The Republican War On Women Continues Apace
A centerpiece of the Republican Party’s social agenda in the new millennium has been to deny women new rights and take away old rights, but it stands to reason that everyone of every political stripe would be opposed to neutering laws that seek to combat domestic violence and sexual assault.
But Republicans are less reasonable with every passing election cycle, and so we had the specter this week of every Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee voting against the reauthorization of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act because the party is determinedly anti-gay and anti-immigrant.
The reauthorization bill, introduced in the spirit of bipartisanism by Senators Patrick Leahy and Michael Crapo, a Democrat and Republican respectively, includes improvements that encourage more effective enforcement of protective orders and reducing the national backlog of untested rape kits, but Republicans object to language in the bill that ensures that victims are not denied services because they are gay or transgender and a provision that would modestly expand the availability of special visas for undocumented immigrants who are victims of domestic violence.
Senator Charles Grassley, the committee’s ranking Republican, has offered a substitute bill that not only cut out those improvements but called for a huge reduction in authorized financing, and elimination of the Justice Department office devoted to administering the law and coordinating the nation’s response to domestic violence and sexual assaults. The measure was defeated along party lines.
Thankfully, the GOP’s previous efforts in recent months in their war against women have fallen short. These include a law to permit hospitals that receive federal funding to deny women abortions even when their lives were at stake and a law redefining what constitutes forcible rape that would not protect women women who were drugged before sex and became pregnant, women whose health was in danger and became pregnant, and women who were mentally retarded and became pregnant.
The Violence Against Women Act was passed unanimously in 1994 but finding 60 votes in the Senate this time around will not be easy. Nor will it be easy for Republicans to explain to woman voters why their are turning to blind eye to their battered, stalked and assaulted sisters.