From Candace Straight, national co-chair of Republican Majority for Choice, a Republican organization that supports legal access to abortion:
Eulogies for the Republican Party continue in the wake of its crushing 2012 electoral defeat. The GOP will continue on life support, with little hope for recovery, if its leaders fail to reach beyond their narrow “base” and support policies broadly embraced by the majority of Americans, especially women.
This week as the Republican National Committee holds its first post-election meeting in Charlotte, they have the opportunity to chart a bold new course for the future of the party and for our nation.
The GOP’s formula for success was articulated in a prescient missive back in 1776 by Abigail Adams, who urged husband John Adams and others in the Continental Congress to “remember the ladies” when crafting the code of laws for our new independent nation. She cautioned, “If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”
More than 200 years later, these words have never been more relevant. The GOP’s death grip on self-destructive social policies alienated women and younger voters. The extreme platform and fervently backed postures opposing reproductive health offended the majority of Americans. As a result, the GOP was widely accused of waging a war on women. And women, as Adams warned, rebelled.
Decades spent imposing litmus tests on abortion backfired on the GOP. In a year when jobs and the economy were a top concern, voters (particularly female voters) found they could not ignore the outlandish pronouncements by socially extreme GOP candidates. Take New Hampshire, for example. The Romney campaign targeted the state for victory but they were soundly defeated. New Hampshire exit polls showed that 72 percent of voters believed abortion should be legal in all or most cases, Obama captured 58 percent of the female vote and 62 percent of voters ages 18-29. Romney held only 51 percent of male voters.
If we are to come out of this our party leaders must end the practice of obstructing reproductive health measures out of fear of repercussions from the GOP’s religious right wing. They must understand that there can be differing views on heartfelt social issues. Pro-choice Republicans are not pro-abortion – we believe that limited government extends not just to our pocketbooks, but also to our personal lives.
The GOP cannot ignore the rebellion of millions of women. There is room for common ground. Going forward the Republican Party must consider reproductive health policies with wide support across the nation. These include common sense investments in services that prevent unintended pregnancies, reducing the number of teen pregnancies, slowing the alarming escalation of sexually transmitted diseases and a mutually shared goal of reducing the incidence of abortion.
Abigail Adams’ warning during the formative days of this great country still holds true today; above all, the Republican Party must “remember the ladies.” If the RNC continues to ignore this advice, its losses in national elections will persist.
The views in For The Record are the writer’s, and not necessarily those of the Observer editorial board.
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