Sensing, perhaps, that they are losing the public relations battle after
But, as almost any woman could tell you, the Republican narrative splitting reproductive issues from the "real" issues of jobs and the economy does not square with the actual lives of women. What is more real for most women than the ability to control reproduction and to protect their sexual health? As Jessica Valenti pointed out in a recent piece in the
During the Great Depression, fertility ratios decreased significantly, despite the fact that the Comstock Laws made it difficult to get legal contraception and abortion was illegal throughout the United States. In her book on reproductive politics in the U.S., Rickie Solinger notes that 25-40 percent of all pregnancies were terminated in the 1930s, a steep increase over abortions in the 1920s. Had pollsters inquired, most of those women would undoubtedly also have said that "jobs" were their primary concern, but an unwanted pregnancy can be the tipping point for women and families facing economic hardship.
Even when times are good, a woman who faces multiple unwanted pregnancies during her child-bearing years has little time to appreciate the security that a burgeoning economy with good jobs promises. There is no factor that more strongly correlates with rising educational attainment and economic advancement among women than the new availability of birth control in the 1960s, along with access to safe and legal abortion since the 1960s and 1970s. For most women, contraception is our greatest health concern and expense during our childbearing years. Again, what is more "real" than that? Telling women that their health insurance will cover everything except birth control is like telling a
Republicans try to make the argument that women are not members of a special group, interested only in reproductive issues; rather, they are individuals, concerned like all Americans about jobs and the economy. And yet ultimately, they have repeatedly shown their unwillingness to respect women as individuals who should control their own bodies. By way of marginalizing women's issues, Republicans, who ignored reproductive rights at their own convention, mocked