President Obama may be moving forward with an ambitious agenda that includes immigration reform, addressing climate change and gun safety and weapons regulation, but Republicans have something else they’d like to tackle: legal abortion.
That’s according to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). Addressing a crowd of anti-choice demonstrators last weekend in Washington D.C., Boehner pledged to “commit ourselves to doing everything we can to protect the sanctity of life” and promised to make legal abortion a “relic of the past.”
“Let that be one of our most fundamental goals this year,” he said.
Not surprisingly, Boehner’s plan to end legal abortion starts first with poor women. Step one in his plan is to make the Hyde Amendment permanent. The Hyde Amendment prevents federal dollars from being used to pay for abortions except in cases of rape or incest and is a favorite target of anti-choice lawmakers who like to fundraise off of pledges to end “taxpayer funded” abortions. True to form, Boehner announced he would do so by again working to pass the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which would formally codify the Hyde Amendment.
Boehner has plenty of support from Republicans in the Senate too. Presumed 2016 presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told the crowd of his plans for a “spiritual cleansing” and of a gospel that “cannot be resisted.” “We much preach a gospel so full of compassion, a gospel so full of justice that it cannot be resisted. Then and only then will the law again protect the innocent,” Paul said.
Republicans promising to end legal abortion at the National Right to Life rally is to be expected, as is Paul’s call for the imposition of Dominionist martial law. And that is a sad commentary on what passes for conservative leadership these days. Even the most cynical of politicians, and Boehner must be among that crew, has to understand that continuing to flog the reproductive rights horse as the nation’s top priority just after suffering a humiliating electoral defeat in part because you spent the last two years flogging the reproductive rights horse is a bad idea.
Maybe not. Maybe today’s Republican party is simply the remnants of old white resentment fostered over hundreds of years in this country and Democrats are the party of everyone else. Demographics from the November election certainly suggest that conclusion, and Republicans are so far doing nothing to present a rebuttal.
We’ll learn a lot over the next year about how the party plans to position itself in the 2014 midterms and 2016 presidential race. Voters sent clear warning signs to Republicans in the last election, and the party is running out of chances. Apparently, they don’t seem to care.
Photo from Gage Skidmore via flickr.