On Wednesday night, Rachel Maddow devoted a segment of her show to examining the Republican Party’s decision to double down on its anti-choice stance, in spite of the fact that it appears to be driving women away from the party and worsening Republicans’ gender gap.
She began by explaining what buffer zones are, areas beyond which it is unlawful to protest. There are buffer zones in polling places to keep people from harassing voters. There are now buffer zones at military funerals thanks to parishioners of the Westboro Baptist Church, who harass mourners in the name of God.
There are also buffer zones around clinics that provide abortions. In 1994, a black clad gunman walked into two women’s clinics in Brookline, Massachusetts and opened fire, killing two clinic workers and injuring others. Women’s clinics have been bombed, broken into and burned.
The law establishing buffer zones around Massachusetts clinics is currently in the hands of the Supreme Court.
“This year, everybody sort of expects that the Court’s going to rule against the Massachusetts law,” Maddow said, “or at least they’re going to weaken it.”
If the conservative-heavy court rules against the 35-foot buffer zone, Maddow said, “that ruling could have reverberations not just for Massachusetts, but for any state with a buffer zone set up for clinics that provide abortions” in the interest of protecting patients and staff.
Each year on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision which made abortion a right, anti-choice activists stage the annual “March for Life,” a Republican-heavy event that, this year, saw an unprecedented amount of support from the Republican Party.
Several Republican politicians attended the rally or spoke, including RNC Chairperson Reince Priebus. The party chartered a bus to carry members to and from the march.
House Republicans are drafting their first set of legislative proposals of the year, many of which are wildly anti-choice.
“That was the very first thing that the House Judiciary Committee decided to work on this year,” Maddow said. “And all the male Republicans on that committee — which is all the Republicans on that committee — they all voted for it.”
In 2012, the party lost big with women, who voted for President Barack Obama and other Democrats by huge margins. The RNC’s Priebus commissioned an “autopsy” report to determine what went wrong, and found that the Republican Party’s viciously anti-woman rhetoric about rape and abortion has driven women away from the party.
But, rather than soften their anti-choice position, Republicans appear braced and ready to spend another year hammering away at women’s right to choose.
She welcomed BuzzFeed’s DC bureau chief John Stanton, who explained that opposition to abortion rights is one of the last things the GOP can use as a means of uniting its base.
“They see this as a very good political issue,” Stanton said. “They don’t have an illusions that this will actually pass” and that abortion will become illegal. They just see it as a way to “gin up their base.”
Most Democrats look at this strategy, Maddow said, and say, “I can’t believe Republicans are shooting themselves in the foot like this.”
Watch the video, embedded below: