A tale of two platforms

We’ve spent a lot of time celebrating the progressive stance of the Democratic platform. Not only does it unapologetically defend women’s right to abortion, it also commits to repealing the Hyde and Helms amendments to remove barriers from women’s access to safe abortion. The platform has been called “the most progressive of all time.” It takes a strong position on climate change and raising the minimum wage. It commits to protecting the Affordable Care Act.

While the Democratic platform is pushing the country – and arguably the party – forward, the Republican platform does not even attempt to hide its backwardness.

Instead of tackling the very real problem of restrictive abortion laws such as the Helms Amendment,which contributes to the deaths of thousands of women every year, the platform declares “pornography” a “public health crisis,” and claims that pornography is linked to sex trafficking and other societal issues. This comes from the party that fought tooth and nail to prevent funding for a sex trafficking law unless it included an expansion of existing abortion restrictions. And it’s hard to take their concern for public health crises seriously when they just left town without passing a bill to address the ongoing Zika outbreak – again because they tried to use it as just another opportunity to undermine reproductive health programs.

While their obsession with pornography attempts to hide behind public health, the rest of the platform doesn’t shy away from being hateful. It opposes marriage equality and protecting LGBT folks against discrimination. Forgetting about separation of Church and State, the platform also calls for teaching the bible in schools.

The icing on the bitter cake of intolerance that is the GOP platform is that it has moved further to the right on women’s rights, something one wouldn’t have deemed possible before. It calls for practically banning abortion, including in the case of rape, incest, and health-threatening situations, and defunding Planned Parenthood and all other health facilities that provide abortion services. It also supports TRAP laws that have restricted women’s access to safe abortion in the U.S., including imposing mandatory waiting periods and parental consent – none of which are medically necessary. In addition, they call for requiring provisions to prevent “fetal pain,” which according to science, does not exist, and creating needless “safety regulations” that have led to the closure of dozens of clinics around the country, leaving women without access to safe abortion services.

Whole Women's Health Protest II

The platform coincides with the selection of Mike Pence as Donald Trump’s running mate, making a potential Trump presidency a guaranteed disaster for women at home and around the world. Mike Pence, who is currently the Indiana governor, is not only a climate-change denier, but also a strong proponent of hateful “conversation therapy programs” for gay people and a class one opponent of women’s rights.

As both a member of Congress and as governor, Mike Pence has done everything he could to eliminate women’s access to vital health care services. In 2011, he wrote the first bill to completely defund Planned Parenthood. He also co-sponsored a bill that would make invasive transvaginal ultrasounds a requirement for women seeking abortions across the country.

As Governor, he created a bill to prohibit private insurance providers from covering abortion services in Indiana. He also championed a law requiring that fetal remains be cremated or buried after an abortion – or a miscarriage. He has been mocked widely for the latter law, which lead to the creation of“Periods for Pence,” a movement that mobilized women to call his office and provide details of their menstrual periods in protest.

Whether it is in the platform, in the dozens of TRAP laws across the country, or in their nominee and his running mate, we have now seen that there is no limit to how far the GOP will go to control women’s bodies. It is 2016. The rest of the world is moving towards expanding rights for women and LGBT communities. We cannot go backwards. We cannot sit idly by as they attack the ideals that make America, taking away women’s rights, attacking civil rights, and promoting intolerance and hatred.

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