Unions, Medicaid expansion and welfare benefits are also included in the war on women

war on womenSun Tzu once wrote “If he sends reinforcements everywhere, he will everywhere be weak.” It would seem that Republicans have been studying up on the principles outlined in the Art of War and are masterfully using them to attack women in dozens of states. Their war on women is forcing us to fight back on every front.

The 2010 elections gave Republicans complete legislative control over 26 states and in each of these states they have attacked abortion rights, unions, Medicaid expansion, welfare benefits, and more.   

War On Women: Anti-Abortion Laws

In 2011, a record 92 anti-abortion bills passed in Republican controlled legislatures. In 2012, the number of anti-abortion measures working through Republican controlled legislatures rose to 430 with roughly 10% passing. The measures ranged from blocking health insurance coverage, to requiring invasive ultra-sounds, to closing women’s health clinics, to limiting access to contraception. And while this is the most obvious attack on women it is only one aspect of it.

War On Women: Unions

It is no secret that in every sector women earn substantially less compared to their male counterparts. When it comes to unions however, women earn the same wage as men. As of 2012, the number of states that had passed right-to-work laws stood at 24.  Right-to-work laws prohibit unions from excluding non-union employees and from requiring a fee to join the union.  Effectively, right-to-work laws do not guarantee employment as the name suggest but limits the power of the unions.

war on womenWar On Women: Medicaid Expansion

One of the provisions of Obamacare was to require states to expand Medicaid and set up health insurance exchanges. But this provision was the only one struck down by the United States Supreme Court. Of the 26 Republican controlled states, 21 of them have refused to expand Medicaid and have left low-income residents unable to obtain Medicaid coverage even if they qualify – pushing them into higher cost policies. Women comprise two-thirds of the Medicaid beneficiaries.

War On Women: Social Benefits

Many Republican controlled state governments have slashed welfare benefits and education funding while expanding tax cuts to businesses. The timing of these cuts could not come at a worse time for a still recovering economy. The food stamp program was recently slashed by $800 million dollars effective this year, and 8.7 billion dollars overall.

The U.S. Republican controlled House allowed jobless benefits to lapse rather than extend them for people who still looking work. In addition, Republicans used their control of the House to stymie any measures to put women on an equal footing through the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Again, women are more likely than men to be poor and require social benefits.

Why it Matters

The effects of these attacks against women all employ one common theme; women overwhelmingly vote Democratic. They comprise just over half of the registered voters, and they are less likely to vote if they are left discouraged by their government or if they are struggling to make ends meet. After all, who has the will to vote if they think that it won’t change anything for them.

In effect, it becomes death by a thousand tiny cuts. Women are focused on protecting their abortion rights in one corner, their right to equal pay in another and on top of this they must worry about affording basic necessities. Women need to understand that Republicans, even Republican women, will not be happy until women are put back in the kitchen – taking care of their husbands and children – where they belong.

To counter these attacks, women need to stop voting against their own interests, or even worse not voting at all. Most of all they need to get involved in the political process period. We need to start supporting strong progressive female candidates and helping them get elected to office.


  1. I am always amazed how many women will speak negatively about the Affordable Care Act and blame the president for not having the benefits they would be able to get if they lived in a state where the legislature had expanded Medicaid. They can’t seem to understand that it is the Republicans that are keeping them from having full access. They complain about poor wages and yet support right to work and busting unions. They are not happy that jobs don’t have the benefits that jobs used to provide and yet can’t seem to understand that regulations that have been done away with allow employers to pay top management obnoxious and extreme high salaries and benefits while taking more and more from the low end of the totem pole. They fail to realize that taking rights away from other women, even for things they may not believe in or support, ultimately ends up hurting all women. One starts feeling like they are beating their head against a brick wall when trying to make some understand how it is all connected and how the rights and freedoms for women are being threatened every day. When we allow those in power an inch, one can be sure they will take a mile.

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