January 27, 2014 — Over the weekend, several editorials and columnists discussed women's health policy and political news, including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's (R) controversial comments about contraception and President Obama's initiative to address sexual assault.
~ New York Times: Despite losses in the 2012 presidential election and the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial race, Republicans are "digging in" on "attacks on women's health care and freedoms," a Times editorial states. It notes that the House is preparing to vote on a bill (HR 7) that would "erect new obstacles to women who might seek an abortion," while Huckabee last week at a Republican National Committee meeting suggested "that Democrats favor universal access to free contraception because they think women 'cannot control their libido' without the help of 'Uncle Sugar'" (New York Times, 1/26).
~ Gail Collins, New York Times: Huckabee "dismissed the idea that the GOP has a 'war on women' ... [by] telling us that the Republican Party will not insult women by suggesting the federal government should require health insurance policies to include birth control pills in the prescription drug coverage," Times columnist Collins writes. She sarcastically calls the approach a "super political strategy," adding that Huckabee "appears confident that women will find that an attractive proposition" (Collins, New York Times, 1/24).
~ Kathleen Parker, Washington Post: "As Republicans can't seem to learn, it's all in how you say things," Post columnist Parker writes, arguing that Huckabee's comments "not only distracted from his essential message but also placed him squarely in the frame with [Rush] Limbaugh." She adds, "Rather than end the idea of a Republican war on women, Huckabee has merely provided fresh fodder to Democrats, while reminding women why they don't want to associate with this crowd" (Parker, Washington Post, 1/24).
~ New York Times: Last week, Obama and Vice President Biden managed to discuss sexual violence at the national level with "real sensitivity," as they announced a task force on addressing the issue on college campuses, a Times editorial states. It adds, "Cynics might dismiss [their] remarks as focus-group pablum. But it's no small thing for two men in power to speak inoffensively on such a delicate topic, avoiding victim-blaming and callousness" (New York Times, 1/25).
~ Jessica Valenti, Washington Post: "Feminism has hit a tipping point" and the "sexist swipes that were normal" during Hillary Rodham Clinton's first presidential campaign "won't fly in a post 'war on women' culture," argues Valenti, a feminist author and a contributing editor at The Nation. She writes, "This time around, it will only make her stronger," adding, "Even if Republicans keep their mouths shut, their platform's attacks on reproductive rights and birth-control coverage, and the disdain for pay equity and anti-violence legislation, will do as much damage as any gaffe" (Valenti, Washington Post, 1/24).