I am surprised. Maybe I shouldn’t be, but–no wait- I should be shocked that a Governor easily said, in the presence of other women and with a TV audience of mostly women on Tuesday‘s episode of The View, that “Women don’t care about contraception.“ When I first saw a graphic from MoveOn.org showing the quote on a picture on South Carolina’s Republican Governor, Nikki Haley, I thought it must be fake, even though the quote was cited. She’s a woman! How could she legitimately not know that other women care about being able to manage when and if they have children? It’s impossible. For some reason, she’s lying. And while it’s an obviously false lie, we’re hearing it all the time.
Near the end of the segment, Elizabeth Hasselbeck asked Gov. Haley a great question.
A lot of the time people associate women’s rights with liberals, right, and not Republican women. So how do you say, yes, I- we are here representing women, I am working right now for government. How do you put that out there in terms of Republicans versus liberals?
And considering that the question led off of Governor Haley speaking about being able to represent the needs of women and encouraging women to run…
That’s part of what happens, but it’s also why women need to get involved in office. It’s why we need real people running for office, because we need to make sure we’re getting our experiences out, and we’re telling our story, and in the book, you hear, ‘Yes, I went through a lot of challenges, but we overcame them.’ What a blessed country we are that we can now do that and that my parents can now see this happen.”
…it’s mind-boggling that her answer to Hasselbeck’s question would include something so outrageously false as “Women don’t care about contraception.“
Nikki Haley: All of my policy is not based on a label, it’s based on what I lived and what I know. Women don’t care about contraception. They care about jobs and the economy and raising their family and all those things.
Joy Behar: Women care about contraception, too!
Nikki Haley: But that’s not the only thing they care about. The media wants to talk about contraception.
Joy Behar: Well, when Rick Santorum says he’s going to take it away, we care!
Nikki Haley: Well…while we care about contraception, let’s be clear. All we’re saying is we don’t want government to mandate when we have to have it and when we don’t. We want to be able to make that decision. We don’t need the government making that decision for us.
Okay now I’m really confused. I’m also amazed at how, not just out-of-touch, but all over the map her response is. Haley says that her policy positions are influenced by her experience, and, making the easy assumption that she is part of the 99% of women who have used contraception, using and needing contraception is a part of her experience. So, given her (highly likely) personal experience, how can she say that having access to contraception isn’t a big deal for women?
And then, as rote, she blames the media. She’s right that there is a lot of media coverage on reproductive health issues, but she’s acting as if it’s strange that that would be the case. The attacks on birth control and abortion are extreme measures. Creating restrictions and institutional shame around reproductive health issues cause extreme consequences for women. So why wouldn’t the media pay attention to this? Why would Gov. Haley think that the media was doing something suspicious or uncalled for by reporting on stories that greatly effect the wide majority of women and girls?
Then she tries to claim that the conversation or debate we’re having about contraception is about the government forcing women to use contraception and the government telling women that they can only use contraception at certain points in their lives. How did she even come up with that? Neither of those ideas are being questioned at all! How is it possible that she actually thinks that that’s what all the fighting is about? It just can’t be the case. She tries to say that “big government” is bad, yet, in truth, Republicans rely on expanding government into the personal lives, and uteruses, of women.
She finishes by trying to circle back to the idea that women do want to manage their fertility and that they deserve to and are capable of managing their fertility without government intrusion. And while I agree, isn’t it an empty sentiment coming from someone who thinks that “women don’t care about contraception,” that attacks on contraception aren’t newsworthy, and that the actual problem is the government trying to force more women to use contraception?
Even though Nikki Haley is a woman who has presumably used contraception, she has chosen to present herself as someone who dismisses the thought that contraception is of any priority to women. To me, this is problematic beyond the extent that it displays how out-of-touch she is. The most problematic part is that in dismissing the issue, she is dismissing the 99% of women who rely on birth control and the significant percentage of those women who have difficulty in accessing the method of birth control that will be most effective and convenient for them.
Gov. Nikki Haley may never have had a problem with accessing contraception, so for her, working through the barriers may have never been an issue that needed to be a priority. But for the women who don’t have health insurance, who don’t regularly see a gynecologist, who cannot afford the full price of their preferred method, or who are young women who don’t have experience seeking reproductive health care and may be limited by abstinence-only programs, Gov. Haley’s claim that “women don’t care about contraception” is extremely dismissive of women who are forced to prioritize how and where to get contraception.
Women care about contraception. Women obviously care about contraception. The outrage across the country against the attacks on women’s health care prove this point. I can’t believe I’m actually in a position where I have to say that women do in fact care about reproductive rights. I am done with conservatives, regardless of gender, lying about what’s important to women’s health, assuming they know better than I do about my own body.