Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the new chair of the Democratic National Committee, said Thursday morning that Republicans are "anti-woman" and are waging "war on women" in pursuit of an "extremely radical social agenda." What about her Democratic colleagues who voted the same way as Republicans to cut off taxpayer-funding of abortion and/or Planned Parenthood? Are they "anti-woman" as well? "No," said Wasserman Schultz. They get a pass.
"It's just so hard for me to grasp how they [Republicans] can be as anti-woman as they are," Wasserman Schultz told reporters at a breakfast meeting sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. She continued: "I think that the pushback and the guttural reaction from women against the Republicans' agenda out of the gate, the war on women that the Republicans have been waging since they took over the House, I think is not only going to restore but help us exceed the president's margin of victory in the next election."
When I asked Wasserman Schultz if her attack on pro-life Republicans also applies to pro-life Democrats who voted for the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," she said it did not. One big reason the pro-life Democrats were exempt, she claimed, is that all of them voted "not to defund Planned Parenthood." But that's not true. Ten Democrats voted to defund Planned Parenthood:
Dan Boren, Okla.
Jerry Costello, Ill.
Dan Lipinski, Ill.
Mike McIntyre, N.C.
Collin Peterson, Minn.
Nick Rahall, W.Va.
Silvestre Reyes, Tex.
Mike Ross, Ark.
Heath Shuler, N.C.
Wasserman Schultz was elevated to head the DNC largely because she's known for being an aggressive attack dog, but her harsh words could put her at odds with pro-life members she's supposed to support as head of the Democratic National Committee.
Here's a transcript of my conversation with Wasserman Schultz:
TWS: You mentioned earlier that Republicans have an extreme social agenda. They're waging a war on women, that they're anti-woman. Would those words, fairly harsh, also apply to the 16 Democrats who voted for the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act...
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, if you look at their record as a whole, all of them voted not to defund Title X, not to defund Planned Parenthood. So, when I make a harsh characterization of Republicans, it's in their platform, it's their third most important priority, by indication of it being H.R. 3 was ending--was getting rid of Planned Parenthood funding, redefining rape so that you could not get access to an abortion paid with federal funds unless you were forcibly raped. So statutory rape didn't count,* date rapes didn't count, for a while incest, unless you were a minor, didn't count. So if you look on balance at their entire record, their record is anti-woman. Their record is a war on women. And it's a priority for them.
TWS: But for the 16 Democrats who also voted for H.R. 3, are they also waging a war on women?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No, they're not, because they don't have the same record--
TWS: But there were eleven [correction: ten] Democrats who voted against funding for Planned Parenthood, so are those eleven Democrats anti-woman?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No, they're not, because if you, when I declare someone, when I make a broad statement like that, I look at the balance of somebody's--where their priorities are, the balance of their record. And so one individual isolated vote here and there does not make you anti-woman.
TWS: So what are the broader votes that make those Democrats who voted on those same issues--on Planned Parenthood on H.R. 3--what makes them not anti-woman?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I don't think there are any Democrats.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Now I'd have to check. But I don't think there are any Democrats who voted yes on all of those provisions. I don't think any of them did. I whipped the vote. I'm pretty sure I'm right.
It's true that no Democrats voted for H.R. 1, the House Republicans original budget that passed in February, which zeroed out Title X contraception funding. But most pro-life Republicans, including Mike Pence opposed that underlying measure, despite their vote for the budget as a whole. They simply want to ensure that Title X funds don't go to groups that perform abortions.
*As for Wasserman Schultz's claims that Republicans sought to "redefine rape" in H.R. 3, that's not true either.
Update: Marjorie Dannenfelser of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List responds:
Pro-life Republican and Democrat women have fought for over a century against institutions that exploit women like Planned parenthood. This organization has an abortion centered corporate model and have proved eager to facilitate the sexual exploitation and trafficking of young women.
Polling consistently shows that opposition to abortion is opposed equally by men and women. Such divisiveness -- their sole approach to gender politics -- will not lead to good result ever.
Update II: A statement from Kristen Day, head of Democrats for Life: "We endorse the cuts to Planned Parenthood and support bans on taxpayer funding of abortion. However, we oppose the Republican budget's devastating cuts to health care, nutrition, and maternal benefits support for the poor. The horror of the budget is not what it does to contraception, but what it does to poor pregnant women and infants."