A few weeks ago I saw the National Journal’s latest polling that shows women feel that the Republican Party is moving further away from them and had to weigh in. As the days went by I decided I wanted to discuss the results of this polling that shows only 14 percent of women think the GOP is now closer to representing their views since the 2012 election. As a young Republican and a woman these dramatic polling results merely reflect exactly how I have felt over the past few years, especially when it comes to the issues of women’s health. For a perfect case study one only has to look at my home state of Texas where we have had an avalanche of attacks on women’s health coming from the state legislature.
It started with cuts to the Texas Women’s Health Program, creating policies that have cut more than 130,000 low-income women off from the only health care they can get – so they are not getting cancer screenings, diabetes screenings, and other basic health care – and has led to 76 health centers shutting down, which are the only health care provider visit some women have. Then this summer, in a legislative showdown that made national news the governor called a special section just to pass restrictions that would dramatically reduce access to safe and legal abortion and has outraged people across the state.
I grew up in a Republican household. I was taught and do believe in liberty, personal responsibility and limited government. I thought that my party shared those views with me, but the attacks on women’s health coming out of a governor’s mansion and state legislature dominated by male Republicans are making me question where my party really stands. As a woman, it is frustrating that this type of anti-women’s health legislation driven by the Republican Party takes away the most basic of dignities – the right to make decisions about our own bodies without undue interference from the government. If the GOP is truly a big tent, why does it feel that we have to choose between our party and our constitutional rights?
It is these types of attacks that are driving women away from the party at an alarming pace. How can we feel represented when we turn on the TV and Republicans are pushing forth yet another extreme measure that restricts women’s access to health care and even something as simple as birth control, which 99 percent of sexually active American women have used at some point in their lives. This divide will become even more apparent as Texans brace for what will most likely be one of the most watched political races in the country for Texas governor.
The race between Democrat Wendy Davis and Republican Greg Abbott for who will be the next governor of Texas will come down to many issues that Texans care about; however, the next governor will determine women’s access to cancer screenings, well-woman exams, birth control, and basic health care – and the difference couldn’t be clearer. Davis led the charge of Texas women this summer in her efforts to fight the Republican-led legislature’s enactment of some of the most extreme anti-women’s health laws in the country. Greg Abbott supported the drastic cuts to the Texas Women’s Health Program, and he supported completely ending safe and legal abortion, which would take away a woman’s ability to make her own medical decisions and would cause some women to resort to desperate, dangerous measures.
If my party truly wants to win back women and reverse the dramatic decline in support laid out in the National Journal poll they need to look no further than what is happening in Texas. I am not leaving my party, I still believe in limited government, personal responsibility and liberty for all. I just hope that the party realizes that these beliefs do not conflict with believing women should have access to basic health services and our constitutional rights.