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The Democrat’s War of Women against Women

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“I can’t understand why any woman would want to vote for Mitt Romney, except maybe Mrs. Romney.” The words came from Democrat and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

The words are part of a great lie being spun out in this election season: Democrats are pro-woman. Indeed, the lie has become a main theme of the Democratic assault on Republicans, who are cast as anti-woman. Is it accurate to say that Democrats are advocates for women? (In fairness, we should note that Republicans are far from laudable on women’s rights, but they do not claim to be the “woman’s Party.”)

Democrat’s claims to be pro-woman

Reproductive choice is the most prominent area in which Democrats make this claim. Certainly the Democratic National Convention (DNC) placed tax-funded abortion and birth control front and center by virtue of its choice of speakers. The list included Cecile Richards, head of Planned Parenthood; Nancy Keenan, head of the National Abortion Rights Action League; and Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown University contraception activist who rose to fame by being attacked by conservative notables.

A common factor among the speakers was the demand, not merely for reproductive choice, but also for tax-funded choice. In other words, they want to force people to pay for strangers’ reproductive care even if those people have deep moral or religious objections to the type of care.

According to a May 2012 Gallup poll, 44 percent of women are pro-choice, and 46 percent are pro-life. This means the Democrats are forcing approximately 50 percent of women to pay for medical procedures that may be deeply repugnant to them. It is more accurate, therefore, to label Democrats as 50 percent pro-woman and 50 percent anti-woman; they are pro-choice depending on whether the woman agrees with their choice.

And yet the Democratic Party’s platform reads, “Abortion is an intensely personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor, and her clergy; there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way.” How is coercing a woman into paying for policies that violate her religion anything other than government getting in between her and “her clergy”?

The demand for tax-funded abortion is so strong, however, that even women within the Democratic Party who disagree become non-persons. An aggregation of Gallup polls from 2008 through 2011 indicates that 30 percent of Democratic women are pro-life. How are they treated? Eva Ritchey, president of the North Carolina Pro-Life Democrats, explains,

I think politically as far as a pro-life Democrat goes on the part of my party, I’d say the war’s on us. I think it’s pretty inaccurate to say we’re a big tent party. I’ve thought about this a lot and we’re really more of a big bus party — and pro-life Democrats are sitting in the back.

It seems that even Democratic women do not quite exist if they hold the “wrong” opinions. (Ironically, at the same time, the larger North Carolina Democratic Party rails against the GOP for trying to “turn back the clock” on women.)

The Democratic Party is using tax-funded abortion and birth control as a filter through which it determines who should be considered a “woman” in a politically meaningful sense. Conservative Meghan Clyne comments in the Weekly Standard (Sept. 10),

By the Democrats’ logic, to oppose abortion on demand and taxpayer-funded contraception is to be ‘anti-woman.’ Womanhood is thus defined by the desire for unrestricted abortion and free birth control; women themselves are reducible to ovaries.

As a result, Democrats champion only liberal women and either demean or ignore the existence of conservative ones — except, of course, to tax them.

And to regulate them. The imposition of radical feminism became more pointed with the implementation of Obamacare’s birth-control mandate, which came into effect on August 1. The mandate forces business owners (including women) with more than 50 employees to provide insurance coverage that includes contraceptives, abortion-related drugs, and sterilization. The mandate helped cement votes from President Obama’s feminist base — at the expense of every businesswoman who objected on moral or financial grounds.

In case reproductive rights appear to be the only area in which Democratic policies aid some women at the expense of others, consider just one other and unrelated policy. On January 29, 2009, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act became the first bill signed into law by President Obama. The act made it easier for women to sue their employers on the grounds of salary discrimination by effectively removing the statute of limitations for such suits.

Every dollar an employer spends on litigation is a dollar removed from production and profitability. In a Heritage Foundation report entitled “The Ledbetter Act: Sacrificing Justice for ‘Fair’ Pay” (Jan. 7, 2009), Andrew Grossman explains how the act could harm some women, rather than protect them, by pushing down their wages and employment. Businesses may shift their practices to avoid lawsuits. Grossman observes that the act “could actually put women, minorities, and workers who are vocal about their rights at a disadvantage if employers attempt to reduce legal risk by hiring fewer individuals likely to file suit against them or terminating those already in their employ.”

Although the act is likely to depress employment opportunities for women, it will not do so for all women across the board. Clyne explains another probable result of the act. It

curtails women’s options: Many women, after all, have their own reasons for taking jobs at lower pay. They might want to price themselves competitively when trying to reenter the job market after raising children; they might take a lower salary in exchange for more flexible hours or working conditions. Lilly Ledbetter restricts their ability to do so.

In short, women who want a job but intend to focus on family will be harmed by the Ledbetter Act; such women tend to be working class. On the other hand, those women who have a career, such as business executives and lawyers, are more likely to benefit (or at least avoid harm), because they are less likely to trade off money for flexibility of time; such women tend to be better educated and upwardly mobile.

Conclusion

The Democratic Party is not pro-woman. It advocates for some women while ignoring the 30 percent of Democratic women and the 46 percent of all American ones who are pro-life. The Democratic Party does so in order to champion a specific type of woman who embodies its vision of a liberal society. (Republicans do the same with their vision of a conservative society.)

The Democrat’s advocacy is rife with contradictions. For example, they decry any restriction on reproductive choice, while, at the same time, they restrict the choice of women who object to participating in abortion.

In the workplace, they penalize female business owners in order to give female employees mandatory insurance coverage for reproductive care. Working-class women are hindered by employment policies that benefit professional ones. Abortion and the workplace are merely two examples of how Democrats take liberty away from some women in order to privilege others.

Democrats have created internal warfare within womanhood itself. In implementing radical feminism, they have forged a war of women against women, in which the interests of some are in direct conflict with the interests of others.

What the DNC needed was a Sojourner Truth moment. Sojourner was an emancipated slave who became a powerful speaker against slavery and for women’s rights. Her most famous speech is “Ain’t I a Woman?” delivered at the 1851 Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio. In it, Sojourner reiterated and defeated the demeaning statements from some men at the convention. For example, she cried out, “That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody helps me any best place. And ain’t I a woman?”

The DNC stage sorely lacked a representative of the women who are being dismissed, demeaned, and harmed by Democratic policies and attitudes. That representative needed to cry out, “Ain’t I a woman?” And the DNC needed to provide an honest answer.

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    Wendy McElroy is an author for The Future of Freedom Foundation, a fellow of the Independent Institute, and the author of The Reasonable Woman: A Guide to Intellectual Survival (Prometheus Books, 1998).