The recently published graduate thesis of Virginia Attorney General Robert McDonnell, who is also the Republican candidate for Virginia Governor, demonstrates opposition to women’s rights. McDonnell spent 14 years in the state legislature before becoming state Attorney General in 2006.
McDonnell has attempted to distance himself from the inflammatory views fleshed out in his thesis. However, current Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, a Democrat, told Politico that the thesis is McDonnell’s “political blueprint” and that “After years of working with Bob, I believe this article is an accurate reflection of his sincere and long-standing views.”
McDonnell described feminists and working women as “detrimental” to the family and feminism as among the “real enemies of the traditional family” in his thesis. In 2001, he voted against ending sex-based wage discrimination. He has also argued that the child-care tax exemption should be repealed.
McDonnell also called the 1972 Supreme Court ruling in Eisenstadt v. Baird, which legalized contraception by unmarried couples as “illogical” in the thesis and in 2004, voted against allowing student health centers on college campuses to dispense emergency contraception. He voted repeatedly for abortion restrictions and demonstrated he is opposed to abortion even in cases of rape and incest. McDonnell supported or sponsored anti-choice legislation continuously over the 14 years he served the Virginia House of Delegates.
Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal said in a statement, “It would be one thing if this thesis was a satire, but it was a policy directive to the Republican Party. McDonnell went on to enact major planks of the policy agenda developed and described in the thesis. It also revealed that he has a well-developed belief against separation of church and state. One of his defenses on his views regarding working women is that his wife and two daughters work. However, we have seen with other advocates of the religious right that personal lives often have no relationship to public policy positions. We must evaluate McDonnell’s views by his actions as a public official, which have furthered an anti-women’s rights record.”