THE RELEASE of a video of Donald Trump bragging about how easy it was for him to get away with sexual assault dredged up millions of memories of women who have experienced being groped or kissed against their will. Nearly 10 million were recorded in Tweets with the hashtag #notokay.
But while Trump may be the loudest, most insulting example, pretty much every male Republican officeholder, and quite a few of the women, has shown nearly as much contempt for a woman's right to bodily autonomy when it comes to reproductive rights. They might be quieter about it, but the policies they promote are designed to force themselves, or at least their views, on women's bodies.
At the third debate, Trump's lurid description of ripping babies from the womb in the ninth month of pregnancy was immediately debunked by OB-GYNs as something that simply doesn't happen. But Trump is against the 91.4 percent of all abortions that are performed before 13 weeks of pregnancy, as well.
Back in May, the Republican candidate said that if abortion were to become illegal, as he wants it to be, he would support punishment for women who get them, a statement he quickly walked back from, but which has appeared in several Clinton ads and which she brought up in the debate.
Actually, that position shows far more respect for women's intelligence and autonomy than the usual line from Republicans who claim they would punish only doctors who provide abortion, as if millions of women don't know what they're doing when they make that choice. The ruthlessness and deceit with which so many Republican lawmakers rushed to defund Planned Parenthood nationally and in the states suggest that they think women don't know that birth control prevents pregnancy (and therefore eliminates the need for abortion) or that, once again, they are being talked into abortions they don't want by one of the nation's leading providers of health care.
Trump's running mate, Gov. Mike Pence, of Indiana, is a prime example. He supported and signed one the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the country, including a requirement that women seeking abortions be forced to obtain an ultrasound and listen to the fetal heartbeat, then wait 18 hours before they had their abortions, a not-so-veiled attempt at intimidation and humiliation.
We have had more than five years' experience seeing what happens when Republicans have the power to make laws about reproduction: Since 2010, states have imposed 288 new restrictions, adding up to 27 percent of all abortion restrictions passed since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, including blatant attempts to shut down abortion clinics by imposing ridiculous regulations. One such Texas law was prevented from taking effect only when Justice Antonin Scalia died. The stakes in the Supreme Court couldn't be higher.
It's as simple as this: Women don't have equal rights unless they control their bodies. Sexual assault and restrictions on reproductive rights are different stanzas, but part of the same song, and the Party of Trump has been singing it long before he came on the stage.