Reingold, B.; Kreitzer, R.J.; Osborn, T.; Swers, M.L.
Abstract To what extent and under what conditions do women in elective office lead the way on conservative women’s interests? The few existing studies find that, contrary to most research on women’s descriptive and substantive representation, legislative activity on conservative women’s issues in the United States is driven primarily by Republican men. This article takes a new look at the heart of conservative policymaking by analyzing the sponsorship of anti-abortion bills in twenty-one state houses, from 1997 to 2012. We find that conservative Republican women stand at the forefront of anti-abortion policy leadership in state legislatures. However, their distinctive leadership is highly constrained; it is most likely to emerge in policy contexts that use women-centered issue frames and within competitive partisan environments. These complex interactions between gender, ideology, issue framing, and partisanship call for new theories and concepts of women’s representation as not only gendered, but also deeply embedded in the strategic interplay of polarized, partisan politics.