Get out your political boxing gloves and find your voting location, ladies. Women might determine who sits in the Oval Office for the next four years. You don’t have to be a feminist to feel uncomfortable with a woman’s body being labeled as an “issue” in the political arena, and at the very least, we have the right to know exactly why politicians think our bodies are “issues” they get to make decisions about.
With all the banter going back and forth, it’s important to know the simple facts minus the political fluff. When it comes to our rights, it doesn’t matter whether you’re team Mitt, behind Barack, Christian, agnostic or want to vote for Paul Ryan because he’s a babe. As a woman, it’s essential to know what could change for you, your daughters and generations of women to come, depending on who wins this election.
First thing first, what is Roe v. Wade?
You have likely heard this tossed back and forth over the past few months (and you haven’t heard the end of it), but what is it? Roe v. Wade is a Supreme Court landmark and a standing decision from 1973 that legalized abortions in the United States.
Obama on abortion
President Obama is 100 percent pro-choice, meaning he believes each and every woman has the right to decide for herself if she wants to get an abortion, regardless of circumstances surrounding a pregnancy. He pledges to uphold Roe v. Wade and ensure that abortions remain legal in the United States. Vice President Joe Biden is also pro-choice, citing in his recent debate against opponent Paul Ryan that he is personally against abortion for religious reasons, but that neither he nor anyone else has the right to inflict those beliefs on the the nation’s women.
“I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose and this fundamental constitutional right. While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue — no matter what our views, we must stay united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant women and mothers, reduce the need for abortion, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption. And as we remember this historic anniversary, we must also continue our efforts to ensure that our daughters have the same rights, freedoms and opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.” — Barack Obama
Romney on abortion
Though Romney previously supported abortion rights, he now says that the policy of a Romney administration would be to oppose abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or protecting the life of the mother. Romney’s camp holds that life begins at conception. If Romney were elected, his administration would hold that Roe v. Wade should be overturned and that the issue of whether or not abortions are legal should be decided by individual state governments. It is estimated that more than 30 states would outlaw abortion under Romney’s policy.
“But while the nation remains so divided over abortion, I believe that the states, through the democratic process, should determine their own abortion laws and not have them dictated by judicial mandate.” — Mitt Romney
“I don’t see how a person can separate their public life from their private life, or from their faith. Our faith informs us in everything we do. My faith informs me about how to take care of the vulnerable, of how to make sure that people have a chance in life.” — Paul Ryan
Obama on birth control and Planned Parenthood
As a result of Roe v. Wade, current health care law requires birth control and contraceptives to be made available for free to women enrolled in any workplace healthcare plan. President Obama supports upholding this law and has no plans to cut funding to Planned Parenthood.
“Mr. Romney wants to get rid of funding for Planned Parenthood. I think that’s a bad idea… I’ve got two daughters. I want them to control their own health care choices.” — Barack Obama
Romney on birth control and Planned Parenthood
Romney has said in the past that he would end federal aid for Planned Parenthood. Romney’s spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said in 2011 that Romney supports the Pence Amendment, which aims to eliminate grants for Planned Parenthood. If Roe v. Wade were ever overturned, it would have rippling effects across the country on the availability and affordability of birth control.
“We spend $300 million a year on groups like Planned Parenthood, which provide abortions or abortion-related services. It’s long past time for that to be over. So first, we will eliminate or cut programs that are not absolutely essential.” — Mitt Romney
What women are saying
Leading Hollywood ladies Eva Longoria, Kerry Washington and Scarlett Johannson recently released a video urging women to vote against the Republican ticket, saying Romney and his camp are aiming to end abortion rights for women and end funding for Planned Parenthood. Various polls show that Obama has a slight lead over Romney with women voters but that Romney is quickly pulling ahead among all voters. Planned Parenthood has invested more than $1 million in anti-Romney ads in swing states, where women could ultimately be the deciders of this election.
The future of women and their right to choose
This election is uniquely important because its outcome could affect future laws protecting a woman’s right to choose for decades to come. Three Supreme Court justices are nearing retirement and are likely to end their careers during the next four-year presidential term. Presidents have the responsibility to appoint Supreme Court justices, with the approval of Congress. Even if only one justice retires, his or her replacement could have massive impact on the future laws of the United States.
If Obama were elected, he would likely appoint a judge of either a neutral or liberal ideological stance who would protect Roe v. Wade and maintain other key laws protecting a woman’s right to choose. If Romney were elected, he would likely appoint a more right-wing judge, putting Roe v. Wade in jeopardy and leading to more conservative Supreme Court decisions about the laws that protect our rights.