The GOP of the last decade defined itself by its so-called war on terror. This decade's GOP, by contrast, is defining itself by something far less noble: a war on America's women.
The previous salvos in this war were hard-hitting enough: as originally written, H.R.3 not only would have outlawed federal funding for abortion services as outlined under the Hyde Amendment, but would have expanded that to disallow taking tax credits for any businesses that purchased a health insurance plan that covered abortion services--thus inserting the iron fist of government into a health insurance marketplace that conservatives hypocritically love to claim should be more free from government interference. And if that weren't bad enough, it would have narrowed the exemptions to the Hyde ban.
The Hyde ban has always provided exceptions for victims of rape or incest. (Apparently, in the mind of conservative Republicans, a fetus is an innocent child whose life we must protect, unless that fetus was conceived through rape, in which case it's no longer an innocent life. In the conservative mind, it seems to be perfectly acceptable for an innocent child to pay for the sins of the father.) However, in its original version, H.R.3 would have restricted that exemption to rapes deemed "forcible"--because if you didn't die fighting, well, you must have wanted it.
After that came H.R.538, which literally would allow a hospital to deny an abortion to a woman out of "conscience", even were she to die as a result. And if that weren't good enough, down came a bill in South Dakota that allegedly would allow people to claim extenuating circumstances when murdering an abortion provider.
All of these anti-woman bills had as their veneer the idea that they were reducing federal funding for abortion, or preventing conscientious objectors from being forced to provide abortion services against their moral beliefs--as if somehow, letting a woman die is somehow more moral than terminating a pregnancy in order to save her life. But now, the veneer is off: With its recent rider to defund Planned Parenthood of federal funds, the GOP has now confirmed its intent to roll back decades of progress in the arena of women's rights.
Let's be perfectly clear: The annually-renewed Hyde Amendment already restricts federal funding for abortion, and abortion services are a comparatively tiny portion of Planned Parenthood's overall budget--most of which goes to such horrible things as birth control, cancer screenings, and other gynecological services. The supposed logic has to do with the fungibility of money: supposedly, if Planned Parenthood's funding for family planning is eliminated, they will be forced to take the money that they would otherwise use for abortions and use it for those services instead. Rick Santorum has already made Republican logic clear on this point: when forced to choose between living human beings and blastocysts, the fundamentalist Republicans would rather choose the latter, but just can't bring themselves to say it because they know it would alienate the majority of the population. And that's exactly the choice that Republicans have made by voting to defund Planned Parenthood, an organization that so many women depend on for physical health, including cancer prevention.
One might have thought that the availability of contraception would be something that anti-abortion activists would want to keep around, given the fact that the objective of contraception is to prevent the unplanned pregnancies that are most likely to result in abortions. But the defunding of contraception is more than just collateral damage: it's an integral part of the war on women currently being waged by the right wing. As research into the real intentions of socially conservative organizations would indicate, restricting access to birth control is actually an integral part of the agenda, even if it must be discussed under hushed tones because the public isn't quite ready to accept such a radical notion. The reason? The ultimate objective is not to preserve life but to reassert control over women's sexual behavior and re-establish a punitive link between sexuality and the consequences of pregnancy that have been weakened by the availability of birth control and, in some cases, abortion.
And if some women have to die in front of hospitals; if teenage rape victims have to be forced to bear the children of their rapists; if poor women no longer have access to cancer screenings; then, in the mind of the GOP, so be it. And speaking of "so be it": exactly how many jobs are going to be created by defunding Planned Parenthood? Won't we in fact be eliminating the jobs of all those health care workers, all while we allow more women to get cancer and other diseases? If Republicans actually cared more about jobs than about their attempts to reassert the subjugation of women, that's a question they might consider asking.