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Republicans who support family planning

November 14, 2012

So, a week-plus after Election Day, certain things stick with me.  My excitement about finally having 20 U.S. Senators who are women.  Although it’s not enough, I love that we have more opportunity for pictures like this, displaying women governing.  What can I say, I’m a sucker for the role model effect.   And of course I think about four more years of President Barack Obama, and I can’t help but smile, even with the “fiscal cliff” looming and its effects on programs that help women and families, another fight in which to defend Medicaid and other health programs.  I’m hoping that in these four years he becomes as beloved as Bill Clinton is, and that he has the opportunity to accomplish even more.

But what really sticks with me is a mailer that I received at home. 

Since you may not be able to read that, let me explain what it says and why I keep thinking about it:

  • The mail piece supports Randy Altschuler, the Republican candidate for New York Congressional District 1.
  • It’s paid for and authorized by the New York State Republican Committee.  As in, this is an official Republican Party mailer.
  • It states “Randy Altschuler believes women should have access to birth control.”

Ok, yes, it also practically calls Tim Bishop the devil because he does not support parental notification.  And there are no qualifiers in the mail piece.  I’m sure if Randy was sitting here in my office we could have a spirited debate about birth control within Medicaid or the role of an employer and private insurance coverage.  But still.  An actual Republican mailer touting the Republican candidate’s support of birth control!

Maybe this is a harbinger of good things to come.  Maybe the New York State Republican Party can return to the party’s pro-family planning roots.  The ones that are apparent when you learn that President Richard Nixon made affordable family planning a national goal, and that George H. W. Bush supposedly earned the nickname “Rubbers” because he was so vocal in his support of family planning.  (Really.  Rubbers.)

This does make sense.  The idea of people being able to plan their own families is totally Republican, if Republican dogma is really about government getting out of people’s personal decisions.

It is clear that in order to make good policy you have to have both parties working together.  When it comes to women’s health, maybe at least one group within the Republican party realizes that their party has gone way too far to the right, and it’s time to come back to the center.  Maybe I’m dreaming, but it’s almost as lovely a dream as the one in which we have 20 female U.S. Senators and a second term of President Barack Obama… pinch me.

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