It really does seem like anything goes this election season.
The controversy over the HHS mandate requiring “free” coverage of contraceptive services — and the recent hearing on religious liberty — has breathed new life into the already tired Democratic message that Republicans are waging “war on women.” (Read what I’ve already written about it here.)
Leading the charge for the Democratic Party is Rep. Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.), who yesterday signed a fundraising letter for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that is absolutely absurd:
When Republicans refused to allow any women to testify on a panel about women’s healthcare, I knew I had to say what everyone was thinking: "Where are the women?"…
We cannot allow Republicans to deny us the right to talk about women’s healthcare.
Your contributions will be put to work immediately to throw out anti-women Republicans across the country.
Will you stand up against the Republican War on Women before Wednesday’s deadline?
Let’s be clear, this was a hearing on religious liberty — not women’s health. And groups that were invited were free to send any representative they chose. No women were denied participation in the hearing — and conveniently left out of the story by Maloney, two women did in fact speak on the second panel. Of course, Maloney missed that when she and D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) marched out of the hearing in protest.
While it might have been a GOP public-relations mistake (obviously it doesn’t take too much of a stretch of the imagination to imagine this media debacle playing out), this was far from a concerted Republican attack on women. IWF senior fellow Charlotte Hays said it perfectly: “Democrats know that contraception wasn’t the issue at the hearing, but they are determined to pretend that it was.”
It’s no surprise that Democratic rhetoric about Republicans has become increasingly charged since the 2010 midterm elections, when the GOP narrowly closed the gender gap; but Democrats are wrong to think that playing gender politics will win them women’s hearts and votes come November.
Female voters know there is not a Republican effort to deprive them of birth control. This is a debate over constitutional rights, freedom and the ability for Washington to mandate that an individual purchase or sell something against his or her will.
The worst thing lawmakers can do right now is continue talking about “women’s issues.” Instead, Democrats should put a halt to the “war” drama and instead focus on the policies that really matter to women — the size and scope of government, repealing and replacing this hideous healthcare law, and tax and regulatory reform to encourage economic growth.
Sabrina L. Schaeffer is executive director of the Independent Women’s Forum.