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Home > English > Alternatives International Journal > 2012 > November 2012 > A Contentious Election For Women’s Rights

A Contentious Election For Women’s Rights

Thursday 1 November 2012, by Houda Chergui

In the upcoming American election, taking place on November 6, results will determine whether the country will be moving forward or reverting back to the 1950s. Polls indicate that, as in most elections, jobs and economic concerns are the most decisive issues taken into account at voting stations, putting social issues on the backburner. However, this coming election will determine the future of women’s rights in America as it presents two candidates with dramatically opposing views on a very visceral subject for most women: abortion.

Romney has declared that if he were to be elected, he would overturn Roe v. Wade, a 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion—a monumental achievement in women’s rights. He opposes abortion except in cases of rape, incest and threat to the mother’s life. Obama has previously remarked on the feasibility of this actually happening, because “we know that the current Supreme Court has at least four members who would overturn Roe v. Wade. All it takes is one more for that to happen.” Romney would endorse extreme legislation, not unlike Proposition 26. This constitutional amendment also known as ‘the personhood amendment’ was considered and rejected by a 58 to 42 margin in Mississippi in November 2011 that declared a fertilized egg to be a legal person, meaning it would brand abortion and some forms of birth control such as the morning-after pill as murder. Ohio and Florida had considered similar initiatives.

The topic of abortion remains a very contentious one as, though it has high social and political implications, it remains very personal and emotional. People may have differing religious beliefs that influence their decisions on these issues, however no one may impose their belief on others, especially when it involves women and their bodies. Obama seems to understand this, as he declared that the issue should be left to women and their doctors.

Making abortion illegal not only imposes one’s religious views on others, but puts many women’s lives in peril as without the government’s aid, many would have to resort to dangerous means in order to get an abortion.

In this direction, the Republican candidate also seeks to remove any federal funding for Planned Parenthood, a non-profit health organization that not only provides reproductive health, maternal and child health services, but also informs and educates communities on sexual health. Planned Parenthood is a widely used major provider of abortion and contraception. Romney also announced support for the Blunt amendment, a bill giving any employer the right to deny health insurance coverage of birth control based on moral conviction.

This election will hopefully serve the purpose of widening women’s eyes to the fact that there are still politicians whose definition of women’s rights is for a woman to be able to get out of work on time in order to cook food for her family. It is important for all to take note that women should be able to stop worrying about whether their hard-earned rights will be taken away from them. Women should not still be fighting to hold onto what they already have, they should be able to move forward.