Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has an odd notion of what he believes is driving the Democratic Party's push to make insurance companies cover contraceptives for women.
"If the Democrats want to insult women by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it," the former Republican presidential candidate said during a speech at the Republican National Committee's Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.
"Let us take this discussion all across America, because women are far more than the Democrats have played them to be, and women across America need to stand up and say, 'Enough of this nonsense!'" he added.
His rhetorical barrage was anchored in the premise that Republicans in states across the country are not engaging in what Democrats call a "war on women." He insisted that the party's intense focus on passing laws that limit access to abortion and other women's health services is "not a war on them, it's a war for them."
Democratic rhetoric about a Republican "war on women" intensified during the 2012 presidential election, when women sided with President Obama by a double-digit margin. The rhetoric is not without basis. Republicans have passed 205 new restrictions on reproductive freedom since the 2010 state and congressional elections, according to a study by the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute.
But that's apparently not enough for many of the party's leading voices. Republicans are particularly upset about a provision in the Affordable Care Act which requires that health insurance companies provide female contraceptives at no cost to the customer. The president and his allies point out that the rule was put in place to achieve greater equality in the health insurance marketplace, where most policies offer coverage for male reproductive health concerns like erectile dysfunction and penile implants, but very few offer coverage for birth control or abortion.
Considering that Republicans are actively fighting equal treatment for women in the healthcare marketplace, Huckabee's argument that his party "stands for the recognition of the equality of women" is a particularly creative use of the facts.