Uncivil War

Uncivil War
Photograph by Jana Birchum/Austin Chronicle

It’s the Year of the Dragon, officially, but you could be forgiven for thinking that it’s the Year of the War on Women, or the War Over Women, or the War Among Women, or the War About Whether There Is a War on Women. The trouble began in January, when a high-profile tussle between the Dallas-based breast cancer advocacy foundation Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Planned Parenthood brought the country’s tensions over abortion once more to the forefront. Komen had sought to eliminate its grants to Planned Parenthood, which, in addition to providing breast cancer screenings and a host of other health services for women (and some men), is also the nation’s largest provider of abortions. (The procedure represents 3 percent of its total services, which are used by one in five women during their lifetimes.) The response was ferocious, and Komen was quickly compelled to reverse its decision. This being an election year, the issue was instantly rated for campaign value. Democrats took to the airwaves to assault the latest front in a conservative “war on women,” and this bit of overheated rhetoric drove the so-called gender gap between President Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney to a whopping nineteen points (it has since subsided to single digits). 

The notion that one of our political parties has declared war against all women is obviously a crude form of pandering (there are, needless to say, many millions of women who are conservative Republicans). But it found traction (the


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