PITY THE POOR ESSAYIST, trolling around for the quintessential anecdote for how the GOP has needlessly alienated soccer/security/nom du jour moms in its quest to brand anyone who has ever used contraception with a scarlet S. Do you revisit Rush calling Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” for daring to talk about the need for contraception, including for non-sex-related medical uses? Yes, perfect, though perhaps a better example of what happens when a Beckian blatherskite forgets that advertisers are a fickle lot. Maybe the time when Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) refused to have Fluke—or any woman—appear before his all-male subcommittee on the bishops-versus-birth control fight? Eh, a little procedural. How about the zygote-personhood bills that prompted Oklahoma state Sen. Constance Johnson to offer up an amendment making it illegal to ejaculate anywhere outside a woman’s vagina? Love the nod to Reese Witherspoon’s “reckless abandonment” lawyering in Legally Blonde, but then again, can we privilege that over Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner’s measure to require Viagra users to get a psychological exam? As Turner so thoughtfully noted, “The men in our lives, including members of the General Assembly, generously devote time to fundamental female reproductive issues. The least we can do is return the favor.” And yet, surely props must go to Virginia state Sen. Janet Howell, who kicked off the good-for-the-gander trend back in January, on the occasion of a bill to require women seeking abortions to endure a transvaginal ultrasound: She offered an amendment to force men wanting Viagra to get a rectal exam and a cardiac stress test. It failed by just two votes.
Two votes. In pre-Fluke January. In Virginia. That, and the slow boil over attempts to redefine rape and defund Planned Parenthood, should have been warning enough for Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett to keep his yap shut. But no—Corbett doubled down on transvaginal ultrasound by saying, “You just have to close your eyes.” True, he didn’t add “Just sit back and enjoy it.” And he delicately qualified his support of the mandatory procedure “as long as it’s on the exterior and not the interior,” though it’s perfectly clear that under the bill, “interior” is what most women would get.
Hey, GOP? A bit of simple math: Women are 51 percent of the population and 54 percent of voters. The gender gap between Republicans and Democrats, in presidential elections, has historically ranged from 4 to 11 percent; in Pennsylvania, a key swing state, it was 8 percent in 2008. Fifty-five percent of Americans think abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Sixty-three percent support requiring health plans to include no-cost birth control; 67 percent of independent women do. And a staggering 77 percent of Americans think a petty argument over contraception has no place in the national debate.