Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison Insists The GOP Is Not Anti-Women
2:45 pm, August 27th | by Sarah Devlin
Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is a little miffed that her party has been characterized as hostile to women lately, thanks in large part to boneheads like Todd Akin. While some less enlightened members of her party might quibble over what does and does not constitute “legitimate rape,” Hutchison believes that her party does ultimately have female voters’ best interests at heart. She lays out her case in an op-ed for CNN:
To say that there is a set of concerns that can be labeled “women’s issues” is absolutely true. To assume that we all feel the same way about them — or that we must feel the same way about them to represent our gender legitimately — is inherently sexist.
My experiences as a woman certainly inform my perspective, but they do not wholly define my political views. I am also guided by the values my family instilled and the educational opportunities I had growing up.
She also cites her work with senators across the aisle on legislation designed to protect women’s health and safety:
Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Maryland, and I sponsored the Homemaker IRA, allowing spouses who do not work outside the home — the vast majority of them women — to defer taxes in individual retirement accounts.
Mikulski and I worked together again to co-sponsor the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. More recently, all the female senators — Democrats and Republicans — joined together in opposing the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s recommendation that women under 50 forgo breast cancer screening.
This is certainly fine, important work, and Hutchison’s resume does speak to an awareness of women’s issues and a devotion to public service in order to improve the lives of women in her state as well as nationwide. But…while this op-ed does a great job making a case for Kay Bailey Hutchison as female-friendly, it fails to do the same for her party.
It’s tough to make the logical leap that the GOP supports women’s health because Hutchison sponsored legislation that makes breast and cervical cancer screenings available to women at the same time that her party’s platform, which will be ratified this week at the Republican Convention, affirms, “We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion and will not fund organizations which advocate it.” Naturally, this would exempt Planned Parenthood, which performed 750,000 breast exams in 2010, the last year that information was available. How much good does the Breast and Cervical Cancer Mortality Prevention Act of 1990 do if, at the same time, the Republican party makes it impossible for 750,000 other women to get screened every year?
Hutchison’s ingenuous column makes it clear that she cares deeply about women’s issues on an individual level, and her commitment to women’s health and safety, education and economic opportunity is admirable, but it also inadvertently highlights how hostile her party is to some of the issues that she finds most important. It’s tough to succeed economically, which she cites as the core of her Republican value system, if you’re not able to get the kind of preventive healthcare that keeps you from dying of cancer before you can get your small business off the ground. It would be great if her party shared more of her concerns; everyone would be better off! I have a feeling, however, that Hutchison is still in the minority of Republicans on those issues. Maybe they could put her in charge of some stuff — she certainly seems to have a better grasp on health issues than Michele “the HPV vaccine causes mental retardation” Bachmann.
[Photo via Red Dog Report]