Rick Santorum and the GOP Only Favor Freedom From the Waist Up

From contraceptives to female soldiers on the front lines, the Republican party is turning away women voters

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This is a big week in the clothing industry. It is Fashion Week in New York City and the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue just came out. I normally don't pay much attention to fashion but I got to thinking how former Sen. Rick Santorum's election would change the way women dress. My guess is that next year, Gisele Bundchen and the other supermodels will be on the catwalk wearing chadors (what a waste) and all the hottest new designers will be from Saudi Arabia. And Sports Illustrated? Forget about it. If Santorum becomes president, you can bet Kate Upton will be wearing more clothes if she is on the cover again. I probably should say that next year, she'll at least be wearing some clothes.

Rick Santorum wants to practice "pelvic politics" as New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof calls it. The former senator also wants to build a bridge for women to the 13th century. He wants to ban all abortions, he doesn't favor birth control, and he opposes the Pentagon's plans to assign women to the front lines in jobs like intelligence and communications. Santorum once said that contraception is "harmful to women." I think Rick Santorum is harmful to women.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 GOP hopefuls.]

Santorum also wants to bring back the gender gap. Traditionally women are much more likely to vote for Democrats than men are. But in 2010, the GOP did almost as well with women as the party did with men. After a couple of decades, the GOP finally closes the gender gap, and Santorum's nomination would bring it back and make it as wide as the Grand Canyon. 

Leading the opposition to the president's fight for women are the Catholic bishops and Archbishop (soon to be Cardinal) Timothy Dolan of New York. New York has a law that requires religious institutions to include birth control coverage in employee health insurance packages and Catholic organizations in New York have followed the law for years by making birth control a part of their employee health insurance benefits in the Empire State. So why is Dolan making such a fuss now? My guess is presidential politics.

[Read the U.S. News debate: Should Catholic and Other Religious Institutions Have to Cover Birth Control?]

And if Republicans think that Santorum's nomination will bring more Catholics into the fold, they ignore that a clear majority of Catholics support the requirement for religious institutions to provide birth control to their employees. Believe me, I know what I'm talking about because I'm one of the many Catholics who support the president's position on contraception. If Dolan's plan is to help Republicans he might want to check out the New York Times/CBS poll. In his column on Sunday, Kristof reminds the archbishop that Jesus spent a lot more time talking about social justice than he did birth control.

DePaul University is one of the largest Catholic colleges in the country and the school has covered contraceptives for their employees. If I was a Catholic bishop, I would be handing out contraceptive devices like penny candy. A pregnancy prevented is a pregnancy not aborted.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Catholic contraception controversy.]

Rick Santorum and Archbishop Dolan are just two of the men who want to tell women what they can and can't do with their bodies. Men telling women how to live their lives is a quaint custom that is still all the rage with conservatives. If they had their way, conservatives would bring back the days of dragging women by the hair back to their caves. Republicans only favor individual freedom from the waist up. Under GOP rule, the federal government would step up its regulation of women's bodies, which is odd for a party that claims it wants to rein in the feds.

  • See a collection of political cartoons on the Republican party.
  • See pictures of Rick Santorum
  • Jamie Stiehm: Americans Deserve Political Freedom from the Catholic Church