Politics & Policy

The Left and the ‘War on Women’

Democrats miss no opportunity to claim discrimination.

The “war on women” is a widespread campaign that spans nearly every policy, according to Democratic lawmakers and their devotees.

Over the past few years, the “war on women” trope has been a go-to tactic against the GOP on nearly any piece of legislation, leaving no issue free from the clutches of Republicans’ supposed animosity for women. To the leftist mind, the heart of conservatives’ non-“progressive” views on matters such as immigration reform and climate change is a deep-seated effort to suppress women in one way or another.

#ad#Here’s a look at ten top examples:

1. Pro-life Measures

Abortion-related legislation on both the federal and state levels is sure to cause an outburst of war-on-women claims, whether it’s putting forth a 20-week ban, defunding Planned Parenthood, or enforcing stricter regulation of clinics. For example, in Wisconsin, a state senator compared an ultrasound provision to the Taliban’s treatment of women. Later in the summer, abortion advocates championed Texas state senator Wendy Davis as a feminist George A. Custer in a futile battle against the state’s legislation banning abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation and against increased standards at clinics; Time asked if she was “Cinderella” for state Democrats. Nonetheless, the tactic has had some success: Democrat Terry McAuliffe won the Virginia governorship by almost solely using the “war on women” playbook against Republican Ken Cuccinelli.

2. Obamacare

The Affordable Care Act has served as the main catalyst for the “war on women.” From conservatives’ efforts to protect religious liberty over the contraception mandate (“The GOP’s Women-Hating Obamacare Conscience Clause”) to their reservations over required maternity care in new policies, Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi have framed resistance to the law’s implementation as an “unprecedented assault on women’s rights.” Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has also led the charge, going so far as to say Republicans are “callous and insensitive” toward women and “turning back the clock.” Democrats drummed up the chant heavily during the 2012 presidential campaign and, during the recent government shutdown, briefly revived it as it pertains to Obamacare.

3. Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

Congressional Democrats used the equal-pay bill to bludgeon Republicans for their lack of compassion toward women, despite the Washington Free Beacon’s findings that at least 37 Senate Democrats pay female staffers less than they pay their male coworkers. Representative Jackie Speier (D., Calif.) interpreted Republicans’ opposition to the bill as advocating that “women should be barefoot and pregnant.” Even Republican women aren’t free from the attacks of the Left: Salon’s Joan Walsh condescendingly referred to Representative Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee as “special” for her comments in opposition to the law.

4. Sequester

With the sequester underway earlier this year, Women’s eNews contributor Sharon Johnson provided a list on the Huffington Post of how the automatic budget cuts were waging war on women across a wide range of programs, including transportation services and nutrition centers. Johnson heralded both President Obama’s and Senate Democrats’ efforts while House Republicans sat idly, allowing the sequester to continue to next year, with further cuts to hurt women. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus also claimed that women, along with minorities, would be disproportionately hurt by the sequester.

5. Immigration Reform

Failing to pass immigration reform is further perpetuating the war on women, according to White House adviser Lynn Rosenthal. In a blog post, she said it was “up to Republicans in the House” to pass the Senate’s immigration bill; otherwise, immigrant women without legal status would continue to be at risk of domestic abuse because of their fear of contacting authorities. “I want to make sure immigrant survivors [of domestic abuse] are not forgotten by shedding light on the important ways in which sensible immigration reform that has already passed the Senate will protect victims and hold abusers accountable,” she wrote.

#page#6. Government Shutdown

“Tea Party Republicans hit women with low blows,” Representative Susan Davis (D., Calif.) declared during last month’s government shutdown. Coupling her comments with the usual Obamacare scares, Davis claimed that “taking away women’s access to care was so important to these Republicans” that they were also willing to allow cutbacks to funding for Head Start and the Violence Against Women Act; fellow Californian Barbara Boxer echoed Davis’s comments. For Democrats’ reference, ThinkProgress even came up with a handy listing of “How the GOP shutdown is hurting women.”

#ad#7. Voter ID

Recent voter-ID initiatives launched in states such as North Carolina and Texas have riled up commentators and lawmakers on the left, who claim the measures are efforts to disenfranchise women. MSNBC stalwarts Thomas Roberts and Michael Eric Dyson accused Texas Republicans of enacting such laws to restrict women’s access to the ballot; Dyson went so far as to say the state GOP wants only “white men of means” to vote.

8. Gerrymandering

Writing at RH Reality Check, Adele M. Stan, an editor at AlterNet, chronicled how the Koch brothers have used gerrymandering to spread the “war on women.” One Ohio state senator accused the philanthropists of having “rigged” the system against women’s interests and acting as “thieves in the night” to promote harmful legislation on both a national and a state level.

9. Government-Job Layoffs

Any threats of cuts to government jobs or pay can somehow be posed as an attack on women, including during the government shutdown, even though more than half of the federal workforce is male. When confronted with these charges, Democrats reveal their hypocrisy. For example, unions, lashing out at Democratic Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa last year for waging a “war on women,” said that city layoffs would result in more women losing jobs than men, Villaraigosa brushed the charge aside, calling the claim “so outrageous it doesn’t deserve an answer.”

10. Climate Change

More than a dozen Democrats earlier this year pushed a resolution that called on Congress to recognize that climate change negatively affects women more than it does men. For example, supporters warned that climate change could push women into prostitution if a natural disaster affected food supply: The resolution read that “food insecure women” could find themselves in “situations such as sex work, transactional sex, and early marriage.” In a statement, Representative Barbara Lee (D., Calif.) told The Hill that her resolution called on Congress and the president to use “gender-specific frameworks” and “integrate a gender approach” to address the issue of climate change.

— Andrew Johnson is an editorial associate at National Review Online.

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