Ellmers Responds to Criticism Over Comments on 'War on Women'

CQ Roll Call File Photo/Tom Williams

Rep. Renee Ellmers remains defiant after Democrats slammed her over the weekend for calling the 2010 health care law the real "war on women."

In an interview with CQ Roll Call on Monday, the North Carolinian and chairwoman of the Republican Women's Policy Committee said she wasn't surprised by the blowback.

"[Democrats'] mindset is that the only issues that women care about have to do with their bodies ... where the only thing women care about are free contraception and whether or not they have the right to have an abortion," said Ellmers, who opposes abortion rights. "As Republicans, we know women in this country are so concerned with the path that we're on right now and so many other issues, health being one of them. Control over our bodies being one of them."

Ellmers also fired back at Democrats' argument that the health law has expanded women's access to preventive health services such as mammograms and colonoscopies.

"What Democrats fail to mention is now the cost of insurance is skyrocketing, many times quadrupling, in cost, and deductibles are going up by thousands and thousands of dollars. When they're talking about free, preventative care for women, I'm having a hard time understanding where the 'free' part is," Ellmers said.

She called Democratic messaging "a disservice to women in this country."

Ellmers' remarks came as she gave the GOP's weekly address to the American people.

"If you want to talk about a 'war on women,' look no further than this health care law," she said.

She continued:

"Like many of you, I'm frustrated with the president’s health care law, especially where jobs and working families are concerned. I say this not only as a congresswoman and chair of the Republican Women's Policy Committee; I say it as a nurse and the mother of a son in college.

After all, it’s often women who make the health care decisions for our families. We put a lot of time and thought into these choices and how they’ll affect our budgets.

So by canceling your insurance — despite a promise to let you keep your plan — the Obama administration is essentially saying it knows what's best for you and your family. Not only that, they are making you pay more — usually much more — and in many cases, taking away the doctors you’ve been seeing for years."

a statement on Saturday afternoon

"Women will not be fooled by a political party that's so out of touch that it needs to offer classes on how to communicate with half of the American population," Etienne said.

She was referencing news reports from last week that the National Republican Congressional Committee was actively working with male GOP 2014 congressional candidates on how to avoid making statements that could be construed as sexist or offensive to women — an effort Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, supports.

The blog for liberal MSNBC pundit Rachel Maddow also weighed in, calling Etienne's characterization of Ellmers' remarks "charitable under the circumstances."

Ellmers told CQ Roll Call she didn't think Democratic pushback in this particular instance was any reflection on the relationships women lawmakers have fostered across the aisle.

"In all honesty, behind the scenes, we really are supportive of each other," she said. "I do have an appreciation for their perspective, even when we wholeheartedly do not agree."

"I speak from the perspective of being a woman," she continued. "I just don't understand some of my more liberal Democrat friends, some of the things they say. They believe that that's how women think."