The widest plank in the Democratic Party platform is that Republicans are waging a war on women, and that electing GOP candidates will erode hard-won rights.

Chief among the rights supposedly at risk is reproductive freedom. Democrats relentlessly target women voters with the message that Republicans will strip them of their right to choose an abortion.

A strong supporting argument is that it’s not just the GOP’s policy-making women must fear, but also that a Republican president or governor will appoint anti-abortion judges who will restrict abortion rights from the bench.

It’s an effective tactic, refined in 2012, when President Barack Obama outdrew Republican Mitt Romney 56 percent to 44 percent among women voters.

That margin isn’t lost on Mark Schauer, the Democratic challenger in this year’s Michigan gubernatorial contest. In his fight to unseat Gov. Rick Snyder, Schauer is trumpeting the war on women, raising fears of further restrictions on abortion should the governor win a second term.

So it is richly ironic that Schauer so ardently embraced the nomination of an anti-abortion Supreme Court candidate at last weekend’s state party convention.

In the week leading up to the convention, women party activists tried to derail the selection of appeals court Judge Bill Murphy for the Democratic ticket. Schauer rebuffed their pleas to choose a pro-choice candidate instead — they had former Macomb Prosecutor Carl Marlinga waiting in the wings.

At the convention, extraordinary steps were taken to marginalize those female voices and quash their protests.

First, party officials, without advance notice, moved the vote on Murphy’s nomination, originally scheduled for Sunday, to Saturday, presumedly to catch the protesters off-guard.

Still, a video of the Saturday voice vote certainly sounds as if the “nays” on Murphy were louder than “yeas,” but Murphy was affirmed anyway.

After some women objected that the vote was rigged, the party — again, without notice — held another vote on Sunday, when fewer of the women protesters were on the floor.

The incident recalls the censuring of female Democratic lawmakers two years ago during the Vagina-gate incident. Schauer, who selected the central character in that episode, Lisa Brown, as his running mate, was no more eager to hear from women on a controversial issue than were the GOP House leaders back then.

The reason is classic politics. Murphy was the choice of the trial lawyers, a group he once served as its president.

Apparently, no one remembered Murphy was anti-abortion when his name was taken to Schauer and other party leaders.

Schauer, recognizing the wide stream of campaign cash that flows from the trial lawyers, happily endorsed him.

Now, the spin from Democrats is that Murphy will follow the law on abortion — the talking point Republicans often use in trying to downplay their anti-choice views.

But judges don’t just follow existing law, they are asked to decide the constitutionality of new laws passed by legislatures.

That’s why so much focus is given to judicial appointments.

Bottom line is that Schauer and the Democratic leaders, when forced to choice between the interests of women and those of a rich and powerful special interest group, went with power over principle.

Isn’t that what defines the war on women?


Follow Nolan Finley at, on Twitter at @nolanfinleydn, and on Facebook at nolanfinleydetnews.

Watch him at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays on "MiWeek" on Detroit Public TV, Channel 56.

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