When Democratic candidate for Oklahoma governor (current Lieutenant Governor) Jari Askins won the primary to face Republican opponent (Congresswoman) Mary Fallins, I noted how unusual it was that one of the more conservative states in the union will have a woman as chief executive.
But I also noted that one major difference between the two women is that Jari Askins is tepidly pro-choice, while Mary Fallin is most decidedly not. Askins has been quoted as recognizing the necessity of abortion in cases of "rape and to save the life of the mother." But Fallin is one of Sarah Palin's "mama grizzlies," a legislator who has consistently voted to grant the "pre-born" protection under the 14th amendment (essentially, life begins at conception) and would reverse Roe v. Wade. Fallin also recently claimed that by having six kids, she has experience that better suits her for the governorship that Askins, with no partner or child, lacks...despite Fallin's failure to vote for SCHIP in January, 2008 and January 2009.
Republican Mary Fallin said that the experience of being a mother of six sets her apart and is the key credential that makes her more qualified to serve as governor of Oklahoma than Democrat Jari Askins, who is unmarried and does not have children.
...it feels like a throwback to an earlier time when a woman's worth was measured by her marital status, and a woman who did not bear children was expected to explain why not.
Normally, if a woman argued that as a mother she brought unique experience to political leadership, I'd be open to hearing in a detailed way how she believes that's so. However, in Fallin's case, claiming the saintly mantle of motherhood to deflect attention to her marriage-ending affair is a cynical political move as well as symbolic apple pie covering up dangerous "pro-life" policy beliefs that basically ensure compulsory pregnancy and childbirth for all women and girls regardless of their circumstances.
This is right-wing so-called "feminism": throwing child-free women under the bus, insisting on small government except for when your uterus is involved.
Not only is Fallin a hard right anti-choice candidate who'll likely drastically decrease already limited access to abortion in Oklahoma, she also played an instrumental role in ensuring that OK is a "right to work"/anti-union state. In the past decade her conservative voting ratings have become more extreme, rising from 59% on the Oklahoma Conservative Index to 80-90% on various other conservative indexes.
At best Askins would govern as a conservative Democrat. As someone who didn't support the Recovery Act (like Fallin, who voted against the Recovery Act but whose district OK5, zip code 73101, received at least $179,000,000 in federal contracts and grants) Askins opposes state implementation of the health insurance reform bill. Askins is more conservative than some near-extinct moderate Republicans. But at least women in Oklahoma state may have narrowed access to abortion with Askins, as opposed to none at all under Fallin.
Though a hard-right nightmare, Fallin appears to be ahead in the polls. But given that her claims about motherhood being a "special" qualification for public office were greeted with groans of dismay from men and women in the audience, maybe there's a chance for Askins yet. It depends if young people in the Oklahoma audience where Fallin and Askins debated and were displeased with Fallin's retrograde comments go to the polls to vote.
Cynematic blogs at P i l l o w b o o k.