NOW with Alex Wagner | August 28, 2012
>>> it's a phony war on women . there is no war on women . this is a fiction of their imagination. they want women to think that but the fact is women are very capable, competent, intellectual beings. what they know more than anything is they want security for their family and especially for their children.
>> that was minnesota congresswoman and former presidential candidate , michele bachmann last night waving away talk of any so-called war on women . meanwhile, senate candidate elizabeth warren is out with a new tv ad arguing that there is, in fact, a war and it's being fought on multiple fronts.
>> women still don't get equal pay for equal work . republicans blocked that. and even pushed a law that could have denied insurance coverage for birth control . we're still fighting to protect a woman's right to choose nearly 40 years after roe versus wade . we could be just one supreme court justice away from losing it. how can this be happening in 2012 ?
>> and the newly approved republican party platform would seem to point squarely in the direction of a battle against reproductive freedoms. the gop's platform opposes abortion in all cases, including rape and incest, stating quote, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. we support a human life amendment to the constitution. the platform also gives a nod to informed consent , laws that require mandatory ultrasounds and waiting periods for women seeking an abortion. we also salute the many states that have passed laws for informed consent , mandatory waiting periods prior to an abortion and health protective clinic regulation. currently eight statesman date that a woman must undergo an ultrasound if she is seeking an abortion. in texas and louisiana, doctors must show and describe that image to the woman. 26 states require a woman to wait a specified amount of time following a mandatory counseling session before having the procedure. earlier this year, a law backed by virginia governor bob mcdonnell would have forced women to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound if it was early enough in the pregnancy. if it's a war or not, there are many top republican women that share the view that ancient hard-won battles are being refought today. republican senator from maine susan collins told kathleen parker this week it seems like we've been thrown back decades into debates most every day people think were settled years ago. this doesn't mean we're disrespectful to people who hold a different point of view, but the platform seems designed to alienate a lot of moderate women . i don't get it. olympia snowe , also a republican senator from maine, said this is not where i hoped my party would be in 2012 . today the republican party faces a clear challenge, will we rebuild our relationship with women , thereby placing us on the road to success in november, or will we continue to isolate them and certainly lose this election. and on sunday, texas republican senator kay bailey hutchison said abortion cannot be a central part of the republican party .
>> mothers and daughters can disagree on abortion. we shouldn't put a party around an issue that is so personal and also religious based.
>> as republicans try to make the case that their party is not hostile to women , a conservative group is honoring the wife of sheldon adelson with a women 's pavilion in tampa. according to salon.com, the pavilion includes salon services, complimentary women 's products in bathrooms and a woman's suffrage museum. never mind the women got the right to vote 92 years ago. perhaps sometime in the year 2065 , 92 years after roe versus wade , the republican party will finally celebrate a woman's right to make decisions regarding her own body. joining the panel here in new york is the president of planned parenthood , cecile richards . always, always great to see you.
>> great to be here. thanks.
>> let's start first with michele bachmann 's contention that there is no war on women . you have that and then you have leading republican women saying actually, there's a problem in the republican party . can they will this away?
>> i think women are very concerned, i just got back off the road from ohio and virginia and republican women , independent women , are very worried about these attacks on women 's health care . they are certainly concerned about the romney/ryan ticket, because i think not only has mr. romney said that he wants to overturn roe but even more fundamentally, they are saying he wants to end -- get rid of planned parenthood , in his words, and repeal access to birth control through insurance coverage. i think women aren't paranoid. it's actually going on.
>> governor, the thing i don't understand is demographically speaking, this is a no-brainer. 77% of voters believe abortion should be legal in all circumstances or at least under some circumstances. that's 77% of voters. why are they allowing the todd akins of the party or folks at the state level to dictate this conversation? why does no one at the national level which is to say mitt romney or paul ryan , sort of come back to earth and realize where the country's at?
>> i've heard steve talk about this and i talk about it. it's because they're still captives to their base. if mitt romney loses this election it will be because he was captive to the base and never broke out. what he should do in that speech, he should say look, i respect all of you who wrote this platform, but i want the american people to understand that when it comes to abortion, if someone is the victim of rape and incest, i will support their right to get an abortion under those limited circumstances. he might even get booed in the hall. but it's not the hall that counts, it's the viewers that count. don't you agree?
>> i agree. i'm struck, though, you put those statistics up, you look within the republican party , you'll find i think 66% of women and 62% of men say that abortion should be illegal in most or all circumstances. what's striking really to me is when you look back historically, it's hard to believe now, but as recently as the late 1970s , pro choice on abortion was a common position in the republican part. gerald ford , republican president, pro-choice. gerald ford issued a proclamation saying put the equal rights amendment into the constitution. the turning point came in 1980 when the republicans nominated ronald reagan , who made an alliance with the religious right and that's when you got the human rights amendment into the platform and that was the first time since 1940 the equal rights amendment was not part of the republican platform. it's never come back since. that's when the gender gap in modern american politics was born.
>> how insane is it to make personhood which was rejected overwhelmingly in mississippi, to make that part of your platform?
>> cecile, the thing, it's a smoke and mirrors game. ann romney will go up there, this is a big night for her, she will be humanizing her husband, but then you have the record. we pointed it out, going into this block, and gave $150 to planned parenthood in 1994 and doesn't really have an explanation for that. paul ryan 's wife is a democrat. the women in their lives theoretically don't agree with them on some of these major planks.
>> and women across america don't agree with them. that's the point that mitt romney and paul ryan are running for president and mitt romney has made his positions very clear. honestly, i think for women who are looking to see where is mitt romney going to come down on basic health care issues for women , he chose paul ryan , who has been a leader in the house of representatives to get rid of planned parenthood , end the national family planning program that was signed into law by richard nixon . this is a bipartisan program, provides five million women with cancer screenings and birth control . get rid of that, redefine rape. this is a very extreme ticket when it comes to women 's health issues and women , republican women in particular, are very concerned.
>> i have to ask you before we go, has planned parenthood seen an uptick in interest or donations since the paul ryan choice was announced?
>> that's what i'm seeing on the road. republicans for planned parenthood is growing by leaps and bounds. folks feel like the republican party historically had a very conservative position about government, that it doesn't belong in people's personal lives, and i think a lot of planned parenthoods were started by republicans . the goldwaters back in arizona. i think this republican ticket and frankly this republican congress does not look like what we think of as traditional republicans .
>> well, it will be interesting to see what happens with republicans and women on the road to november. cecile richards , thank you for joining us. it is a pleasure and honor.
>>> after the break, as the gop tries to distance itself from the views of congressman todd akin , paul ryan struggles to explain a bill he once co-sfon sored that included language limited federally funded abortions to cases of quote, forcible rape .
>> this is language that was stock language used for lots of different bills, bills i didn't author, and that language was removed to be very clear and i agree with that, removing that language so we are very clear. rape is rape, period, end of story.
>> we will discuss ryan's stock language and whether the republican ticket is a bad choice for women , next. i' alo