The XX Factor

Is Gingrich the Worst Candidate for Women?

Newt Gingrich speaks to reporters in Iowa

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

The liberal political organization* Emily’s List ranked the 2012 GOP candidates according to their records and positions on women’s issues from abortion rights to workplace fairness. I thought that Michele Bachmann, who says the HPV vaccine causes mental retardation, or Rick Santorum, who said that our Social Security woes stem from legalized abortion, would be declared the worst for women. But no: Our old friend Newt Gingrich has the most strikes against him when it comes to voting against policies that might benefit women.

I figured Gingrich wasn’t the worst mostly because he’s one of the more liberal of the GOP candidates when it comes to abortion—he belieives that it should be allowed in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. (Many Iowa evangelicals disagree with these exceptions.) However, it turns out that the policy behind his abortion ideals is ultra-radical. Michelle Goldberg at the Daily Beast explains:

In response to a question about how [Gingrich] would respond to a Supreme Court ruling against a personhood law, he insisted that the legislative and executive branches can “rebalance the judiciary.” He referred listeners to a paper on his website (PDF) which, among other things, suggests that Congress abolish uncooperative courts and judgeships, and argues that in certain rare cases, “the executive branch might choose to ignore a Court decision.” Rather than overturn Roe v. Wade, he proposes to overturn the entire system of judicial review.

Our own Dahlia Lithwick has already taken down Gingrich’s looney tunes ideas about the judiciary here. But back to his record on women’s issues: Gingrich voted against the family and medical leave bill, hates Planned Parenthood, and voted anti-choice almost 100 percent of the time. According to Emily’s List, Rick Perry, who recently veered right when it comes to abortion (he now thinks abortion should be outlawed in all circumstances, with no exceptions for rape, incest, or the health of the mother), has the most positive record when it comes to women. It’s a tallest midget contest for sure when Rick “Oops” Perry is a woman’s best bet.

Clarification, Dec. 28, 2011: The original version of this post referred to Emily’s List as a nonprofit.