Just when you thought that the level of debate among the Republican candidates for president couldn't sink any lower, along comes Ted Cruz, with one of those "wait... what?" moments that are simply beyond belief.
"I have been a conservative my entire life. I have never met anybody, any conservative who wants to ban contraceptives," he continued.
Cruz then suggested there is little reason for anyone to worry about not having access to condoms.
"Last I checked, we don't have a rubber shortage in America," Cruz exasperatingly said to the rather boisterous crowd. "Like look, when I was in college, we had a machine in the bathroom. You put 50 cents in -- and voila!"
Ted Cruz goes on to apply his sophisticated knowledge of reproductive health to the context of the presidential campaign.
Cruz hypothesized that Hillary Clinton will try to use the same tactic over the next year to try to shift the electorate's focus away from other political issues.
"You're Hillary Clinton and you're trying to think, 'How do I run?'" Cruz asked the crowd, saying she would have difficulty campaigning on the economy, health care and foreign policy.
"So what do you do?" he followed. "You go, 'Ah ha! The condom police. I'm going to make up a completely made up threat and try to scare a bunch of folks that are not paying a lot of attention into thinking someone's going to steal their birth control.' What nonsense."
Do we really have to explain to Ted Cruz that condoms aren't the only contraception people use?
Does Ted Cruz think that birth control is only for men? It looks like that's exactly what he thinks.
This would be funny if it wasn't part of a concerted, organized attack on women's access to reproductive health care -- an attack featuring abusive Congressional hearings against Planned Parenthood and over-the-top rhetoric that had deadly consequences last Friday.
Just days before the shooting at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Ted Cruz proudly proclaimed his endorsement by Operation Rescue president Troy Newman.
Scott Roeder, the anti-abortion terrorist who killed abortion provider George Tiller had a signed copy of Newman's book, "Their Blood Cries Out." In his book, Newman likens women who have abortions to "contract killers."
Those responsible for innocent bloodshed should not be excused or comforted in their sin, yet, as a society, women who have abortions are treated as victims and those who support them in the decision to kill are considered heroes who were willing to stand by their friends or family members during a time of crisis. In reality, the woman is the same as a contract killer, hiring out the murder of her defenseless child, and the supporter is a co-conspirator, aiding and abetting the crime. They believe that their charitable act of lending support will some how make up for their participation in murder. Until they can both face the fact that they bear responsibility for the murder of an innocent child and own up to it, there should be no comfort for them.
Ted Cruz couldn't be more proud of his association with the violent fringe of the antiabortion movement. On his website, Cruz hails Troy Newman for being on the Board of the so-called "Center for Medical Progress," the group behind the phony videos that falsely accused Planned Parenthood of illegal activity.
Those faked-up videos crossed the line of decency, humanity and legality. But instead of renouncing them, Republican leaders in Congress are promoting them, along with their talking point about "baby body parts," to advance their political agenda of defunding Planned Parenthood. As I've written before, they won't succeed. The vast majority of people in this country love Planned Parenthood because it provides excellent reproductive health care to millions of women every year. But the relentless vitriol against women's reproductive health care does incite violence.
Katha Pollitt, writing in The New York Times, asked: "Do we want to live in a country where extremists use violence to deny women legal health care, and people whose words may well spur them to action insist they have nothing to do with it?"
Violence against abortion clinics and providers has been part of the so-called pro-life movement virtually since 1973, when the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that abortion is a constitutionally protected right. The National Abortion Federation, the professional association of abortion providers, has recorded a staggering 6,948 acts of violence against clinics and providers between 1977 and 2014, including eight murders, 17 attempted murders, 42 bombings and 182 arsons.
Anti-abortion leaders portray violence as the doings of madmen, and probably some of the perpetrators are indeed unstable. But when prominent voices in the anti-abortion movement compare clinics to Auschwitz, when they equate embryos with slaves, when Bill O'Reilly says that people feel fetal tissue donation is "Nazi stuff" and Rush Limbaugh suggests the way to stop abortion is to "require that each one occur with a gun," it is not surprising that susceptible people will act on what they hear as a call for violence.
Whether it's calling women who exercise their reproductive rights "contract killers" or ignorantly proclaiming condoms as the only form of birth control worth worrying about, women continue to be disrespected, vilified and subject to horrific violence in the name of political debate.
But it's not debate. It's hate speech. We must reject the use of deception and hate to further a discriminatory and extremist ideological agenda.
Yes, Ted Cruz, there is a war on women. And no, Ted Cruz, birth control isn't just about keeping vending machines in men's rooms filled with condoms.