If you've felt beaten down by the pundits and politicians who pass judgment on women's issues they know little about, you're not alone. Between the uninformed remarks and the restrictive legislation being put forth by Republican lawmakers across the country, it may feel as if women are losing ground daily. Below is a list of key battles being fought and the top issues that fuel the Republican War on Women.
A wave of anti-incumbent sentiment swept Tea Party candidates into office in the 2010 mid-term elections, resulting in a new Republican-controlled House in January 2011. Early on it began to craft legislation aimed at restricting abortion and access to abortion. They determined the easiest way to achieve their goals would be to deny family planning funding under Title X to health care providers that offer abortion services, namely Planned Parenthood. Nancy Pelosi was one of the first to identify this "extreme legislation" as an assault on women's health care.
The Obama administration's August 2011 announcement that contraceptive counseling and FDA-approved contraceptive methods would be included without cost or co-pay as part of the Affordable Care came and went without comment or criticism until we entered into the volatile 2012 election cycle. Suddenly, despite the fact that similar rules had been in place for years, contraceptive coverage became a hot-button issue.
When the Susan G. Komen Foundation announced its intent to stop funding Planned Parenthood's breast cancer screenings, the well-loved and trusted national non-profit not only got a black eye from the public backlash but also saw contributions drop. As the debacle continued, it was revealed that the politically-motivated decision was prompted by a new addition to Komen -- pro-life advocate Karen Handel, a failed candidate for governor of Georgia who had made clear her intent to defund Planned Parenthood if elected and subsequently pursed that agenda as a Komen VP.
When a House committee chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa convened an expert panel to talk about the impact of contraceptive coverage under Obamacare, it was odd to see that those individual most affected by it -- women -- were nowhere in sight at the Congressional hearings.
Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh has earned millions for his ability to draw a large audience and provoke controversy. But he went too far when he attacked Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke for testifying before a congressional hearing (not Issa's) about the need for contraceptive coverage. Calling her a "slut" and a "prostitute" launched a national dialogue and prompted advertisers to drop Limbaugh like a hot potato.
Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan is the most prominent of the new wave of GOP legislators who are so vehemently opposed to abortion that they believe it's better for a woman to bear the baby of the man who violated her than allow her to terminate her pregnancy. His opinion is reflected in the GOP platform which was passed at the 2012 Republican National Convention.
Rep. Todd Akin may have been the first with his embarrassing and uneducated remarks about 'legitimate rape' and a woman's ability to 'shut down' pregnancy as a result of rape. But his comment was only the first in a long string of stomach-turning statements from male candidates who should have known better but didn't.