitutional, given the rights conferred in Roe v. Wade.

    So here is Todd, pinning Priebus to the wall: “One of the things about the Republican party is, you don’t like a lot of regulation on businesses, except if the business is an abortion clinic. Eighty percent of these abortion clinics in Texas are going to be basically out of business because of this new law. Too much regulation, is that fair?…. Why restrict a business now in the state of Texas?”

    Here is Priebus’ spin-response, which I will decode in four easy ways. Watch for the footnotes:

    “Well, you obviously have to talk to someone in Texas (1). But the fact of the matter is that we believe that any woman that’s faced with an unplanned pregnancy deserves compassion, respect (2), counseling, whatever it is that we can offer to be – “

    Todd interjects with a delicious riposte: “But 80 percent of those clinics are gone. It’s something that they have to drive 200 or 300 miles for that compassion?”

    “No, look, listen, Chuck. The issue for us is only one thing. And that’s whether you ought to use taxpayer money to fund abortion. That’s the one issue that I think separates this conversation that we’re having (3). And so and the fact of the matter is, what this election is going to come down to, and I think we know it, is whether or not people feel better off today than they did four or five years ago, whether these Democrat senators followed this president lockstep, in spite of the fact that things aren’t going in the right direction, whether it be ObamaCare, jobs, the economy, Keystone Pipeline, all of the above (4).”

    OK, here we go:

    (1) No, we don’t need to “talk to somebody in Texas,” as if this is just some local Texas deal. Curbing women’s constitutional rights to an abortion, via onerous clinic regulation, has been nationwide Republican policy since at least 2010. Crazy code restrictions – like requiring that each procedure room have a 50-square-foot closet – have become de rigeuer, thanks to GOP-enacted laws in Kansas, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, and Michigan, and Mississippi.

    (2) As recently as a year ago in Texas, there were 44 clinics statewide. Soon, only seven. The last remaining clinic in the impoverished Rio Grande Valley has closed, and women there (median household income as low as $23,000 a year) face a seven-hour roundtrip ride to the nearest clinic, up in San Antonio. How is it a gesture of “compassion” and “respect” to compel them by government decree to ride that far to exercise a right recognized repeatedly by the U.S. Supreme Court?

    (3) So the only issue for Republicans – “only one thing” – is “whether you ought to use taxpayer money to fund abortion”…Huh? What? That’s not what the Texas law is about. Or what the other states’ code-restriction laws are about. Priebus brought up the taxpayer thing simply to blow smoke and dodge the topic.

    (4) “And so and the fact of the matter is, what this election is going to come down to…” That’s the point at which Priebus began to flee the issue at breakneck speed, and crank the rote talking points that he brought to the studio. Fine, he’s paid to do stuff like that. Plus, he knows that lower-income and minority women don’t vote heavily in midterms, which is why he felt free to insult them (and us) with buzz words like compassion and respect.

    But if past is prologue, that standard Republican ‘tude won’t play well with women in 2016, when it counts most.


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    he practical impact on Texas women due to the clinics’ closure statewide would operate for a significant number of women in Texas just as drastically as a complete ban on abortion.” – See more at:





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