After Republicans used the "miserable economy" as a springboard to victory in last year's election, it was assumed they'd push for spending and tax cuts, says Amanda Marcotte at Salon. So their intense efforts to roll back abortion rights — House Speaker John Boehner called it a "top priority" — have "thrown everyone." The newly empowered GOP appears convinced that "the women of America have wildly mismanaged [their] uteruses in the [past] four decades," and that it's time to "bring this reign of female tyranny over uteruses to an end." Okay, but "Why now, when there are so many other pressing issues at stake?" Simple: The GOP stands to gain politically. Here, an excerpt:

For the right, rolling back reproductive rights is considered a worthy goal in its own right, but since the issue could also provoke a budget showdown that could result in a government shutdown, it's also a useful tool in their effort to force Democrats to blink. As with their push to bust unions at the state level, Republicans stand to gain electorally by wreaking havoc on the pro-choice movement and undermining its ability to get out the vote for Democrats....

With gay rights waning as a powerful wedge issue, keeping the religious right motivated and ready to vote is harder than ever. Reproductive rights creates new incentives for church-organized activists to keep praying, marching, donating and, most important, voting for the GOP.

Read the entire piece at Salon.