Just eight percent of House Republicans are women and there are only four female Republican senators. And apparently, the GOP is starting to realize that this is not a great look for them in 2013. (Not that the Democrats have anywhere close to gender parity in Congress either.) As the National Journal reports, they’ve launched Project GROW (Growing Republican Opportunities for Women) to help the party with its messaging to female voters and recruit more women candidates to run for Congress.
Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway warns that Republican women candidates should avoid being too…womanly. Don’t make an issue of your gender and don’t talk about reproductive rights all the time. She explains:
“There are very few Democratic women who can begin or finish a sentence without mentioning a ‘woman’s right to choose. There is a tremendous opening for the ‘whole women,’ if you will, to step up and run for office as a Republican. … What do you do every week gals, do you fill up the gas tank or do you have an abortion?“
Touché. I do not get a weekly abortion.
However, if I had not been able to get an abortion that one time, gas money would be pretty hard to come by because all my income would be going toward diapers and baby food and preschool. Which is really the irony here: The reason we talk about abortion rights so much is precisely because they are inseparable from economic well-being (as well as mental and physical health and, ya know, self-determination). A woman who struggles to afford gas probably doesn’t have many spare resources to raise an unplanned kid–and her access to an abortion if she needs one may be directly related to her ability to avoid sliding into poverty.
If you consider abortion within the entire context of people’s lives, it becomes impossible to see reproductive rights as something you can just peel off from the rest of the “whole woman.” No matter how convenient that might be for Republicans.