Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is touting the same wisdom that has become a staple of Republican Party ideology over the past few years: Preventative health care for women is simply unnecessary and Democrats, according to the former governor, believe “[women] can’t control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government.”
Huckabee’s comments, and the Republican Party’s stance on women’s health care at large, present a dilemma the GOP faces in garnering women voters. Recent comments by the former governor position women as victims who are spellbound by an appeal for free contraception under the Affordable Care Act. In his latest remarks, Huckabee targets the contraceptive mandate, which requires that employers provide preventative services without copay.
The GOP must make the decision of when and how to cut ties with their most radical fringe or face dim election prospects, especially among minorities and women. Evidently, the Republican Party’s rhetoric has diminished any significant attempt to win nationwide elections.
A National Journal poll conducted in 2013 showed only 14 percent of women believed the Republican Party represented their views. The GOP’s inability to understand the importance of a woman’s right to contraceptive access will continue to promote a hostile environment in politics around the country.
For the GOP, history seems to repeat itself. Former U.S. Rep. Todd Akin proclaimed there exist cases of “legitimate rape” and former Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock said “rape is a gift from God.” These narratives proved costly for both men at the voting booth and present women with a peculiar situation.
Though his comments reflect only one extreme wing of the Republican Party, Huckabee is nonetheless one of the GOP’s most recognizable figures. The fact that he is continuing to double down on the type of rhetoric that has soured female voters to Republicans in recent years does not bode well for his party. Rhetoric and legislation go hand in hand, and this is not an exception. With the memories of legislation restricting access to abortion across the country looming large, the GOP is shooting itself in the foot for the midterm elections and beyond.
Beyond the fact that women are neither in favor of anti-abortion legislation nor the denial of basic reproductive care, the GOP’s rhetoric is downright offensive. Women are reduced to the image of irresponsible victims with no morals. It is condescending, to say the least.
The platform the Republican Party continually serves to voters is viable for catering to fringe groups of the conservative movement rather than the general populace. The GOP continues to promote polices of obstruction in effective governing instead of promoting policies that encourage income equality and empowerment of women and minorities.
Rather than utilizing divisive language assaulting women’s sexual choices and freedoms, Huckabee and the GOP should study the benefits of contraception. Women who have access to birth control have the ability to choose if and when to have a family.
In Missouri, when women were given the choice of fully paid (governmentally subsidized) contraception, there was a sharp decline of unintended pregnancies. Thereby the necessity for abortion decreased and was lower than half of the regional and national rates, something anti-abortion advocates like Mike Huckabee should support.