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Charm (That's Just Plain) Offensive: GOP's Plan to Be Nice to Women Falls Flat

Recently, Dante Atkins reported for the Daily Kos about the "new" Republican strategy for dealing with their problem engaging with women. The remedy for the widespread perception among women that GOPers are intolerant, lacking in compassion and don't understand women's concerns, according to Republican strategists, is "to 'go on offense' on women's issues."

Unfortunately, however, it seems so many GOP pols have misunderstood and believe that they should instead just continue being offensive, a skill they have thoroughly mastered.

What comes more naturally to the angry, old white men of the GOP than hard-breathing, red-faced hectoring, especially when dealing with uppity women. And it's true, too, that the women in the Republican party often seem to be little more than Palinesque angry white men wannabes – even when, as in the case of Ann Wagner, they try to hide harsh policies by describing them with lots of warm and fuzzy words.

Think Todd Akin was bad? Consider Rep. Vicky Hartzler. She declared last January that women should be forced to carry pregnancies to term because abortion "robs men of the privilege of fatherhood." Gives you an idea about who it is that matters in GOPland – and it isn't women.

Which brings us to today's vote by the Republican-dominated Missouri legislature to override Governor Jan Nixon's veto of HB1307. This bill will, 30 days from today, increase the waiting time for an abortion from 24 hours to 72 hours after the initial appointment with a doctor – with no exception for victims of rape or incest.

Is this going "on offense" or just plain offensive? Many Missourians are convinced it's the latter:

According to a recent Public Policy Polling survey, eight out of ten Missourians are concerned the 72-hour waiting period intrudes on women's private medical decisions, and most of them agreed with the governor's decision to veto it.

The Roosevelt Institute notes that waiting periods are among the types of restrictions on abortion that, ironically, result in "more unplanned pregnancies, more abortions, and more abortions occuring later in pregnancy":

The Guttmacher Institute reports that already seven in 10 women who had a second-trimester abortion wanted to do so earlier in pregnancy but were unable to because they could not afford it. Economists who study family planning policy argue that the costs a woman seeking an abortion faces do not only come in the form of dollars, but also in the time required to access an abortion. A 2001 study by Marianne Bitler and Madeline Zavodny shows that state restrictions that impose mandatory waiting periods (in other words, a time cost) also delay abortions into the second trimester. A 1994 study of Mississippi's mandatory delay laws showed a 17 percent jump in second trimester abortions after the law took effect.

Nevertheless, despite its intrusiveness and the potential for unintended consequences, the bill's sponsor, Rep. Kevin Elmer (R-139), said that he believes this highly offensive legislation would be the "the pinnacle of his legislative career." He, after all, believes that "life begins at conception," which is unintelligible gibberish unless interpreted in a religious context which many of us do not share, and which should not be forced upon us just to give the fuddish Elmer and his fanatical cohorts their self-righteous jollies.

If this typical GOP soundbite doesn't offend  you, just consider the comments of Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger (R-108) about a similar but even more restrictive bill, HB1613, that was also considered by the legislature this year. (The bill incidentally, was much worse – among its many reprehensible provisions was one that would have forced doctors to lie to women and tell them that abortion could cause cancer – a claim that has no scientific support.)

While discussing the rationale for that bill, Gatschenberger indicated that he believes women shop for abortions in the same way that he goes about buying a new car or some carpet for his house:

Well, yesterday, I went over to the car lot over here. I was just going to get a key made for a vehicle. And I was looking around because I'm considering maybe buying a new vehicle. Even when I buy a new vehicle-this is my experience, again-I don't go right in there and say I want to buy that vehicle, and then, you know, you leave with it. I have to look at it, get information about it, maybe drive it, you know, a lot of different things. Check prices. There's lots of things that I do, putting into a decision. Whether that's a car, whether that's a house, whether that's any major decision that I put in my life. Even carpeting. You know, I was just considering getting some carpeting or wood in my house. And that process probably took, you know, a month, because of just seeing all the aspects of it.

Maybe, given the raw material they've got to work with, GOP strategists ought to drop the whole "offense" idea. The concept is perhaps a bit too vague for nitwits to apply effectively, rendering it dangerous for the GOP.

And in the meantime, all rational women need to remember just who it is that thinks that they – and their doctors – aren't smart enough to know what they need and when they need it. 

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