Littwin: See that? Republicans all about abortion, again

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s you know, Sen. Mark Uterus is no longer in the Senate. In losing to Cory Gardner last November, Mark, uh, Udall was mocked for his singleminded single-issueness in running all those TV ads defending women’s reproductive rights, which he insisted were under attack.

You may remember the commercials. If you do, you almost certainly wish you didn’t. Udall was mocked because, it turned out, no one except Udall and some other losing Democrats were talking about abortion and/or birth control. Republicans, if you recall, weren’t saying a word.

And so, what happens? Elections are over. Republicans win. Congress is back in session. And somebody turns off the mute button, meaning that everyone is talking about abortion again.

It may not surprise you to learn that this was all part of the plan, or as Dana Milbank put it in the Washington Post, a bait and switch.

[pullquote]Elections are over. Republicans win. Congress is back in session. Somebody turns off the mute button and everyone’s talking about abortion.[/pullquote]

What I mean, and what voters should have foreseen, was that the House would jump-start the 2015 session with something called the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. There are exceptions for rape, but only if the woman has reported the rape to the police. And there are exceptions for minors who are victims of incest, but only if the assault had been reported.

In other words, a woman seeking an abortion after 20 weeks would have to bring a note not from her doctor, but from her local cop.

This is not exactly a new twist, but it is one that captured everyone’s attention. We’ve gone from legitimate rape to rape that is rape only when it is reported as rape. Under this bill, which passed the House in 2013 with the exact same wording, women who say they were raped, but didn’t report the assault, are presumed to not be telling the truth.

Does that work for you? No? Well, it didn’t work for many of the Republican women in the House, who got GOP leaders to pull the bill. Some of those women had voted for the bill before, which tells you something. Having majorities in both the House and the Senate means that bills coming out of the House might actually matter and that votes don’t necessarily come free.

Pulling the bill was a major embarrassment, of course. The bill was timed to kick off a Washington anti-abortion march. They held the march, which was to mark the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, but the House didn’t provide the expected accompanying music for the latest round in the culture wars, which are playing out again in legislatures across America, including Colorado’s.

And so it seems Udall was right after all. Congressional Republicans couldn’t wait to go after abortion, and they threw in rape just for old times. And maybe you’re saying this was the House, not the Senate, but you may want to note that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had already said he would take up the bill once it passed the House (although, we’re told, it would never get past a Senate filibuster). Everyone gets a share of the blame here.

If the bill had passed, newly elected Sen. Cory Gardner would have had to vote on it, but it turns out he was spared. It would have been an early test of Gardner’s ability to play the role of Senate moderate. Instead, the ghost of Todd Akin suddenly appeared on the House floor, and that was that. Actually, it was the living presence of most of the congresswomen in the House who switched off their own mute buttons and told leadership that they must be nuts. Why not just call the bill “The Elect Hillary Clinton Act”?

According to the polls, opposing late-term abortions is a winning political move. Of course, most people have no idea that only 1 percent of abortions come after 20 weeks. But the rape question is an entirely different matter. The strange thing is that the Republicans somehow missed that distinction, which seems to be part of a trend.

It has been a strange few months since the Republicans slammed the Democrats in the midterms. Ever since, Barack Obama has been slamming Republicans in the post-election, pre-2016 campaign. Obama has owned the headlines and gotten a large bump in his approval ratings while Republicans, with their new and improved majorities, can’t seem to get out of their own way.

This is how Charlie Dent — a Republican congressman from Pennsylvania — described the start: “Week one, we had a speaker election that didn’t go the way that a lot of us wanted it to. Week two, we were debating deporting children, and again, not a conversation a lot of us wanted to have then. And week three, we’re now debating rape and abortion — again, an issue that most of us didn’t campaign on or really wanted to engage on at this time. And I just can’t wait for week four.”

Anticipation is obviously running high. It may be the one area where Republicans and Democrats actually agree.


  1. What is lost in all of this is the fact that Udall lost his reelection campaign and Cory Gardner won. The objection to the bill by the Republican women was NOT about banning abortion after 20 weeks. It was about the provision that only women who had reported a rape would be eligible for federal funding for an abortion.

    The Democrats are not examining why they lost so overwhelmingly and columnists like Littwin are not helping. This is what the Democrats should be focusing on, particularly in Colorado with Gardner.

    1) The focus on abortion limitation is designed, not to stop abortions, it is to limit/destroy the financial base of Planned Parenthood, one of the major funders of Democratic candidates.
    2) Gardner was never asked if he would vote for the “Life Begins at Conception” legislation that he sponsored and which, predictably, died in committee with the last Congress. This has been the pattern with the Republicans since 1983. The NEVER vote on any bill that would absolutely ban abortions.
    3) The goal of the Republicans is to pass a law that would be appealed up to the Supreme Court and hope that the court would use it to overturn Roe. That would return the whole issue of abortion to the states, where the Republicans have tremendous political power, and keep the controversy alive indefinitely raising money and energizing the base.
    4) Many Republicans, like Gardner, called for OTC birth control. But NO ONE of our “brilliant” strategists or columnists ask them, Gardner in Colorado, if they supported the OTC Plan B, which is considered a pill to force an very early abortion and figured prominently in the “Little Sisters of the Poor” successful challenge to the birth control mandate.
    5) Does the bill that allowed all federal funding for abortion, that was passed by the House, include the mandated exception for incest, rape, and the life or health of the mother? That is the REAL bill, because it is the one that could go to the SCOTUS and get Roe overturned.

    Other than all of this, Mike, a “great” article.

    5) Did the bill that outlawed all federal funding for abortion and did pass the House contained the Court mandated exception for incest, rape, and the life and health of the mother?

  3. The Teabaghead/Republikkklan Party is firmly dedicated to the most reactionary and regressive positions possible; and that’s that! Whatever cosmetic efforts they might make to hide this simple fact remain just that also, nothing more than cosmetics – such as lipstick on the pig.

    The simple format of this claque’s legislative antics up to now has been – and remains(!) today – the concerted effort to keep Barack Obama a “One Term President”.

    As a political entity, Teabaghead/Republikkklanism has no ability whatsoever to come to terms with the REALITY of the 21st Century; just as it never even tried to come to terms with the REALITY of the 20th Century. And, perhaps the most useless, worthless, good for nothing waste of time possible is attempting to deal rationally with these superstitiously ignorant, and arrogantly stubbornly stupid, old men – and their patronized womenfolk – as if they were capable of governing our Nation. A single example right here in Colorado might serve to further illustrate that point: An insignificant little backwoods, backward, TV clown, calling himself “Dr. Chaps” – and posing as some kind of “expert” on “exorcism” – has already introduced a bill in the Cowlorado Legislature to “outlaw – or criminalize – abortion”. Never mind the U.S. Supreme Court, and its Roe vs. Wade Decision, made decades ago. Just turn the clock back to the good old days of the back alley coat hanger; and “get right with “god” – or whatever little tribal idol, created I the image and likeness of “Dr. Chaps” he intends to thrust down the throats of the intelligent and rational people in the State.

    And, that’s the next two (2) years, in a nutshell – the nut providing the theme.

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