Abortion is still a big issue for some GOP women:
Fuelled by a fear that a Bush victory in next month’s election could lead to many states overturning 30 years of legal terminations in the US, several moderate Republican women are rebelling against the crusade against sex education and unmarried women’s access to contraception.
Linda Binder, a Republican State Senator in the conservative state of Arizona, is typical. Despite voting for Bush in 2000, she has pulled her support over what she calls his ‘wacky, far right’ position on women’s rights.
‘We don’t want to go back to coathanger abortions… As legislators, my fellow moderates are feeling the push for more faith-based programmes on sex education and contraception coming from the Bush administration,’ she said.
Binder, 56, is one of a growing number of Republican women renegades infuriated by Bush’s slogan that the W in his name ‘stands for women’.
Mary Lou Halliburton, a Colorado Republican, is a retired lawyer who worked in the Nixon White House and of the family who founded Halliburton – the company once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney and now enjoying a $7.5bn contract in Iraq.
She helped create a group called Republicans Who Want Their Party Back.
‘Our issues and concerns are everything from foreign policy to deficit spending to choice to stem cell research to the Iraq war,’ she said.
‘It has become illegal here for a girl to get an abortion without her parents’ consent. You cannot legally get the morning after pill – even if you have been raped,’ said Binder.
She will not reveal who she will vote for on 2 November. But many suspect she will vote for Kerry.
Judith Allen, another lifelong Republican, has no reticence. This former Superior Court clerk is a member of Republicans for Kerry, which contributes funds to the Democrats. It is estimated to have many thousands of members.
‘I just do not have the sense that Bush is bright. And I’m embarrassed to say that about our President,’ she said.
Thousands of members of Republicans for Choice went on the March for Women’s Lives, the pro-abortion march in Washington DC last spring. A new fashion item was also first seen at the gathering – T-shirts declaring ‘I’ve had an abortion’. The creator of the T-shirts, New Yorker Jennifer Baumgardner, has since sold 600.