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Lean In? More like Pile On–feminists maul Sheryl Sandberg for praising an anti-abortion woman

February 4, 2014

Sandberg’s Lean In Foundation Tumblr page honors Florida GOP Rep.Ileana  Ros-Lehtinin as one of its “Trailblazing Women You May Not Know (But Should).” Seems reasonable. The Cuban-born Ros-Lehtinen was the first Latina elected to Congress, in 1989. Before that, she was the first Hispanic woman to serve in the Florida House of Representatives and, later, the Florida Senate. And she’s got liberal street-cred: As the mother of a transgender son, she has been a vocal advocate for gay marriage.

But there’s a big problem: Ros-Lehtinen isn’t 100 percent gung-ho about abortion, especially at taxpayer expense. So she doesn’t support: 1) partial-birth abortion (the now-banned third-trimester procedure that involves inducing labor and then stabbing the baby’s head with scissors); 2) any sort of health coverage that includes subsidized abortion; and 3) transporting minors across state lines without their parents’ knowledge so they can have out-of-state abortions. For these reasons NARAL Pro-Choice America, the abortion-provider lobby, has given Ros-Lehtinen a 0 percent rating. Because restrictions on abortion, any restrictions on abortion, make NARAL mad.

And when NARAL is mad, so is every feminist from here to Sunday. Because feminism is all about abortion and more abortion. So we have:

Amanda Marcotte at Slate:

It’s true that Ros-Lehtinen is a hardworking and accomplished woman, but she is also a woman who does everything in her power to make sure that other women’s hard work will not lead to similar accomplishments, as Tracy details. Ros-Lehtinen voted against equal-pay legislation; has a zero rating from NARAL; and even voted to drain the previously uncontroversial Title X funding that is used primarily to help low-income women afford contraception, STI testing, and cancer screenings.

Ros-Lehtinen’s “vote against equal-pay” legislation was actually a vote against the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Despite its title, the act isn’t about fair and equal pay for women. It merely extends the time for women to sue after they’ve realized they’ve been discriminated against. It thus rewards lackadaisical women who can’t be bothered to assert their rights promptly and penalizes employers by making it difficult to defend against years-old claims.

As for “draining” Title X funding, Marcotte is referring to Ros-Lehtinen’s opposition to handing $300 million a year in federal Title X funding to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest chain of abortion clinics, and an entity for which abortion accounts for one-third of its annual revenues. Ros-Lehtinen believes in giving the money instead to nonprofits that aren’t in the abortion business.

Katie McDonough at Salon:

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is a rising star in the Republican Party at a moment when its agenda is squarely focused on crushing reproductive rights and gutting social programs that support low-income families; she has voted consistently and reliably with her party on issues that disproportionately impact women’s lives.

Kathleen Grier at Wasthington Monthly:

Well, well — who saw this coming? It seems that Sheryl Sandberg’s nonprofit organization, Lean In, is honoring, as one of its “Trailblazing Women You May Not Know (But Should),” Florida G.O.P. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lentinen. You might assume, since Ros-Lehtinen is a Republican, that she holds all the usual horrible Republican positions on foreign and economic policy. And indeed, you would be correct.

But you’d probably figure that, if an allegedly feminist organization like Lean In is honoring her, she must have at least some sort of a decent record on women. Is she pro-choice, maybe? Or at a bare minimum, a supporter for equal pay, perhaps?


This is disgusting, and Sheryl Sandberg and the Lean In organization should be ashamed of themselves. Women have died for the lack of abortions and free cancer screenings which Ros-Lehtinen has cruelly voted to deny them.

Right, because Planned Parenthood is the only place where you can get a free cancer screening. And because being a feminist means you’d better toe the NARAL line–or we feminists will destroy you, even if you’re a successful woman in business like Sheryl Sandberg.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

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