Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Republicans vs. Birth Control or Why the GOP is Going to Lose in 2008

From The Baltimore Sun:

The quiet campaign against birth control

At National Right to Life's conference this year, Mitt Romney set out to convince anti-abortion leaders he was their candidate. At the podium, he rattled off his qualifications. To a layman's ears, it sounded pretty standard for abortion politics. He wants to overturn Roe v. Wade. He supports teaching only abstinence to teens.

But for those trained to hear the subtleties, Mr. Romney was acknowledging something more. He implied an opposition to the birth control pill and a willingness to join in their efforts to scale back access to contraception. There are code phrases to listen for - and for those keeping score, Mr. Romney nailed each one.

One code phrase is: "I fought to define life as beginning at conception rather than at the time of implantation." The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists defines pregnancy as starting at implantation, the first moment a pregnancy can be known. Anti-abortion advocates want pregnancy to start at the unknown moment sperm and egg meet: fertilization. They'd also like you to believe, despite evidence to the contrary, that the birth control pill prevents that fertilized egg from implanting in the womb.

Mr. Romney's code, deciphered, meant, "I, like you, hope to reclassify the most commonly used forms of contraceptives as abortions."

Presidential hopeful Sen. Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas, beefed up his anti-contraception resume by co-sponsoring a bill to de-fund the nation's largest contraception provider, Planned Parenthood, by excluding it from Title X family planning for the poor. Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain's campaign officials boast he has "consistently voted against taxpayer-funded contraception programs." And Mr. McCain reports that his adviser on sexual-health matters is Sen. Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, who leads campaigns claiming condoms are unsafe and opposing emergency contraception.

Another presidential candidate, Rep. Tom Tancredo, like Mr. Romney, has ventured far into the "contraception-is-abortion" territory. According to Mr. Tancredo, a Colorado Republican, emergency contraception "cheapens human life and simply uses a woman's body to dispose of the child instead of a doctor."

The American public is unaware of the new wave of anti-contraception activism by opponents of abortion, which makes it much easier for politicians to appease the anti-contraception base. Take, for example, President Bush. While he has delivered some big anti-abortion victories for the religious right in the last seven years (Supreme Court Justices John G. Roberts Jr. and Samuel A. Alito Jr., and the so-called partial-birth abortion ban), anti-contraception work has taken up more of his energy. He attempted to strip contraceptive coverage for federal employees; appointed anti-birth control leader David Hager to the FDA panel that approves and expands access to contraceptive methods; chose another contraception opponent to oversee the nation's contraceptive program for the poor; defunded international family-planning programs, and invested unprecedented sums into sex-ed programs that prohibit mention of contraception.

For now, the candidates vying for the Right to Life endorsement are doing their best to avoid directly answering mainstream voters' simple questions on the subject, such as, "Do you support couples having access to safe and effective birth control options, including emergency contraception?" Considering that even 80 percent of self-described "pro-life" voters and a majority of Republican voters strongly support contraception, it's no wonder why.
full article

Now any reasonable person realizes how ludicrous the idea of getting rid of birth control is. Period. But the fact that GOP hopefuls are willing to court the extremists of their party by deception shows some of the very real problems the GOP is facing. First there's the honesty factor. Romney implying that he's anti-contraception is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. He never came out and said it. He just led them to believe he did. It seems that every candidate has an issue they treat like that when it comes to competing for the base. (Imagine Hillary speaking at PETA meetings implying "meat is murder" and you start to see my point.)

The sad fact is that currently the GOP actually needs that subsection of votes because the war in Iraq and a handful of other issues has caused it to hemorrhage moderates and independents thereby leaving more a more socially conservative Republican party. By being forced to endorse positions that they may not actually believe in they are shooting themselves in the foot by making themselves appear to hold positions not held by the majority and simply put this current batch of front runners aren't good liars (I think Giuliani could lie with the best of them but he's using the "I was there on 9/11" strategy so he doesn't have to.)

I really believe as long as the GOP keeps pandering to its base it is going to be relegated to the minority party until the Dems royally screw up and I'm guessing it'll be eight years of Dem control before that happens.

h/t The Gun Toting Kitten