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Women's Issues Cause NY Republican Lawmaker to Support Obama

By Suzi LeVeaux - Posted on 08 March 2012

Questions about women and women's health have dominated the political debate over the past weeks, and at least one female Republican lawmaker is unhappy with her party’s record. New York Assemblyman Teresa Sayward (R), who is retiring after serving a decade in Albany, told the New York political program Capital Tonight that she does not support any of her party’s presidential candidates, because of their stances on women.

She also took an apparent shot at Republicans’ opposition to President Obama’s birth control mandate, saying, “It’s disheartening for me to see our party move away from what it was always about and that is to stay out of people’s lives, let them live their lives, don’t impose their religion on anybody else.”

z-Wald on Mar 8, 2012 at 2:15 pm

New York Assemb. Teresa Sayward (R)

Questions about women and womens’ health have dominated the political debate over the past weeks, and at least one female Republican lawmaker is unhappy with her party’s record. New York Assemblyman Teresa Sayward (R), who is retiring after serving a decade in Albany, told the New York political program Capital Tonight that she does not support any of her party’s presidential candidates, because of their stances on women.

She also took an apparent shot at Republicans’ opposition to President Obama’s birth control mandate, saying, “It’s disheartening for me to see our party move away from what it was always about and that is to stay out of people’s lives, let them live their lives, don’t impose their religion on anybody else.”

Asked which Republican candidate she supports, Sayward replied:

SAYWARD: I do not have a favorite in the presidential race, if I had to vote today, I’d vote for Obama.


SAYWARD: Absolutely… Because I really, truly think that the candidates that are out there today for the Republican side would take women back decades.


It's almost unbelievable to me that we are fighting this battle, again, in 2012!  Roe vs Wade has been the law of the land since 1973. .Social conservatives have conveniently lost sight of the fact that Roe v. Wade was based on the Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment 'due process' clause guaranteeing each individual a right to privacy, free from unwarranted government intrusion and that Constitutional protection for the use of contraceptives was affirmed by the Supreme Court in 1965.   Contraception is not only a health issue and a personal choice, but is the biggest deterent to abortion there is. 

I am personally pro-life, but realize that is based on my personal feelings and my religious convictions.  I understand I have no right to impose those beliefs on anyone else.

After weeks (months?) of Republican candidates embarrassing themselves with religious zealotry dominating the primary season, the relentless assault on a woman's health care choices can be expected to turn Republican and Independent women, and the men who support them, away from the eventual Republican candidate.

I applaud Ms.Sayward for being outspoken on this issue, and I know our very own Kelly must be so proud!

I applaud Ms. Sayward's convictions. But, like Sen Olympia Snowe of Maine, she is not going to be seeking re-election. I wonder what would have happened if she had tried to seek re-election? GOP backlash perhaps?

At any rate, the GOP candidates trying to inject social issues into the election campaign may be winning issues during the primaries, but they sure won't be in the G.E. I expect the party's eventual nominee (except if it happens to be Rick Santorum) to try to steer clear of such issues, and try to direct the conversation back to the economy and national debt.

Congratulations, Kelly. Your voice probably raised some eyebrows!

I am one proud New Yorker! After I lobbied many Republican lawmakers to support gay marriage in NY and it actually worked, I knew this was a great state to live! And now this honest, powerful reflection from Ms. Sayward just reminds me that people aren't leaving the Republican Party and abandoning the values and beliefs that brought them to the party. The Republican Party is abandoning us, especially women and minorities. I agree that this "brave stance" probably would not have happened if she was not retiring. Sure, she may have secretly voted for Pres. Obama but would not dare to speak out with the GOP body guards keeping control of any rebels. But, hey, better late than never. I am cheering loudly. And check out the comments after this article about it Republicans for Obama is mentioned a few times : )

It's never tooate... Thank you Ms. sayward

I am curious, as to how many Republican women(That vote Republican) do you think will continue this election? It boggles the mind that ANY woman would, but you know it will happen. I'm asking here because I personally don't know any of this species. Maybe some of you that have family or friends that are still staunch Republicans might have some insight?



Fair question... I have several female friends who are staunch Republicans.  The best way to explain is how one of them described how she'll vote:  "As long as the candidate has an R behind their name."  The women's issues haven't fazed her at all because she's going to vote the R no matter who the candidate is. 

My guess is that it's the women who consider themselves Independent rather than one of the two major parties who will be a big determining factor, this year especially. 

Joe Scarborough (from Morning Joe) keeps talking about how his very conservative Pro-Life wife is at wits end with this contraceptive attack and the general anti-women message coming from her party. Not sure if she'd actually vote for Obama, but she is NOT happy with the alternatives. I know Republican women-some pretty faithful-also grumbling about this apparent "war on women" and they are saying things like "maybe President Obama isn't so bad." I predict that Republican support for Pres. Obama, in general, will double from 2008 (it was 9% in 2008-I think it will be about 18% this time)-and the main reason for that jump will be Republican women. I think McCain got 43% of the women vote in 2008. I don't see the GOP ticket getting much beyond 35% this time. Maybe I'm too optimistic but the GOP has really destroyed its chances with this major misstep on contraception and all the obsession with abortion and the government wanting to get into a woman's vagina. Even Pro-Life women are not ok with such extremism. I imagine that Romney could choose a woman as his VP and that might help a little (as long as she is intelligent and articulate unlike Palin...can anyone think of a good Republican woman that would help him?) But even with that, so much damage has been done that I don't think even that could save them. How could a female running for VP express support for the Blunt Amendment, which she would have to do since Romney embraced it?

 I have been listening to Scarborough's week-long pitch about how upset his staunchly conservative wife and her women friends are  about the Republican push on birth control and women's reproductive rights. How come she doesn't speak for herself? She has been in public life. Her name is Susan Waren. She is a former Florida GOP political professional, having worked as a congressional staffer and an aide to Jeb Bush.   There is something about Scarborough constantly referencing these "conservative women" talking in the kitchen of his house that seems to invert the whole point of GOP women responding assertively to this attack on their independence.

Wow-Tom you are really up on your politics. I had no idea his wife was in the field of politics as well. Why wouldn't he have her on the program to speak for herself or just to call in? You are right. If she is so independent, why is he speaking FOR her? In looking her up to learn about her past positions, I learned Scarborough was divorced and was even accused of having something to do with a mysterious death of a woman he may have had an affair with before he suddenly resigned for "family reasons." Wow-TMI...I thought he was just a nerdy, boring, egomaniac.

I am in awe of this whole election process! ---I wish there were enough moderate republicans in congress and in the house to work with President Obama. I think it is so sad that we have this serious contention between the parties because at the end of the day, we are all Americans. I am sure the world is looking on in shock at our political debacle!!  There is definitely extremism on both sides. Isn’t it challenging howt President Obama has to balance both ideologues?? I think he has done a pretty good job at being a centrist. Unfortunately, the right wing conservatives are implementing policies that stifle women’s right (contraception), worker’s unions, and voter rights. Several states have implemented harsh immigration reforms to deport immigrants and punish employers who hire them; however, the agenda behind these policies is to silence the voices of minorities, create fear and intimidation. Ultimately, if they can suppress the voters, they will succeed at their conservative agenda (theocracy).

Because the social issues are so strong, it could trump a lagging economy. I know the conventional wisdom says that the economy is the deciding factor in who people will elect as President; however, we are dealing with a very volatile social agenda today and I believe it will not go away in the general election. I know the republican candidates want to rewrite the discussion to focus on the economy but the American people has awaken to a whole new reality that is not about to disappear!! ---The Republican nominee must address the social issues in the general election because many states have implemented laws affecting social issues; therefore, social issues will be front and center of the debate with the economy in the general election. Also, so many Americans have become politically savvy since the election of President Obama; consequently, a large portion of Americans will not buy the usual political sabotage during the presidential campaign. People desire to see concrete ideas on where the candidates fall on the social and economic agendas. Too many things have been said and done by these presidential candidates!!

I believe the eventual GOP nominee (probably Romney, but could be someone else like Santorum) will be wise to try to steer the discussion AWAY from social issues, which I think would be a definite loser for the GOP. And, since it looks like the economy is coming back moderately, the issues for Republicans to hammer on will have to be the national debt, and that the economy is still not as strong as it could be, and Obama's policies held back the economic recovery. Personally, I don't think that particular line of attack is likely to work, but it has a better chance than hamnmering on social issues.

And, on the theocracy thing, every candidate except Santorum would probably be opposed to that, even in spite of the GOP's evangelical base. It is just another wedge to keep the evangelicals fired up. Instead of trying to establish a theocracy in America, I think it is just abject stupidity on the part of the far right. They really think their way is correct, and will eventually succeed.

wcolin I hope religion does not dominate the political system. I am sure that religion will not drive at the federal level but at the State and local level, there could be subliminal subtle traces of religion like the forced vagnal ultrasounds. I realize that the Republicans here on this site vary in the interpretation of BIG Governent but I would like to post what has happened since the vast election of Republicans throughout the states:

Republicans controlled all the levers of government in a staggering number of states in 2011 — and it showed.

Holding a lock on the governorship and both houses of the legislature in 20 states, GOP conservatives advanced an agenda that may change the face of state government for decades. They honored pledges not to raise taxes by enacting huge spending cuts to balance budgets in Florida and Texas. They put tough abortion limits back on the agenda, passing laws in Alabama, Kansas and Oklahoma. Most famously, Republicans in Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin put new restrictions on the rights of public employees, whose protests made national news for a month. 

These were the results of an historic election last November, one that created vast shifts in power in statehouses across the country. Almost all of it went in the Republicans’ favor. The GOP picked up more than 500 legislative seats, winning their biggest majority of seats nationally since 1928. Republicans snatched 13 House chambers, seven Senate chambers and 11 governorships out of Democratic hands, and in Maine and Wisconsin they wrested control of all three.

Even in some states where Republicans had long held power — such as Texas — they gained such dominant new legislative majorities that Democrats could no longer rely on procedural tactics they had previously used to derail proposals they vehemently opposed.

Turning politics into policy

Suddenly, Republicans enjoyed not only a staggering amount of leverage in state legislatures but also support from discontented voters to make major changes. And in the ongoing fiscal crisis states have been experiencing, many Republicans saw not a calamity but an opportunity to actually shrink government by reducing spending. They dispatched Democratic opposition with ease as they approved major budget cuts alongside long-stalled policy changes that previously couldn’t attract enough votes to pass.

In Oklahoma, where Republicans took control of both the governorship and legislature for the first time ever, the GOP achieved a huge party objective: They rewrote tort rules to limit the damages that lawsuit filers can collect.

In Florida, Republican Tea Party favorite Rick Scott replaced the independent Charlie Crist in the governor’s office and oversaw a dramatic revamping of the state’s Medicaid system. Essentially, Florida is converting Medicaid entirely into a managed care model of service.

Maine’s new Republican leadership took concrete steps toward repealing the state’s Democratic-approved experiment in universal health care, known as Dirigo Health. A spokesman for Governor Paul LePage, another Tea Party-backed executive, pledged gleefully that “Dirigo will be Diri-gone.”

In Michigan, new GOP leaders made the state the first in more than 50 years to scale back state-level unemployment benefits. They reduced the length of time workers could receive benefits from 26 weeks to 20. Conservatives in Florida and Missouri soon followed. 



Social legislation found plenty of success, too. Indiana, where Republicans took control of the legislature, became the first state to cut off government funding for Planned Parenthood. It was one of dozens of new GOP-supported laws around the country curtailing abortion rights. In Alabama, where Republicans retained the governor’s office and took control of the legislature for the first time since Reconstruction, lawmakers passed an immigration crackdown that goes even further than last year’s lightning-rod measure in Arizona. Newly empowered Republicans required voters to show photo ID in Alabama, Kansas, South Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin, with dozens of similar measures being debated around the country.

Public workers targeted

Perhaps more than any other issue, this year’s state legislative sessions are likely to be defined in the public consciousness by the GOP-led clampdown on public workers. The movement sparked furious protests that began in February in the snow-covered streets of Madison and Columbus but soon spilled over into capitals as far afield as Maine and Texas. Collectively, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to register their unhappiness with what they saw as a blind-side attack on unions and public employees by overreaching Republican majorities.

Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin — all of them run by Republicans after November’s elections — passed measures limiting collective bargaining rights for public employees. Given the Midwest’s long pro-union history, such measures would have been unthinkable under Democratic or mixed-party rule.

In Indiana and Wisconsin, minority Democrats took the almost unheard-of step of fleeing the state to deny Republicans a quorum to pass their legislation, though both states eventually passed measures anyway. Indiana limited bargaining rights for teachers, while Wisconsin approved a much broader limitation of bargaining rights for teachers, state workers and others. Wisconsin’s new law is being challenged in court, and protesters and counter-protesters are engineering a series of highly unusual recall elections in an attempt to oust lawmakers on both sides of the issue, as well as Governor Scott Walker.

In Ohio, where Republican Governor John Kasich signed an even tougher collective bargaining measure than Wisconsin’s, opponents are vowing to repeal the new law with a referendum in November. In Tennessee, where Republican Governor Bill Haslam’s victory in November gave the GOP complete control of state government for the first time since 1869, lawmakers responded by eliminating many collective bargaining rights for teachers and creating a new bargaining process called “collaborative conferencing.” Unions complained that it would give them a fraction of their former rights.

But it was not just collective bargaining limits that infuriated public workers. More broadly, teachers saw wide-ranging changes to K-12 classrooms as an attack on their livelihoods.

In Texas, teachers protested by the tens of thousands in March as the Republican-dominated legislature pressed forward with what is likely to be a $4 billion cut to K-12 education, threatening thousands of teacher jobs. Florida and Nevada modified teacher tenure rules, making layoffs easier.

Nationally, no new Republican governor seemed to embody the new GOP spirit more than Walker of Wisconsin. For weeks, raucous protesters massed outside his capitol office in Madison while shouting denunciations of his collective-bargaining bill. But Walker rejected any assertion that his party took the public by surprise, arguing instead that elections have consequences — and that the GOP was simply delivering on the mandate it was given in November.

“This is not a shock,” Walker told The Associated Press in February when announced his plan to cut collective bargaining rights. “The shock would be if we didn’t go forward with this.”

Taxes out, spending cuts in

Underpinning the tough Republican approach toward public workers was the states’ long-running budget crisis, which remained the dominant issue in most states and which the GOP responded to with deep spending cuts — not only to the public workforce, but to health care, K-12 schools and a host of other programs.

One of the reasons for the Republican insistence on spending cuts is the fact that 11 new GOP governors refused, even before taking office, to consider tax increases this year. By and large, all 11 of those Republicans delivered on their no-tax promise, although Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval agreed to extend previously approved sales and business tax increases.

Guided by their tough position against taxes, and spurred on by what they saw as voter distaste toward big government, Republicans in many states made deep cuts, sometimes even when they had other options available. An expected $4 billion cut to public schools in Texas, for instance, comes despite the state having more than $6 billion in its rainy-day fund.

The cuts often hit vulnerable populations the hardest, underscoring a belief among many in the GOP that the nation’s social safety net has become too sprawling and costly. A small group of conservative Missouri state senators, for example, forced Democratic Governor Jay Nixon’s hand and brought about a reduction in state-level unemployment benefits, arguing that government can’t pay for month after month of assistance to the long-term jobless. Republicans in many states slashed funding for mental health services and lobbied the federal government to turn Medicaid into a block-grant program, potentially allowing states to spend far less on health care for the poor.

At the same time that they were making budget cuts to social programs, Republicans were friendly to business, announcing in press conferences and in news releases that, after years of Democratic policies, their states were now “open for business.”

Under partial or total GOP leadership, Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada and Wisconsin all cut business taxes. In Maine, LePage’s administration took aim at environmental regulations that he said were unnecessary and a burden on businesses. In Pennsylvania, where Republicans took control of the governorship and both legislative chambers, lawmakers have declined to hit the burgeoning natural gas industry with an extraction tax, even though Pennsylvania is the only major gas-producing state without such a levy.

California, meanwhile, is still mired in fiscal trouble as legislative Republicans have torpedoed Democratic efforts to extend previously approved tax hikes. The immigration crackdowns passed by Republicans in Alabama and Georgia this year, where lawmakers have escalated enforcement against undocumented residents in the absence of federal action.

Dan Smith, a political science professor at the University of Florida, says it is indisputable that Republicans were the big winners in 2011 legislatures, based on the laundry list of legislative victories they claimed. At the same time, he says, the huge differences in the laws approved in Republican- versus Democratic-run states underscores just how consequential state-level elections can be.

“This is the two Americas,” Smith says, “in stark contrast

Just learned about this protest.  I'll be driving to Austin for the War on Women demonstration at the State Capitol building on April 28th. 

I'm thinking about dragging my family there as well for the rally. We went for the Jon Stewart / Stephen Colbert one that was at the capitol building.

Hey, CTM.  Maybe we can meet in person.

Here's the sign I've come up with so far: "No Dogma in the House... or Senate."

Glad to see an organized protest in Texas going forward. And scary to think that Rick Perry-who somehow thinks denying access to life-saving health care for poor women is a good idea-actually ran for President of the United States! Imagine the damage someone like him could have caused. But it sounds like the protest goes beyond Texas and into all the states and into Congress and sends an overall message of disgust and a message that we will fight back.

Murkowski and Hutchinson both voted for the Blunt Amendment and both supported Republican efforts to de-fund Planned Parenthood in the past. But suddenly, both have had a change of heart. Murkowski expressed regret about her vote (a little late!) and now suddenly Hutchinson is speaking out in support of Planned Parenthood, expressing disapproval of the move by Texas to deny all these low income women access to health care and even praising the organization for cancer screenings, etc. I really don't know that either has had a true change of heart, but it is more evidence of the intense pressure they are under by women and men who support women's rights. In other news, Idaho has put it's mandatory sonagram law on hold because of outrage from the public.

These headlines are very good news for women-our voices ARE being heard. Women are not stupid and are not happy about this obvious "War on Women." I'm guessing women are probably even harsher on female representatives who turn their back on issues important to them, but all lawmakers should take notice and LAY OFF the attacks on our privacy and health care issues.

This points out EXACTLY the fallacy of trying to elect "moderate" Republicans to Congress now as a way to change the direction of the party. It won't work, because the moderates maintain party discipline and vote against their principles just to maintain party unity. Only sweeping them out will deter these idiots from trying to turn the clock back to the dark ages.

I am glad that women are reacting negatively to all these attempts, and I will gladly join in support of their efforts. Not because I am afraid of any backlash from women in my own life, but because it is the right thing to do. I hope all of these ***holes get swept out of office, not only on a national level, but in states around the country. The only way to put an end to the madness is at the ballot box.

Some positive news on the "War on Women" front: An Oklahoma judge on Wednesday permanently blocked a 2010 state law requiring all women seeking an abortion to undergo a mandatory ultrasound.  The law, which had been temporarily blocked since shortly after it passed, would have forced a woman seeking an abortion to get an ultrasound, have the image placed in front of her and listen to it described in detail. It was found unconstitutional on the grounds that it was directed only at abortions and not other medical care. 

Do you know about the new law that government made drunk driving lawyer Tampa for women. Are you study that law. But as i know new law is also a type of the law that you are talking about. 

More good news (think they are feeling the pressure?) The Arizona Senate narrowly defeated a bill to allow more employers to drop contraceptive coverage because of religious objections. The bill was amended to address concerns that women would have to disclose private medical information to their employers in order to get hormonal contraceptive coverage in cases of medical necessity.  The vote Wednesday was 17-13, with eight Republicans voting against the bill. The bill is not dead; one of the Republican "no" votes was a procedural move to allow the bill to be brought up again for a vote. 

This whole issue reminds me of the duplicity involved in these debates:  I once went to counseling for stress-related issues and the sessions were covered by my employer's health plan.  It turned out to be thinly-veiled "Christian counseling." 

How is that different? 

Talk about being in denial and making things worse. The RNC Chair blames the media for women flocking away from Republicans and proceeds to compare women to caterpillars. Classy.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus was on a rhetorical roll Thursday. In an interview with Bloomberg TV set to air this weekend, Priebus said the so-called “war on women” is a Democratic fabrication perpetuated by the media, as frivolous as a “war on caterpillars.”

“Well, for one thing, if the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars, and every mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we have problems with caterpillars,” Priebus said. “The fact of the matter is it’s a fiction,” Priebus continued, and it started as a “war against the Vatican.”

Regardless, Bloomberg’s Al Hunt reminded Priebus that the GOP does, in fact, have a gender gap problem. “How big a problem is it? How do you close it?” he asked. By focusing on jobs, Priebus said, without focusing on women at all in his answer.

Didn't Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski say the war on women made no sense, as well? I don't think she went so far as to support Obama, however.

I'll confess I'm a democrat, not a republican, reading this site, and it's relieving to hear you guys are out there!

I was wondering if you might check out a video of a poem I wrote about Obama and the need to get involved with the election. I talk about women's rights in there:


Keep on going with this site -- it's great!


Great video Geneva. Makes me proud that I switch from Republican to Democrat a few years back after being Republican for over 30+ years. Your video beats anything Team Obama put together so far. Glad you are on our side.

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