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“The stupidity is simply staggering.”  That’s a direct quote from Republican Representative Charlie Dent (R-PA) in reference to the decision of his party’s leadership to bring an unconstitutional bill that would ban abortion nationwide at 20-weeks up for a vote next week.  “I’ll be very frank: I discouraged our leadership from bringing this to a vote on the floor,” he told CQ-Roll Call. “Clearly the economy is on everyone’s minds, we’re seeing very stagnant job numbers, confidence in the institution of government is eroding and now we’re going to have a debate on rape and abortion.” 

Representative Dent is not the only Republican raising concerns about whether continued attacks on women’s health is hurting the Republican Party’s ability to appeal to the majority of Americans.  

On MSNBC’s Morning Joe yesterday, former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele asked:  “Why are we having this discussion? As a pro-life Republican, this is not something that’s part of the national debate right now. Americans are concerned about Syria, they’re still concerned about the economy, things where the Republicans can be leading and moving women and moving Americans across the spectrum to our argument. It’s stunning….  That’s the driver for me. It is not where the country is. These issues are very personal issues and why we’re still trying to legislate them at the federal level to me is just beyond comprehension.”

According to a recent interview with Roll Call, former Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack feels that “the House’s renewed focus on a Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., bill to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy will likely hurt the party’s efforts to build a broader base.”She said that “The whole party is trying so hard to reach out to people who are not in the party right now. … This is one of those things where people who are on the fence, looking at both parties, deciding which one they like, they might look at this bill and say, ‘I just might not go there. This is a little too far for me.’”

In Virginia, where the Republican Party has nominated the most extreme ticket on women’s health in memory, many Republican women are saying they cannot support the Cuccinelli-Jackson-Obenshain ticket.  Former President of the Virginia Federation of Republican Women Jan Schar said that although she’s been a Republican for years, “I simply cannot support them,” as they would “end a woman’s right to make her own health care choices, including access to birth control.” 

In Oklahoma, Republican State Representative Doug Cox, a physician, wrote in a recent op-ed: “What happened to the Republican Party that I joined? The party where conservative presidential candidate Barry Goldwater felt women should have the right to control their own destiny? The party where President Ronald Reagan said a poor person showing up in the emergency room deserved needed treatment regardless of ability to pay? What happened to the Republican Party that felt government should not overregulate people until (as we say in Oklahoma) ‘you have walked a mile in their moccasins’”?

The majority of Americans – across party lines – understand that politicians have no business interfering in decisions that are best left between a woman and her doctor and that’s what we’re going to continue fighting for, even if Republican leadership refuses to listen to their own party. 

If you have any questions, please contact the Planned Parenthood media office at 212-261-4433.

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