Strangely, the current Republican presidential campaign contains a weird assault on rights of American women. It's freakish.
Of course, the GOP and its fundamentalist base always have fought women's right to terminate pregnancies -- while the Democratic Party's platform upholds women's right to choose. That's a stark difference between the parties. But the new onslaught goes farther.
It began last fall when GOP candidate Rick Santorum declared that birth control is "not OK" because "it's a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be." He contradicted two landmark U.S. Supreme Court rulings a half-century ago that gave U.S. couples a right to practice contraception in the privacy of their bedrooms.
The attack on birth control grew when a Republican leader induced the Komen Foundation to shut off funds for Planned Parenthood. An explosion of protest erupted, and the GOP figure was ousted by Komen.
Then the Obama White House decreed that health insurance plans must offer contraceptive coverage for female employees, even at Catholic-owned agencies outside the church. All GOP candidates raged that the rights of bishops were being trampled -- even though U.S. Catholic women overwhelmingly practice birth control and want coverage.
Republicans in Congress held an all-male hearing on this issue. They refused to let any women speak, including a Georgetown University law student. Democrats hastily arranged a hearing at which the student said women need contraception.
In reaction, Republican voice Rush Limbaugh waged a three-day broadcast attack calling the student a "slut" and "prostitute," and demanding that she post videos of her sex life for everyone to watch.
Republicans in Congress (joined by West Virginia's Sen. Joe Manchin) tried to pass the Blunt Amendment to let Catholic bishops block birth control insurance coverage, and let other employers stymie any insurance that doesn't suit their religion. Luckily, this attempt failed.
Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry rejected federal Title X money that provides women's medical care and birth control. Conservative state legislators vote to declare fertilized eggs "persons," thus making it murder to take a morning-after pill.
In the latest New York magazine, Frank Rich wrote that the GOP "panders to the religious right, and [is] particularly dependent on white men with less education and less income -- a displaced demographic that has been as threatened by the rise of the empowered modern woman as it has been by the cosmopolitan multiracial male elites symbolized by Barack Obama."
Rich said "the strange 2012 Republican fixation on women" included a GOP "Virginia governor endorsing a state bill requiring that an ultrasound 'wand' be inserted into the vagina of any woman seeking an abortion."
The Republican assault on women's rights rose in the 1970s and grew steadily. Former New York GOP leader Tanya Melich sickened of it, voted for Democrat Bill Clinton in the 1990s, and wrote a book titled The Republican War Against Women.
Rich summed up that women now have "fallen to a status lower than the fetus as far as this recalibrated Republican Party is concerned." What a weird development.