The Romney campaign may want senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom to stop talking. The man who gave the 2012 campaign “Etch-a-Sketch” strategy has now declared that issues that affect women are simply “shiny objects” that distract voters from more important topics.
Appearing on This Week With George Stephanopolus, Fehrnstrom said, “Mitt Romney is pro-life. He’ll govern as a pro-life president,†but youíre going to see the Democrats use all sorts of shiny objects to distract peopleís attention from the Obama performance on the economy. This is not a social issue election.”
That will be news not only to the women who have been fighting against abortion restrictions, but to Republicans themselves. Since gaining power in 2011, Republicans across the country have†pushed a rash of draconian anti-choice restrictions, including attempting to ban sex-selective abortion restrictions in just the last week.
Romney himself repeatedly has hit on social themes in the election,†blasting President Barack Obama for requiring employers to provide birth control as part of preventative coverage — despite having done the same as governor of Massachusetts.
Obama Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter reacted with incredulity to the statement.
“If itís not a social issue election then why did Mitt Romney just spend the last year campaigning on social issues?” Cutter asked. “These are his positions that heís taken. Whether itís giving bosses control over whether female employees can get contraception, being for the so-called personhood amendment that would ban all forms of abortion or telling the American people that heíll get back to them on whether he supports Lilly Ledbetter, which is an economic issue and it should be a no-brainer, but the governor couldnít even bring himself to be for that.”
Perhaps most galling is the idea that issues like abortion, fair pay and equal rights are just “shiny objects.” The girl turned away from an Oklahoma hospital after being raped was not a shiny object; she was a hurt, scared person who just wanted to get medical treatment. That care might have included emergency contraception, though, and thanks to so-called “conscience” laws, doctors who don’t believe in birth control don’t have to treat patients.
For the tens of millions of American women who have had abortions, and the hundreds of millions of American men and women who have used contraception, the right to access health services is not a distraction. It is a core right, one as basic as the right to free speech, or freedom of religion. Those aren’t distractions. They’re vital.
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Image Credit: Oleg Casini