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"Our groups are fighting this like there's no tomorrow," Smeal says.

Planned Parenthood is already running radio ads in targeted congressional districts. NOW, both nationally and its state chapters, have begun putting out press releases and action alerts, as have EMILY's List and others.

Not everyone is convinced that the threat is so dire. These skeptics note that the Democratic-led US Senate, not to mention President Barack Obama, will stop all of the federal measures from ever becoming law, and that the more egregious state measures, once exposed, have usually been stopped in their tracks.

In fact, some suggest to the Phoenix that women's groups are doing more or less what conservative lawmakers are guilty of. Republicans, they say, are championing these measures to placate and energize their base; and women's groups are seizing on that to raise money off a false perception of emergency.

There may be some truth to that. But Pingree, and others, say the threat is real.

"It's an extremely serious time for people to get engaged," Pingree says. "This is serious — people are proposing a world we don't want to raise our children in."

"This particular economic climate, and this particular set of lawmakers, is unlike anything we've ever seen before," says Namey.

Bennett argues that Democrats can't be counted on to save the day — as evidenced by bipartisan passage of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment last year, adding harsh abortion restrictions to the health-care reform bill.

Others agree; in fact, Planned Parenthood's ads are targeting Democrats more than Republicans.

Plus, these women fear that Republicans are pushing measures so extreme that, even with concessions made along the way, there will be plenty left to show for their efforts in the end. For instance, perhaps Pence and the GOP won't get away with fully defunding Title X, but their final bill would still include significant cuts and restrictions, even after an eventual compromise.

And Democrats will be more likely to make such a bargain if nobody is putting loud public pressure on them to hold the line.


At stake in all this is not just women's rights, but also their votes.

As popular as these GOP initiatives are among a small core of conservatives, they are unpopular among the vast majority of voters. Polls show very little support for restricting family-planning services, for instance, or for defunding cervical cancer screenings.

Republicans are counting on these measures receiving very little attention among the general public — especially women, whose votes they are trying to woo.

In recent years, women — especially younger, single, and professional women — have been voting increasingly Democratic. That gender gap was largely responsible for Democratic gains in 2006 and 2008.

Last year, however, exit polls showed women splitting their vote equally for the two parties — a result that, if it continues, would almost guarantee long-term Republican majorities.

Interestingly, one of the ways the GOP tried to win that women's vote last year was by emphasizing the Republican women running for office. They even dubbed 2010 the "Year of Republican Women," and got much of the media to follow suit.

But in fact, the vast majority of those candidates lost, leaving women still pitifully underrepresented in the party — just 10 percent of Republican members of Congress, for instance.

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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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