Romney presses gun rights but not women’s rights

Mitt Romney’s website lists 26 issues on which you can “learn more about Mitt.” The list includes gun rights, but not women’s rights.

In Tuesday night’s rematch with President Obama, MItt Romney dodged a question from a young woman in the audience about equal pay for women. Instead he rambled about getting “binders full of women” to fill a job – accidentally making a surely unintended argument for affirmative action! Then he got onto giving women flexible work time so they could get home to make dinner. (Presumably in his world men don’t need to make dinner.)  But he had nothing to say about equal pay.

That matches his website, which also is completely silent on the issue.

In Romney’s 26-issue list, under “Values,” he calls for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. That is the landmark 1973 decision that the right to privacy under the 14th Amendment includes a woman’s decision to have an abortion.

Romney calls 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.”

In the very next paragraph, he says he “will nominate judges who know the difference between personal opinion and the law.”

So, Romney would take a decision that should be left to women (50 percent of “the people”) – when and with whom to bear a child – and place it in the hands of “unelected judges” that he appoints. Not to mention, in the hands of politicians who share Romney’s “personal opinion” on the issue.

Obama put Romney on the spot on women’s rights in Tuesday’s debate. The president assailed Romney for calling for defunding Planned Parenthood and for opposing Obamacare’s provisions to prevent employers from blocking women’s access to contraception.

On the defensive, Romney said “Every woman in America should have access to contraceptives,” and “I don’t believe employers should tell someone whether they could have contraceptive care or not.

But the Romney website, whether under “Values,” “Healthcare” or any other category, makes no mention of the right to access birth control. Instead, as Obama charged, it says he will end federal funding for Planned Parenthood, the nation’s leading provider of birth control to low income women. And it says Romney “will protect the right of health care workers to follow their conscience in their work” – meaning a pharmacist can refuse to fill a prescription for contraceptives. His website is silent about employer restrictions on contraceptive coverage.

As the New York Times points out in an excellent Oct. 18 editorial, Romney “vetoed a bill as Massachusetts governor in 2005 that would have given women who were raped access to emergency contraception.” This year, Romney supported an amendment that would have allowed any business to opt out of Obamacare’s requirement that employers include contraceptive coverage in their employee insurance plans. The ironic thing is, the very fact that many employer-based health plans currently exclude birth control drives many women to rely on Planned Parenthood for that service!

On Romney’s 26 issues list, the strangely titled “Human Capital” category makes no mention of pay equity, or any other equal employment issues. His “Labor” category is solely devoted to an attack on unions and Obama’s actions to advance worker rights. Romney provides a list of measures he advocates to erode those rights.

Obama rightly called access to birth control an issue for women and families. In fact all these women’s issues are economic. The decision when and with whom to bear a child has enormous economic consequences for women, their partners, and their families.

Having and raising a child in good circumstances is a joyous undertaking. But it is a very expensive one, placing great financial burdens and stress on America’s working and low-income families. Women are faced with unequal pay on the job, lack of paid maternity and paternity leave, no provisions for breast feeding or milk-pumping at work, and the staggering cost of quality child care. So decisions about whether or not to become pregnant and to bear a child are central to the quality of life for women as well as their families.

Romney could not or would not answer the question about equal pay for women Tuesday night. He opposed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. In April this year, Romney supporter Scott Walker, Wisconsin’s Republican governor, signed a repeal of the state’s Equal Pay Enforcement Act.

Romney’s campaign demonstrates total disregard for fundamental concerns of women and their families in our society.

Photo: A demonstration in Madison, Wis., on April 28, 2012. Madison Guy CC 2.0


Susan Webb
Susan Webb

Susan Webb is a retired co-editor of People's World. She has written on a range of topics both international - the Iraq war, World Social Forums in Brazil and India, the Israel-Palestinian conflict and controversy over the U.S. role in Okinawa - and domestic - including the meaning of socialism for Americans, attacks on Planned Parenthood, the U.S. as top weapons merchant, and more.