Bipartisan wars on women, for women, and about women are springing up everywhere.
Bombs have pierced the veil conservatives placed on other culture wars since the last Republican presidential primaries. With Pennsylvania set as the only conceivable general election swing state in next week’s contests, battle lines are being drawn between women on the same fields of combat where wars were waged, won and lost decades ago.
In Arizona, a new state law signed by Gov. Jan Brewer gained national attention, by declaring life begins the first day of a woman’s last period. This immaculate law of conception ignores scientific fact, and effectively eliminates political arguments about whether abortion is actually about a “pre-born” child or the rights of sexually active women.
Last week’s “early birthday gift” from Hilary Rosen to Ann Romney then revived the 1960s-era hot debate between working women who stay home and women who enter the work force. Conveniently, for men, the dispute is grounded in which of the two groups of women have a better grasp of jobs and the economy – those who shop for groceries or those who bring home the bacon – as if men and women are divided by a gender neutral zone so vast and void of exception we’ve dismissed women who bring home bacon and fry it up in a pan. Forget the Mr. Mom movement and please pay no attention to families for whom a single income isn’t even an option – they probably won’t have time to vote anyway.
So it’s finally time for supporters of Pennsylvania’s Rick Santorum to step aside. The Pennsylvania primary is just around the corner and gay, gun and God games haven’t taken flight in his home state. Topics like immigration are off the table for the moment, although some of my old neighbors from Pennsyltucky would argue residents from other states are immigrants who should not be permitted to cross PA’s southern boarder legally. It’s a resistance rooted in racism, yet we haven’t heard anyone suggest erecting a fence along the Mason-Dixon Line.
As far as the death penalty, the only three people who have been executed under Pennsylvania’s capital punishment law since 1978 ended their appeals and actually asked to die. It was the first state in the union to abolish public hangings and many today consider the 200-plus people still on Death Row to be on the “death installment plan” because nearly every death penalty conviction is commuted to a life sentence.
The Keystone State is sandwiched between New York, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey – states recognizing gay marriage or at least something civil related to the recognition of same-sex couples. Therefore, strategies to gouge out support through claims that gays are a threat to society are risky and have been losing traction since Santorum lost Ohio, PA’s only other neighbor besides West Virginia.
The real arguments about economic theory, why job creation has been sluggish or what will make health care costs go down are too complicated for simple sound bites. The next leg of this political relay race must be run by reigniting a fire under a newly crafted cultural war, and what better way to create a fire than to stoke the flame under Roe vs. Wade?
After all, Planned Parenthood v. Casey failed to uphold what some believe were vital parts of the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act, and southeastern Pennsyltucky is one of the swingiest parts of the state – and is practically the navel of the women’s reproductive rights universe.
It is only fitting we would reenact a not-so-civil war between sisters, for political purposes, in practically the same place the War For State’s Rights was fought between brothers more than a century ago. Once the dust settles and the primary is past, we will return to a country where Mitt Romney and Barack Obama look to women like the same guy in two different outfits, and we will all be reminded the 2012 presidential election was never about a women’s right to choose in the first place.
Tony Plakas is the CEO of Compass, the gay and lesbian community center of Lake Worth and the Palm Beaches.