American Woman

So I kinda agree with investigative journalist Brad Friedman’s decision to give state Rep. Sarah Davis (R-TX) his “Intellectually Honest Conservative” Award for standing up for women’s rights in the Lone Star State. I don’t dispute Friedman’s point:

We’ve never figured out how so many Republicans get away with calling themselves “conservative”, claiming a belief in “limited government”, while still supporting huge and intrusive government programs and restrictions that rob citizens of rights, chief among them, targeted restrictions on women’s health issues. Want to get between private citizens and their doctors — as Republicans pretended to abhor during their fight against health care insurance reform? The GOP has done so for years, and continues to do so in spades, all over the nation.

There are few state legislatures more aggressively inserting Big Government between citizens and their doctors than the state of Texas. With few Democrats in the body to stop them, the GOP’s completely not-conservative Big Government “conservatism” continues unabated, with the state Legislature now hoping to even shut down cancer screenings at women’s health facilities that they don’t care for. And they are using very specifically targeted and powerful Big Government apparatus to simply put them out of business.

One Republican — just one — in the TX Legislature has been consistently standing up to them, and using true conservative values to do it…

Davis is standing up for real conservatism that truly honors the idea of “limited government” that her Republican colleagues only pretend to give a damn about. When the state Legislature passed its bill to shut down women’s health clinics all over the state in 2013, for example, robbing millions of private citizens of their Constitutional rights in the bargain, Davis was the lone GOPer to vote against the measure.

“A traditional Republican perspective is personal freedom, individual responsibility and limited government. That is, to me, what being a Republican is,” Davis said at the time. “So, just as much as I’m opposed to overregulation of industry, I’m opposed to the Legislature practicing medicine.”

The state GOP’s latest attempt at Big Government intrusion is a plant to further defund Planned Parenthood’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Services program which, if successful, Davis now argues, means that women “will die” as a result.

Yes, I also respect Rep. Davis…but I’d have a heck of a lot more respect for her if she decided to leave her misogynist party and told her right-wing colleagues to kiss her Tex-ass.

The GOP’s war on women began in earnest thirty-five years ago, when GOP presidential nominee Ronald Reagan effectively told Mary Crisp, the first female co-chair of the Republican National Committee, to get lost because of her strong support for women’s rights—a position that the whacko religious fundamentalists Reagan pandered to couldn’t tolerate. As the Washington Post noted in Crisp’s 2007 obituary:

Ms. Crisp, who worked her way up from grass-roots volunteer to co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee in 1977, was forced out three years later when she challenged the party’s anti-abortion platform and condemned its abandonment of the Equal Rights Amendment, which Republicans had supported for four decades.

“Although our party has presented the outward appearance of vibrant health, I’m afraid we are suffering from serious internal sickness,” she told a shocked platform committee. “Now we are . . . about to bury the rights of over 100 million American women under a heap of platitudes.”

Her remarks put her in direct conflict with presidential nominee Ronald Reagan, who chastised his party’s highest-ranking woman on national television, saying she “should look to herself and see how loyal she’s been to the Republican Party for quite some time.”

Ms. Crisp — who by then had spent almost two decades working for the party, mostly in unpaid positions — was reportedly stung by Reagan’s rebuke. The next day she announced that she was leaving the convention.

Ever since Reagan rammed his sharpened knife into Crisp’s back, it’s been downhill for women and women’s rights in the GOP. Over the last three-and-a-half decades, the Republican Party has made it clear that it doesn’t give a damn about women’s health, women’s reproductive rights, women’s economic equity and advancement, women’s concerns, women’s thoughts, women’s hopes. How can anyone, after a plain reading of the facts, not come away with the conclusion that the GOP is the ultimate men’s-only club?

One day, Rep. Davis will realize that if she wants to make sure women’s rights are permanently protected, she’ll have to leave the GOP. Yes, I do have a ton of respect for what she’s done—but when she summons the courage to leave her sexist party, my respect for her will be immeasurable.

UPDATE: Speaking (in a literal sense) of Republican wars on women, please read Friedman’s exclusive report on a horrifying domestic-violence case involving Republican-appointed US District Court Judge Mark Fuller—the man who played a key role in the railroading of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, a Democrat.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.