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Anti-abortion laws point to GOP troubles

Posted: July 9, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 9, 2013 2:00 a.m.
 

After they got their clocks cleaned in the 2012 election, the Republican Party held a well-documented post-mortem on their losses: they analyzed how they’d miscalculated so badly and turned off so many different segments of the electorate and tried to figure out how to move forward so they could recapture those lost votes.

Nice to see from the last few weeks that they’ve learned exactly nothing.

From the 5-4 conservative Supreme Court decision that struck down the successful and revered Voting Rights Act, once again infuriating African-Americans, to the Republican-controlled House refusing to hold a vote on the Senate’s immigration bill, once again angering Hispanics, right-wing lawmakers are clinging steadfastly to the outmoded attitudes that lost them the popular vote in five out of the last six presidential elections.

But perhaps their worst move has been a new wave of laws being passed at the state level to severely restrict abortion rights, a gambit that may cost the GOP a whole new generation of women voters — not exactly the brightest strategy when women make up 53 percent of the electorate.

In Arkansas, Republicans passed a law banning abortions after 12 weeks. In North Dakota, a new Republican-backed law outlawed abortions as early as six weeks, making it the most restrictive state in America.

Mississippi passed laws that tried to shut down the state’s sole abortion clinic until a federal judge blocked them.

Most recently, Texas Gov. Rick Perry was thwarted from passing new legislation that would’ve banned abortions after 20 weeks and shut down most abortion clinics in his state, thanks to a courageous eleventh-hour filibuster by state Sen. Wendy Davis.

And last week, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker passed a new law requiring women seeking abortions to undergo a medically unnecessary ultrasound designed to instill guilt and manipulate them into changing their minds.

Wisconsin’s new law also bans doctors who lack admitting privileges at nearby hospitals from performing abortions, forcing women to travel hundreds of miles out of their way to seek one.

You may be wondering, “Why now?” With all of the legitimate and pressing problems facing the country today, how did passing sweeping new laws restricting a woman’s right to choose jump to the top of the list and galvanize Republican lawmakers while they’re still dithering on such matters as job creation, crumbling infrastructure and income inequality?

This becomes doubly puzzling when you consider that Republicans pride themselves on being the party of smaller and less intrusive government, expanding personal freedoms and respecting the sanctity of Constitutional law.

How can the party that advocates smaller, less intrusive government be on the side of expanding the government’s powers to control the reproductive health of every woman in America and forcing them to submit to unnecessary and costly medical procedures at a time when we’re already accumulating massive debt to meet exploding health care costs?

How can the party that believes in expanding personal freedoms pass laws that restrict more than half the population’s personal freedoms, effectively legislating that their bodies and their health care choices are now subject to the whims of the state, whether they like it or not?

How can the party that revers Constitutional law suddenly decide that the Supreme Court can’t be trusted to determine what’s constitutional or not, turning a brazenly blind eye to Roe v. Wade and pass new laws at the state level that flout well-established legal precedent?

From what I can tell, leaders of the Republican Party has no credible answers for the big challenges facing America. For example, they’re still pushing austerity measures to fix the economy when these same measures have devastated Europe and been debunked by top economists, and they’re still pushing for greater military engagement in Syria after a failed and expensive decade in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So they’re doing the only other thing they can do to shore up their waning support: they’re pandering to their extremist base.

In a world where the Republicans have ticked off women, African-Americans, Hispanics, college students, gays and lesbians, union workers and the poor, their electoral pool has evaporated so drastically that only the most hard-core radical elements remain.

The GOP of 2013 is an uneasy alliance of plutocrats who want to stop paying taxes and kill safety regulations so they can hoard more of the wealth at the top, and the embittered working class, religious zealots and gun advocates who feel victimized and fall prey to the propaganda financed by the elite to keep them voting Republican, despite it being against their own best financial interests.

The passing of all these restrictive abortion laws are just a symptom of a more deadly disease: the inevitable and rising demographic tide that threatens the future primacy of the Republican Party.

The future looks increasingly grim for old-school conservatives, so they’re determined to gum things up for progressive causes as much as possible while they still can, either unaware or unconcerned that they’re on the wrong side of history.

Charlie Vignola is a former college Republican turned liberal Democrat. He lives in Fair Oaks Ranch, works in the motion picture industry and loves his wife and kids.

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