Annette John-Hall: Sexist views worthy of cave men in election season

Republican Richard Mourdock, candidate for Indiana's U.S. Senate seat, participates in a debate with Democrat Joe Donnelly and Libertarian Andrew Horning in a debate on Tuesday.
Republican Richard Mourdock, candidate for Indiana's U.S. Senate seat, participates in a debate with Democrat Joe Donnelly and Libertarian Andrew Horning in a debate on Tuesday. (MICHAEL CONROY / Associated Press)
Posted: October 26, 2012

Pardon me while I check the calendar to make sure I'm not living in the Stone Age.

I had to double-check, especially after hearing a bunch of cavemen, I mean, politicians, make a mockery over the one issue that's intensely personal and should be politically untouchable - women's reproductive rights.

I mean, hearing these kind of violations on women's health this campaign season, you'd think these guys introduce their wives by hair-dragging them onto the podium.

It all started on the campaign trail earlier this year, when GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, while conceding that pregnancy from rape would be "horrible," counseled: "We have to make the best of a bad situation."

Uh, "we"? Isn't that special.

And how can we forget the indefatigable Todd Akin, the "legitimate rape" senatorial candidate from Missouri?

If only it stopped there.

But no. On Tuesday, during a debate, Indiana senatorial hopeful, Richard Mourdock, the only candidate who managed to land a campaign ad from Mitt Romney, offered his own prehistoric view: "Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that is something God intended to happen."

I'm speechless.

Seems as if there's a dangerous pattern emerging here, and all of the Romney seal flips and ham-fisted "I didn't mean it that way" clarifications by his political cronies don't change the fact that this election has crystallized the choice women have regarding their own health.

We know Romney's position - at least we know it today. He wants to overturn Roe v. Wade, defund Planned Parenthood, and repeal President Obama's signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act - better known as Obamacare. His running mate, Paul Ryan, is even more pro-women. He cosponsored the defeated bill that would give a fetus full personhood rights from the moment of fertilization.

If Romney wants the women's vote so much, why does it feel as if he's charging at us with a bayonet?


Eliminating Obamacare would be disastrous for women on so many levels. Last year, women paid about $1 billion more than men in health-care premiums. Yes, seems that possessing XX chromosomes qualified as a preexisting condition.

Not anymore.

Under Obamacare, health plans can no longer require co-pays and referrals for preventive services like mammographies, pap smears, cervical and ovarian cancer screenings, and contraceptive care.

"Contraceptives is a biggie," says Valerie Arkoosh, professor of clinical anesthesiology at Penn's School of Medicine and president of the National Physicians' Alliance. "Being able to plan a pregnancy is the healthiest thing for a mom and baby."

Threat to safety net

And to think that after 94 years, Planned Parenthood, the venerable organization used by millions of women, would get axed by Romney, leaving a gaping hole in a woman's safety net, says Dayle Steinberg, chair of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates.

Planned Parenthood is the one reliable place women can go for counseling and emergency contraception. And while the organization does do abortion procedures (which the federal government does not fund), those services account for only 5 percent of everything Planned Parenthood does.

"Cutting off birth control for those who absolutely need it would be disastrous," Steinberg says. "Romney and Ryan are against abortion, but they want to cut access to birth control. So what are you supposed to do?"

And yet the women's-vote-begging duo still support their Republican rape experts.

"This is exactly why you don't want a bunch of politicians, mostly male, making decisions about women's health care," President Obama said on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Wednesday.

I'm guessing a whole lot of disgusted women will express their displeasure, too, at the ballot box.

Contact Annette John-Hall

at 215-854-4986,,

or on Twitter @Annettejh.

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