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"Women are really being used as political bargaining chips," says Adrienne Kimmell, executive director of the Barbara Lee Family Foundation in Boston.


The last straw may have been one of the least surprising: House passage of a bill, pushed by Indiana Republican Mike Pence, to deny all federal Title X funding for family-planning services.

Title X funding has been included in federal budgets with little controversy for four decades, but would be zeroed out — to the tune of more than $300 million — under the bill.

That would effectively end subsidies for birth-control pills and related doctor's visits — handing an annual price tag of up to $1000 to low-income women who can't afford it, Smeal says.

Title X also provides low-income women with cervical-cancer screening and testing for STDs.

Another Pence amendment specifically denies all federal funding to Planned Parenthood, currently the largest recipient of Title X funds, and the leading provider of family-planning and reproductive-health services for low-income women.

At the Kennedy School appearance last week, Cantor was asked about the defunding of Planned Parenthood. He claimed it was not ideological, but a reaction to revelations that the organization "was engaged in some very ugly tactics, and some very bad things," which made funding it "unacceptable."

This refers to a gotcha video, released a month ago, purporting to show Planned Parenthood employees advising a pimp on getting abortions for his underage sex workers. (One employee in New Jersey has been fired as a result.)

But that is not the real impetus for the bill — which is merely a resubmission of what Pence tried to pass in 2009. That was long before the videos, but got near-unanimous GOP support. Back then, there were not enough Republicans to win the floor vote (even with 20 Democrats voting with them). But after the November elections gave the GOP a majority, the bill's passage became almost inevitable.

Cantor's pinning the vote on the gotcha videos is telling, for two reasons. On one hand, it suggests that he realizes that defunding family-planning services is too unpopular to defend on its own merits.

But on the other, it shows how driven the Republican Party is by the nuttiest, fact-free wing of its conservative base. That group believes the gotcha videos circulating on the Web, and the conspiracies they supposedly revealed. They also believe Glenn Beck's attempts in recent months to tar Planned Parenthood with the racist writings of its founder Margaret Sanger — in fact, legislators backing the "prenatal murder" bill in Georgia claim they are doing so to stop Planned Parenthood's goal of eliminating the black race.

The entire Republican US House caucus recently voted unanimously to end federal funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), on the grounds that it promotes forced abortion and sterilization in China — an Internet myth that has been repeatedly debunked over the years, but that survives in extreme pro-life circles, and apparently in the US House majority.


Official Democratic Party strategists, who want to keep the focus on jobs and the economy, have been reluctant to push these "social issues." But facing this wide-ranging threat, women's organizations are done waiting, and are coordinating to draw national attention to the issue — under the banner of a Republican war on women.

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7 Comments / Add Comment

Tracey Foster

PBS's TO THE CONTRARY panel this past Sunday discussed the GOP's all out war on women and many of the points you have covered, David, and you are so right on target. It is a shame that the GOP believes that in order to rid the nation of the trillion dollar debt that they originally put America into, programs that assist women must be slashed or just flat out eliminated. More attention needs to called to this injustice. Thank you for covering this important subject.
Posted: March 02 2011 at 6:47 PM


The more equal footing that the Obama administration gives to women; i.e. the number of women appointed to key roles in his administration, the Lily Leadbetter Act, etc. The more the GOP tries to put us back 100 years.
Posted: March 02 2011 at 9:37 PM


This is wrong, the cutbacks have been to both genders. The redefining of Rape is there because there are a few loopholes that incarcerate innocent Men. Again the salary cutbacks are for both genders. Stop pulling this Gender card.
Posted: March 03 2011 at 5:27 AM


Why should women be unhappy about liberalizing gun policies? All gun control does is stop women from defending themselves. Pro 2nd Amendment = Pro Woman.
Posted: March 03 2011 at 3:34 PM

Sara Rockefeller

Wow... The the GOP ideology is attacking women!! This article is laughable. The GOP's agenda is smaller government ...but the spin was very funny. Stay tuned for the next edition of the Providence Phoenix-- "Labor unions and how they brought wealth and prosperity to Providence" ----You guys should really stick with reviewing up and coming local bands
Posted: March 03 2011 at 4:51 PM


Well, there you go!
The previous 5 comments could be more diverse. Does EVERYONE now understand how confused this country is? Everyones interpretations of what has been said by the politicians is so different. How can we possibly pull together when there are excesses/rational/misinterpretations of all media news which can't possibly end in a consensus that will help this country???????? Once again the folks in power want to be right, not righteous!
Posted: March 04 2011 at 5:52 PM


I guess having herpes/HIV/HPV is not the end of the world. I'm living with HIV positive for 2 years. I was upset at the beginning.
A std support site Positivemate,,com helps me find useful, up-to-date information for lots of warm-hearted people..No rejection or discrimination. We're not alone.
Posted: March 06 2011 at 9:37 PM
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