Susan B. Anthony once said, “No self-respecting woman should wish or work for the success of a party that ignores her sex.” She said that during a time when women didn’t have the vote, and parties could, for the most part, safely ignore women. Women have now had the vote for slightly over 100 years, and even vote at higher rates than men, but it seems to me that political parties in the U.S. still ignore women. Yes, on both the right and the left. There’s a real sense of political homelessness among women in 2022, which didn’t exist before.
It has been true for quite some time that women overall are significantly less likely than men to vote Republican. With the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade this month, we have seen Republican-led states enact abortion bills that fail to balance concern for the fetus with concern for the woman carrying the fetus. The new abortion laws in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas have no exceptions for either rape or incest. Mississippi has no exception for incest. The trigger laws in Idaho, South Dakota and Arkansas have no exception for serious health consequences to the mother if she continues the pregnancy.
Fortunately, as I have pointed out previously, Utah is a proverbial haven of sanity among red states, though its law is not without problems. Abortion is still legal in cases of rape, incest, life of the mother, other serious health complications, death or terminal status of the fetus, etc. While not perfect, it strives for balance — a balance which acknowledges there is a woman involved, a woman who deserves the state’s concern as well.
We are already beginning to see the inhumanity of the approach taken by other red states. The case of the unnamed Ohio girl, impregnated at age 9 and who crossed into Indiana to have an abortion, is germane here. Some have tried to argue that the law in Ohio might have allowed her to have an abortion under the clause “serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function,” which the law specifies to include conditions such as diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
But, there should be no question that a raped 9-year-old should have the right to an abortion, period. She’s been raped. She was 9 years old when raped. In Utah, she would have had the right to access an abortion for those reasons alone, even for only one of these reasons alone, because the state of Utah values her as well.
We’re seeing, and we will continue to see, other mistreatment of women needing abortions, such as the Wisconsin woman who experienced an incomplete miscarriage and bled out for 10 days because the hospital refused to remove the miscarried fetus out of fear of legal repercussions. Wisconsin’s 1849 ban on abortions is now state law once more, and doctors must guess if she is close enough to death to warrant medical care without risking prosecution.
The Dobbs decision, you see, meant that Wisconsin’s 1849 ban on abortions is now state law once more. That needs to be remedied
I can thus understand why many women are less apt to vote Republican. Some Republicans, including influential ones, tend not to ask the question, “And how will this affect women?” I see this even in the recent proposal by Republican senators to charge men child support from conception, which is their retort to the rightful criticism that men cause 100% of unwanted pregnancies. But consider that homicide is already the top cause of death for pregnant women, overwhelmingly perpetrated by the women’s intimate partners, many times because the man does not want the child and the woman does. Republicans need to ask how will this proposal affect the lives of women: will it lower or raise homicide rates of pregnant women?
Lest anyone think women should all be voting Democrat, there’s much to criticize on the left, as well, which is why women are increasingly feeling they are politically homeless. Democrats have opposed efforts to give parents a more effective say over what their child is taught in school, and this is an issue about which women care deeply. It is under the Biden administration that we have seen efforts to erase the sex-based protections of Title IX, gutting the intent of its feminist creators. It is in Democrat-led states that we see the championing of the decriminalization of prostitution and the deregulation of surrogacy. It is the left that appears set on wiping public discourse free of the words “woman” and “mother,” with no concomitant effort to do the same to “man” and “father.” It is the left that is associated with the drive to eliminate single-sex spaces for women, resulting in predictable unfortunate outcomes.
The left is just as guilty as the right of not asking the question, “And how will this affect women?”
While it is the right that has traditionally been labeled as indifferent to the concerns of women, the left is just as indifferent, but has recently taken the tack that if our society erases the very concept of women, then we won’t have to worry about what happens to them anymore. Here’s comments from women acquaintances about this new development:
“I can’t vote for Democrats while they erase me and I would never vote for a Republican now, as they have lost their minds. I’m sitting out in 2022.”
“I changed my voter registration to ‘unaffiliated’ and wrote to my state and federal reps and senators (all Democrats) and told them that they will never get another dime or another vote from me until women’s sex-based rights return to the Democratic Party platform.”
“I just got my new voting card after I left the U.S. Democratic party. I’m unaffiliated now because I don’t think there are any political parties that actually care about women.”
If the Democratic Party is counting on women to continue to vote disproportionately for it, I’ve got news for them. Women are angry. They feel that both political parties have betrayed them.
Influential author Louise Perry has some pointed advice for politically homeless women:
“The mistake that feminists have made again and again, not only in America but also in this country, is to prioritize animosity towards the right over a clear-eyed understanding of the attitude that the left takes towards women. The results of that mistake are, I think, beginning to become too glaring to ignore. I’m not suggesting that feminists should join forces with the right ... I’m suggesting something else: that feminists should cut themselves loose from both left and right, since both political traditions were until very recently entirely dominated by men and male interests, meaning that a productive form of feminist politics needs to be deliberately orthogonal to the traditional political spectrum.”
Amen to that. What we need now is for women to proudly and publicly announce their dis-affiliation from the Republican and Democratic parties so that both are put on notice that “no self-respecting woman should wish or work for the success of a party that ignores her sex.” Or, as the women say in the U.K., “Respect my sex if you want my X (my vote).”