According to recent polls, Barack Obama is trouncing Mitt Romney nationally among likely female voters, and many have pointed to the supposed Republican “War on Women” as the reason for Obama’s lead. Those who argue that the war is real cite examples like the strong Republican opposition to Obama’s proposed contraception reform and the extreme pro-life stances of people like Rick Santorum—who has said that abortion is wrong even in cases of rape and incest—as instances of lawmakers wading too far into women’s issues. Republican efforts to redefine rape to reduce access to abortions, cut funding for Planned Parenthood, hold a hearing on contraception without any female panel members, and (in South Dakota, at least) make it legal to kill doctors who perform abortions have not helped their case with some women, either.
Others argue that the rhetoric is a desperate attempt by the Obama campaign to disparage Republicans and pander to female voters. In an interview that aired this weekend, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus argued that the war on women is as fictional as a “war on caterpillars.”
“If the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars and every mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we’d have problems with caterpillars,” he said.
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, argued on Sunday that Americans need to stop exaggerating political differences, saying that talk of a “war on women” damages the body politic. Likewise, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell called the controversy a “manufactured issue.”
Is there a Republican "War on Women"? Here’s the Debate Club’s take:
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