NEW YORK, March 10, 2013 — President Obama’s 2012 lead over independent voters in swing States speaks volumes about the GOP’s on-going effort to win more female and minority votes. Among millions of female voters, there remain significant reservations regarding Roe v. Wade and the controversies surrounding it. These lead them to wonder whether GOP policy makers will support the rights of women to make their own abortion-related decisions, and ultimately whether Republican politicians can be individually pro-life and yet leave any room for their female constituents to have access to abortion services.
Former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) suggested at the Tampa GOP convention last year that Republican state party leaders and elected officials should begin to think about relaxing the language of the GOP’s perceived aggressive platform opposing a woman’s rights to choose. He suggested that the GOP might abandon pursuit of a constitutional amendment choose instead to focus on banning the practice of late term abortions. Pro-choice conservatives argue that the push for a total ban fails to recognize the legitimate interests of women to have some legal access to abortion, and its perceived punitive harshness drives away women who are conservative on a large majority of social and economic issues.
Republican opposition to abortion often carries over to a hostility toward family planning services and birth control. Many conservative critics of the Republican Party platform have argued that when a woman seeks birth control measures, she is actually acting on the conservative principle of self-accountability. The use of birth control requires a woman to take responsibility for her own actions. If those measures fail, a woman’s right to make decisions that affect her body automatically limits the role of government.
The argument of pro-choice conservatives is that Washington should be out of the equation. If government must be involved, it should be at the state level, not the federal level. The conservative opposition to Roe v. Wade was once that the Supreme Court had made federal an issue that had been a matter for the states. Further federalizing it by law or constitutional amendment is contrary to conservative principle.
A further issue here is that it isn’t enough to ban abortion; women don’t get abortions because they enjoy them. If offered an alternative, many women would probably take it, and so GOP lawmakers should look for ways to offer real alternatives to pregnant women. Better-educated, better-employed women typically have fewer pregnancies, so they will also have fewer abortions. Either expand opportunities for poor women to not be poor, for instance with training programs, or help them find better options if they decide to move forward with the pregnancy.
Women’s health should be a bi-partisan issue, along with men’s health and children’s health. For conservatives, the conversation is often dominated by a focus on the life of the unborn child, as if the mother were simply a vessel for new life. Conservatism does not mean not taking into account the life and welfare of the mother, or assuming that pregnancy should be a punishment for stupidly having sex. We should never forget the importance of keeping government out of our daily lives, including our bedrooms and our doctors’ offices. Allowing government to regulate reproduction is inviting it to interfere with every facet of our lives.
The nanny state - the paternalistic government that tells you how much soda you can have in your cup or what your rifle can look like, that wants to tell you what you can’t buy and what you must, that tells you how to run your business and whether you can even start one - is a Democratic utopia. The GOP must never abandon its role in fighting for civil liberties, for our freedom from the moral dictatorship of others, and for choice.
Brandon Brice is a graduate of Howard University, Rutgers University’s Graduate Eagleton Institute of Politics and is currently completing his studies at Columbia University. Brandon is a conservative blogger/writer and political contributor for HipHopRepublican.com.
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