Commentary: S.C. Gov. Haley got it wrong on contraception

The Rock Hill HeraldApril 8, 2012 

Rest easy, we apparently won’t be seeing a Romney-Haley ticket this year.

Gov. Nikki Haley recently avowed that she would decline any offer to be Republican Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential nominee or, for that matter, to serve in any other capacity in his administration.

“If offered any position by Gov. Romney, I would say no,” she said “The people of South Carolina gave me a chance. I have a job to do and I’m not going to leave my job for anything.”

Of course, the Shermanesque refusal to accept the veep offer might have been unnecessary. Romney might not have been planning to make the offer in the first place.

If his team was watching “The View” Tuesday, it surely would have raised doubts about Haley’s ability to deliver the women’s vote if she were on the ticket.

Haley was on the show to plug her new autobiography, “Can’t Is Not An Option.” After a few softball questions from the four hosts, Haley was asked about her views on women’s rights.

Inexplicably, Haley volunteered: “Women don’t care about contraception. They care about jobs and the economy and raising their families ...”

At that point she was cut off by Joy Behar, one of the hosts, who said, “Well, they care about contraception, too.” Behar then alluded to Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s public disdain for birth control when it conflicts with religious values.

“Well, the media cares about contraception,” Haley countered, “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 government making that decision for us.”

Huh? That’s exactly backwards from what has occurred in the recent brouhaha over providing free contraceptives to women.

The uproar started because new rules in the Affordable Health Care Act – “Obamacare” to its detractors – require most employers to provide free contraceptives to employees through company health plans. While churches and religious institutions would be exempt, church-affiliated organizations such as hospitals and schools would have to allow employees to get contraceptives from insurers that cover the organizations’ health care.

In other words, government isn’t trying to mandate when women can have contraception or when they con’t. Obamacare is trying to ensure that women can get free contraceptives whenever they need them.

Who’s making that decision? Women, not the government.

Blasting the federal government is Haley’s default argument for just about anything – that is, when she’s not blasting the media. But her argument in this case is preposterous; it just makes no sense.

Also, it’s worth noting that if women care about jobs and raising their families, they’re also likely to care about family planning. Career women, such as Haley, don’t necessarily want to be getting pregnant every year.

The unwillingness of Haley and other Republicans to acknowledge the importance of contraception to female voters and the failure to recognize their distaste for a host of state bills requiring unnecessary and often invasive medical procedures before qualifying to get an abortion have hurt the party. That’s the case in the presidential race and probably in other races, as well.

According to the latest Gallup Poll, President Obama now has a 19-point lead over Romney among all female voters, up from 12 points before the GOP’s so-called “war on women” heated up. Obama holds a two-to-one lead among women under 50.

And, not surprisingly, one quarter of women polled said the issue of birth control is “extremely” important to their vote.

Gov. Haley, apparently some women do care about contraception. A lot.

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