Republicans' Playbook on Women Gets Even Scarier

MILWAUKEE, WI - NOVEMBER 10:  Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks during the Republican Presidential Debate sp
MILWAUKEE, WI - NOVEMBER 10: Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks during the Republican Presidential Debate sponsored by Fox Business and the Wall Street Journal at the Milwaukee Theatre November 10, 2015 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The fourth Republican debate is held in two parts, one main debate for the top eight candidates, and another for four other candidates lower in the current polls. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Last week, Ted Cruz promoted the endorsement of Troy Newman, an anti-choice leader who has gone so far as to say that a perfectly biblical society would execute its abortion providers.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Ted Cruz is so thrilled that someone who wants abortion providers to be killed is supporting him that he actually sent out a press release to celebrate the endorsement. Is that what this Republican primary has come to? Presidential candidates applauding -- not denouncing -- these radically extreme positions? Regardless of one's view on abortion rights, I would hope we can all agree that abortion providers do not deserve to be put to death for their entirely legal work. For a presidential candidate to not immediately distance himself from an endorsement from someone like Newman -- and instead to actively promote it -- is horrifying.

Sadly, though, it's indicative of just how extreme this year's Republican presidential primary has become. All of the GOP candidates have been fighting over who can be the most anti-choice, who can most restrict a woman's ability to make her own decisions. As a lifelong activist for civil liberties and a woman's right to choose, it horrifies me that the Republicans hoping to be the next leader of the United States still attack women's rights in an attempt to get a bump in the polls from their far-right base.

Women made up 53 percent of the electorate in 2012. And not only are abortion rights the law of the land, but they're supported by 78 percent of all Americans -- which includes plenty of men and women from both parties -- who believe that abortion should be legal in at least some cases. That just doesn't seem to register with the Republican presidential candidates. In the first Republican debate, Marco Rubio felt the need to clarify to the moderator that he's so anti-choice that he opposes not just most abortions, but all abortions; he's against rape and incest exceptions in abortion bans. Jeb Bush brags that he's the "most pro-life governor in modern times." When he was governor of Florida, he went so far as to try to stop a mentally disabled 22-year-old rape survivor from having an abortion.

Under John Kasich's watch, the number of abortion clinics in Ohio has halved, making it increasingly difficult for women to access abortion regardless of the fact that the Supreme Court has recognized it as a constitutional right. Republicans aren't only attacking abortion rights -- they're attacking women's health in general. They all support defunding Planned Parenthood, which provides birth control, cancer screenings, and other critical services to millions of people ever year. They're all outspoken critics of the Affordable Care Act, even though it enables women to access free, life-saving preventative care. The Republican candidates all oppose important economic priorities -- like raising the minimum wage or effective paid leave policies -- that would especially help women and families. Women across the country, in particular low-income women, can't afford a president who will hack away at reproductive choices, economic mobility, and healthcare access to curry favor with the radical fringe who now are calling all the shots in the Republican party.

In our country, no one should tolerate calls to put someone to death because of his or her legal profession. It would seem that in this Republican primary, "pro-life" means only what will garner the most votes.