November of 2010 Republicans were flying high, doing very well in the midterm elections by wooing independents and suburban women with a message of fiscal discipline.
Since then, it seems like national Republicans are trying to piss off everyone but rich white men. They have gone after a major voting block in Latinos by demonizing illegal immigration and rejecting the DREAM Act; it has implicitly gone after blacks (not a block they had a chance at wooing in large numbers with Barack Obama as President) with its continued failure to stand up to "birthers," which many people, regardless of race, find not so veiled racist overtones. The party went after unions, ironically pissing off many of the people who got them elected just weeks before. Recently, baby boomers and the elderly have had to listen closely to Republican proposals to privatize Medicare- making recipients have to shell out thousands of dollars more for the same coverage. Until very recently, the only people exempt from Republican cross hairs were rich white men and women.
You can take women off the list as the GOP is going after them too. In Indiana, Governor Mitch Daniels is playing politics at the expense of women. Earlier this week, Gov. Daniels signed legislation prohibiting Planned Parenthood in Indiana from receiving federal funding. The Indiana law bars federal funding for "any entity that performs abortion or maintains or operates a facility where abortions are performed."
In signing the legislation, Governor Daniels said: "Any organization affected by this provision can resume receiving taxpayer dollars immediately by ceasing or separating its operations that perform abortions."
The first reason why the legislation hurts Indiana women is that it completely ignores the mission of Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood provides various health services to women. Planned Parenthood provides women cancer screenings and family planning guidance. Planned Parenthood provides Pap smears, breast exams, STD checks, and basic reproductive health to its patients- the vast majority of them being low-income women. Nationally, abortions make up less than 3% of Planned Parenthood services.
The legislation also hurts because federal law already prohibits abortion providers from using tax dollars, including Medicaid money, for abortion services. So if federal law already prohibits the use of tax dollars for abortions, why cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood? Indiana Right to Life Legislative Director Sue Swayze concedes that federal law prohibits public funds paying directly for abortions. But she says the fact that taxpayer dollars support Planned Parenthood, a group that performs abortions, is unacceptable, which is a sentiment Daniels echoes.
And because the law exempts hospitals, the law's purpose of the law is to gut Planned Parenthood, which Swayze views as "the face of abortions."
Ultimately, the bill hurts women in the state of Indiana and restricts their access to health care.
Unfortunately, Republicans have again done what they do best: show that they have little empathy for people NOT earning over $150,000 a year, with good medical insurance with money saved in a 401(k) (rather than a pension system). Unfortunately, this latest bill does nothing to help the single mother who lost her job and was going to Planned Parenthood for preventative health, like breast exams and Pap smears.
The only question is whether women will remember this come 2012? If women remember, along with union workers, Latinos, Medicare recipients, and whoever else the GOP manages to piss off in the next 18 months, the pendulum will swing back to the left even faster than it swung to the right in 2010.