Today, the pro-choice, pro-lady Political Action Committee EMILY's List is launching a tool that will make you simultaneously proud to be a woman and terrified of an America where women aren't given a chance to lead. It's called The Impact Project, and it traces the role Democratic female lawmakers have had in passing — or opposing — key pieces of legislation since the early 1960's. Think of it like It's a Wonderful Life, when George Bailey is led through a world into which he was never born, except instead of taking a tour of Pottersville, we get to imagine living inside The Handmaid's Tale.
But The Impact Project didn't simply surmise that without left-leaning women, there would be a lot of discouraged Lisa Simpson types furiously writing letters to the editor; there are some pretty hefty numbers behind the project. Analysts examined National Journal data from 1990 to 2011 and found that overall, Democratic ladies were more progressive than their male counterparts, on every issue from foreign policy to women's health (Republican women, until very recently, were also more liberal than their male counterparts, but that distinction disappeared at about the same time Sarah Palin You Betcha'd her way onto the national stage).
If you're a DIY-type, you can see exactly what liberal women supported on the project's website by selecting a date range and an issue. Or, if you're short on time, you can click on individual issues to trace what sort of effect women taking a break from menstruating, baby having, and pot roast making had on this country's laws. Here's a bit on how progressive women pushed for Title X funds for family planning clinics, and how your life might be impacted if they hadn't been there to do it.
Without Title X, 50 Million People Would Have Lost Their Supplier of Birth Control In The Last Decade Alone. From 2001 to 2010, Title X funded health centers provided family planning services to 50,359,535 visitors. Those sites averaged over 5 million visitors every year. The amount of yearly visitors rose by 7.5% over those ten years, from 4,857,717 in 2001 to 5,224,862 in 2010.
You can also take a trip down Memories You Tried to Forget Lane on the site and recall such Republican man-led initiatives as the "Let Women Die Act," which would have allowed hospitals to refuse to perform lifesaving abortions on women who arrive at the emergency room in the process of bleeding to death, or the "No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act" (HR3), which would have allowed government funding for abortion in case of "rape," but only if the rape was "forcible rape," or the sort of thing Missouri Rep. Todd Akin might refer to as "legitimate rape." The kind where a nun — or other verifiable virgin — is dragged into an alley in broad daylight by a man sporting a dastardly Wild West sheriff style mustache and forced to have sex against her will. To add another dimension of awkwardness to the "dudes discuss what rape means to ladies" debate, Paul Ryan was a supporter of HR3.
It's not just women's health-related issues that EMILY's List-endorsed politicians have supported. Women have been at the forefront of pushing for more food safety regulation, clean air-promoting laws, and progress on the minimum wage, three other areas that would likely give Paul Ryan the vapors.
EMILY's List spokesperson Jess McIntosh says that she hopes The Impact Project will show people that electing women to office matters, and that encouraging women to run for office can make a huge difference. The data shows, she says, that when it comes to child safety, head start funding, the military, women in the economy, and Title IX, "EMILY's List women in office have been critical to making progress on these issues."
And so it turns out that your high school's resident hippie English teacher's tote bag was right — A woman's place is in the House. And Senate.