Another week, another Republican attempt to appease women gone wrong. The political snafus keep coming after Democratic President Barack Obama won a majority of the female vote in 2012. (See this Gallup pre-election poll.)
Last Thursday, former preacher-turned-governor-turned-media personality Mike Huckabee fit the words “Uncle Sugar,” “birth control” and “libido” into a statement about women. Well, there’s a pretty good way to get attention before yet another potential run for president in 2016.
Here’s text of the controversial part of Gov. Mike Huckabee’s speech last week before a Republican National Committee audience, courtesy of Yahoo News’ Chris Moody. Watch the clip in this YouTube video:
Enough of your nonsense, Mike Huckabee.
The “war on women” narrative is alive and should be a subject of debate because some of the Republican party’s most conservative members are going too far. The issue of abortion will always be a contentious one. But why in the world would some members of the party extend that battle to contraceptives — the very invention that prevents the need for abortions, allows families to plan and space out their pregnancies, and saves taxpayers money by reducing Medicaid births?
How many of us are still confused about that libido comment? What’s more clear is Huckabee feels perfectly comfortable ridiculing the idea of government assistance with birth control, then claiming his party “stands for the recognition of the equality of women and the capacity of women.” This makes no sense. Birth control is the very tool which empowers women to pursue their education, become self-sufficient, and to decide when they are emotionally and financially prepared to have children. Many forms of contraceptive are not easy to buy and often require a visit to the doctor, making it even more difficult for poor women to access. Huckabee insults a lot of people when he claims Democrats think that “women are nothing more than helpless and hopeless creatures whose only goal in life is to have a government provide for them birth control medication.”
Wrong on so many levels. Discounts history, too.
Watch the video below on government’s role in family planning, produced by yours truly in 2012 when I was a news reporter covering women’s health in Texas. Birth control for married couples only became legal in 1965. The federal government’s Title X family planning program was started by Republicans in the late 1960s. The bipartisan effort was spearheaded by then-U.S. Congressman George H.W. Bush and signed into law in 1970 by President Richard M. Nixon.
Now is the time to take the politics out of birth control. Look at the facts. A 2011 Brooking Institution study indicated that federal and state governments spend more than $11 billion per year on unintended pregnancies. Government should make contraceptives as accessible to women as possible because it save taxpayers’ money in the long-term, is a fiscally responsible way to help families avoid unwanted pregnancies (which lead to all sorts of societal problems, from health care to crime), and means fewer people will have to rely on government programs.
Governor Huckabee has a history of putting his foot in his mouth (see this previous Opinion Northwest blog post), so this probably isn’t the last we’ve heard from him on a controversial topic.