Pro-choice Republicans are begging their party to drop this fight over contraception before it’s too late. Turning to a discussion about access to birth control will be nothing short of a disaster, they say.
The new and unexpected war over contraception may not end up as only a battle between the White House and the Republican party. It could end up as a fight between the GOP and itself. As we saw during the 2011’s push to defund Planned Parenthood — when some Republican Senators rebuked their colleagues in the House for attacking the organization — Republicans on Capitol Hill do not speak with one voice on matters of women’s health. Now, as Speaker John Boehner seemingly prepares to turn the House GOP’s attention to contraception, pro-choice Republicans are warning that the GOP may become the next Komen For The Cure.
“I think this week’s outrage over the Komen decision should be a warning to the Republican party about how quickly there was a mass outrage over further and further attacks on general women’s health,” Kellie Ferguson, executive director of Republican Majority for choice, told me Wednesday. “You could see the same backlash on attacks on contraception.”
Ferguson calls the Republican rhetoric on contraception “crossing the line” — taking the discussion away from choice issues (where Republicans can find some broader, if still national minority constituency) and into the realm of the fringy extreme.
“For the last number of years, we in the pro-choice community in general — and we specifically as Republicans — have been saying as this pandering to a sort of social conservative faction of voters continues, you’re going to see the line pushed further and further and further,” she said. “And we’re now crossing the line from discussion of when we should regulate abortion to when we should now regulate legal doctor-prescribed medications like birth control, which is woven in the fabric of society as an acceptable medication.”
She pointed to widely-reported polling showing that a majority of Americans — and a majority of Catholics — support the White House policy and urged her party to take a step back before it’s too late.
A high-profile debate over contraception will only serve to alienate voters and deny Republicans the White House in the fall, Ferguson suggested.
“There’s a big leap between people who vote at a Republican caucus and the majority that will vote in a general election,” she said. “I think pigeon-holing the party as against women’s health in general not only hurts the party, but it hurts our key candidates.”