Right or wrong, women’s reproductive rights are a major issue in this year’s presidential race. Now, more than ever before, it’s important that every woman takes the time to fully understand what Mitt Romney and President Obama really stand for–not just what media rhetoric or public smear campaigns want you to believe. A lot has certainly been written about women’s reproductive rights, including specifically, abortion, so we’ve tried to clear through the clutter to give you an accurate overview of what Obama and Romney really say about this–because you can’t always believe what you hear elsewhere.
First off, you may wonder why women’s reproductive rights have become such a major issue in political debates. Taylor Marsh, political analyst and commentator, and author of The Hillary Effect, explains that the focus stems from what’s available to women under the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), which impacts women’s insurance coverage, as well as which reproductive health services employers are required to provide. The new laws’ impact on faith-based organizations have spurred huge debate, and the Romney-Ryan ticket’s faith-based views have kept it going. “This is one of those issues where you cannot pretend there is a ‘balanced’ view,” said Marsh.
Women also have the potential to swing the election to one side or the other, says Marsh. But first we all need to understand the real issues and what’s at stake. “If more single and younger women voted, our power would be even greater and could extend to national security, a place where women’s voices are really needed,” she said. “Remember, the United States offers assistance and aid around the world to help women in underdeveloped nations, whether it’s childbirth or HIV prevention, but particularly birth control.”
Where Obama Stands on Abortion
President Obama is a very strong supporter of reproductive rights. “I have little doubt that First Lady Michelle Obama informs his decisions on this, as does having two daughters,” says Marsh. Obama is pro-choice, although he says he’s not pro-abortion. He believes in a women’s right to choose and in Roe vs. Wade. He is also a supporter of Planned Parenthood.
According to Obama’s website, he “has repeatedly stood behind a woman’s right to choose,” including:
- Reversed the global gag rule, ending the ban on government aid for international groups that provide abortion information
- Fought against Republican attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, one of the largest providers of women’s health services in the country
Where Romney Stands on Abortion
According to Mitt Romney’s website, he is pro-life and wants to prevent more than a million abortions a year from happening.
He believes that life begins at conception and believes the Supreme Court should overturn Roe v. Wade–”a case of blatant judicial activism that took a decision that should be left to the people and placed it in the hands of unelected judges.” Romney then believes that each state should be empowered to determine their own abortion laws.
He also supports the Hyde Amendment, which broadly bars the use of federal funds for abortions. And he wants to end federal funding for abortion advocates like Planned Parenthood.
Obama’s Voting Record on Abortion
Campaign promises are one thing, but where we really find out what a candidate stands for is with their voting record. According to On the Issues, Obama’s voting record around women’s repro rights is as follows:
- Blocked IL law: Born Alive Infant Protection Act. (Oct 2011)
- Opposed born-alive treatment law because it was already law. (Oct 2008)
- Supports Roe v. Wade. (Jul 1998)
- Voted NO on defining unborn child as eligible for SCHIP. (Mar 2008)
- Voted NO on prohibiting minors crossing state lines for abortion. (Mar 2008)
- Voted YES on expanding research to more embryonic stem cell lines. (Apr 2007)
- Voted NO on notifying parents of minors who get out-of-state abortions. (Jul 2006)
- Voted YES on $100M to reduce teen pregnancy by education & contraceptives. (Mar 2005)
- Sponsored bill providing contraceptives for low-income women. (May 2006)
- Rated 0% by the NRLC, indicating a pro-choice stance. (Dec 2006)
- Ensure access to and funding for contraception. (Feb 2007)
Romney’s Voting Record on Abortion
Likewise, here’s what On the Record says about Romney’s history:
- Would be delighted to sign federal ban on all abortions. (Nov 2007)
- 2005: Vetoed availability without Rx of morning-after pill. (Aug 2007)
- Defining mistake: supported abortion law despite opposing it. (Aug 2007)
- Would welcome overturning Roe v. Wade. (Mar 2007)
- Committed to not change law on abortion as Gov., and did not. (Mar 2007)
- Opposes Roe v Wade, but won’t tamper with abortion laws. (Dec 2006)
- Vetoed emergency contraception for rape victims. (Jul 2005)
- Endorsed legalization of RU-486. (Mar 2002)
Marsh explains that Romney’s voting record has been particularly confusing: “Mitt Romney’s been all over the map on women’s reproductive freedoms in his political career. When he was Massachusetts governor he said he’d ‘preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose.’ According to multiple online sources, including Wikipedia, Romney stated that a woman’s choice to have an abortion is not only ‘deeply personal,’ but that each of us should be free to choose our own course and not be forced into situations by government. Running as president, Mitt Romney has flipped on all these positions, including choosing as a running mate a man who uses his faith to formulate his policies that are directly against a women’s right to self-determination.”
Do you have more questions about health and reproductive rights in this year’s election? Share them in the comments section below and we’ll follow up with further posts.
The so-called “war on women” doesn’t show signs of wavering in this year’s election. The Obama campaign recently released an ad criticizing Romney for wanting to cut Planned Parenthood funding and being “really out of touch with the average woman’s health issues.” Meanwhile, Romney’s campaign released an ad accusing the President of using his health care law to wage a “war on religion.”
In the end, Marsh sums it up best by saying that the battle over women’s reproductive rights and religion really has no place in politics. To her, it’s an “ugly extension of an important conversation that’s being forced on women and the public, because faith is twisting politics to go where government doesn’t belong.”