The Corner

How About Those Women Who Support the So-Called ‘War on Women’?

New York Times columnist Nick Kristof’s column today is all about how if you love women, you’ll vote for President Obama:

IN this year’s campaign furor over a supposed “war on women,” involving birth control and abortion, the assumption is that the audience worrying about these issues is just women.

Give us a little credit. We men aren’t mercenaries caring only for Y chromosomes. We have wives and daughters, mothers and sisters, and we have a pretty intimate stake in contraception as well. . . .

To me, actually, talk about a “war on women” in the United States seems a bit hyperbolic: in Congo or Darfur or Afghanistan, I’ve seen brutal wars on women, involving policies of rape or denial of girls’ education. But whatever we call it, something real is going on here at home that would mark a major setback for American women — and the men who love them.

On these issues, Mitt Romney is no moderate. On the contrary, he is considerably more extreme than President George W. Bush was. He insists, for example, on cutting off money for cancer screenings conducted by Planned Parenthood.

The most toxic issue is abortion, and what matters most for that is Supreme Court appointments. 

It’s worth pointing out a fact that’s been widely overlooked this election: more women are pro-life than pro-choice, according to 2012 Gallup polling.

It’s a small difference: 46 percent of women are pro-life, compared to 44 percent who are pro-choice. But doesn’t that mean, by the Left’s logic, that the real war on women is being waged by male politicians who refuse to respect women’s wishes to restrict abortion?

Or at the very least, how can you call something a “war on women” when more women than not agree with the position being fought for?

Now to be fair, Kristof is writing about more than just abortion. But according to a 2011 Gallup poll, 37 percent of women support banning federal funds for abortion providers. And 33 percent of women support overturning Roe v. Wade, according to a 2008 Gallup poll.

And if we’re going to talk about who’s out of touch with women voters, how about the fact that Obama has refused to ban partial-birth abortion, something 62 percent of women would like to see banned?

So why do women need Planned Parenthood so desperately? Well, for cancer screenings, writes Kristof:

Romney has boasted that he would cut off all money for Planned Parenthood — even though federal assistance for the organization has nothing to do with abortions. It pays for such things as screenings to reduce breast cancer and cervical cancer.

Here is what Planned Parenthood definitely doesn’t do: offer mammograms. You can listen to Planned Parenthood employees, one after another, tell Eliana Johnson she can’t get a mammogram at their clinics. And if you want a mainstream source, the Washington Post’s fact checker wrote last month that “Planned Parenthood does not perform mammograms or even possess the necessary equipment to do so.”

So why not ask Romney, if you are really worried about the availability of cancer screening, to pledge to move the money being given to Planned Parenthood by the federal government, to clinics that do offer mammograms, with a special emphasis on those that serve low-income neighborhoods? I posed this question to Kristof on Twitter, after a couple of back and forths, and there was no immediate response.


Kristof is also concerned about Romney’s views on funding international groups:

Romney also wants to reinstate the “global gag rule,” which barred family planning money from going to aid organizations that even provided information about abortion. He would cut off money for the United Nations Population Fund, whose work I’ve seen in many countries — supporting contraception, repairing obstetric fistulas, and fighting to save the lives of women dying in childbirth.

I’m sure the U.N. Population Fund does plenty of great work. But that doesn’t mean it’s an organization that’s never done wrong. From a statement made by Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in 2011:

“But instead of condemning China’s behavior, UNFPA not only supports China’s coercive ‘One Child’ policy, but commends it as a ‘model’ for population programs across the globe. In 1999, a UNFPA representative stated: ‘China has had the most successful family planning policy in the history of mankind in terms of quantity, and with that, China has done mankind a favor.’

“Now, U.S. law is clear. The Kemp-Kasten amendment, first enacted in 1984, states that U.S. assistance cannot be provided to any organization that ‘supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.’ . . .

“Pursuant to this amendment, three previous Administrations have stopped assistance to UNFPA. Justifying this cutoff of assistance, then–Secretary of State Colin Powell stated in 2002 that: ‘UNFPA’s support of, and involvement in, China’s population-planning activities allows the Chinese government to implement more effectively its program of coercive abortion. Therefore, it is not permissible to continue funding UNFPA at this time.’

“The State Department has repeatedly found that UNFPA refuses to provide detailed information on its activities in China. In December of 2010, the vice-minister of China’s National Population and Family Planning Commission thanked UNFPA for ‘its constant support to China’s population and family planning undertakings during the past thirty years and more.’ UNFPA continues business as usual, and last year, it approved another 5-year operational plan for China. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration has failed to enforce U.S. law, claiming that the Kemp-Kasten Amendment does not apply to UNFPA. Accordingly, Congressional action is necessary to prevent U.S. taxpayer dollars from continuing to benefit UNFPA, in contravention of U.S. law.

“I would note that, while some will claim that UNFPA does not use U.S. funding for its programming in China, we all know that money is fungible. Directing U.S. funding to UNFPA activities in other areas of the world simply frees up other funding for their China program.”

Kristof is also upset that Romney intends to “eliminate Title X family planning funding” because “about half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which conducts research on reproductive health. “

One, it’s not clear whether contraception access reduces abortion rates; Michael New did a great analysis of a recent study that purported to find that here. Furthermore, even if you believe contraception will lead to lower abortion rates, why does it need to be provided by the government? Eating more fruits and veggies, and fewer candy, would also probably help health outcomes, as would everyone having a gym in their backyard. But we don’t ask the government to pay for that.

You know what has really caused a setback for women? The fact that the unemployment rate for women, four years after the economy started going into the gutter, remains at 7.2 percent. The fact that many of them can’t send their children to decent schools because so many Democrats refuse to provide real competition to failing public schools by embracing charter schools and/or vouchers. The fact that despite living in such an enlightened country, we can’t pass a bill that would ban abortions of girls just because they are girls.

Many, many women in the United States would like to see abortion restrictions. They would like our culture to become one that protects and embraces life, not purges it. They would like us to become a society that respects the rights of the smallest and most vulnerable. They would like us to become a nation that shows compassion for both the unborn child and his or her mother, as she goes through the stress and trauma of an unintended pregnancy.

Isn’t it a war on these women that their views are rarely recognized, much less respected, by the pundit class?

Katrina Trinko — Katrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...

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