Politics Straight, No Chaser
The Abortion Debate: Republican “War on Women” or Democratic Political Ploy?
Published: Monday, September 3, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 3, 2012 22:09
Republicans were scrambling after Missouri Republican Senate Candidate Todd Akin claimed that women’s bodies can naturally prevent pregnancies in cases of what he has deemed “legitimate rape.”
Attempts to understand or find any logic or factual basis behind the statement would prove futile. Akin immediately apologized stating that he “used the wrong words in the wrong way.” The damage, however, was already done.
Well-known Republicans including Mitt Romney called for Akin to drop out of the race for fear that he would cost their party the Senate seat, which could potentially give them the majority. Akin defiantly decided to stay in the race despite massive criticism from both sides of the political spectrum.
President Barack Obama took advantage of Akin’s gaffe and used it to divert attention from the ailing economy, a topic Romney and Republicans persistently try to emphasize. The focus was redirected to Romney and running mate Paul Ryan’s views on abortion and rape and the Republican platform.
According to Romney’s official campaign website, he is pro-life and wants the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, a landmark case in 1973 that gave women the right to decide on abortion. Instead of a federal judicial mandate, Romney believes state governments should decide their own laws regarding abortion.
He also plans to end federal funding for organizations such as Planned Parenthood and other “abortion advocates,” according to his website. Obama attacked this idea, noting that the majority of Planned Parenthood’s services involve health care for women including cancer screening, annual exams and vaccinations, while abortion are a very small percentage of services.
Funding cuts would result in reducing women’s access to health care much more than it would curb the amount of abortions performed.
However, the Planned Parenthood issue is not at the center of the debate. For many, the most significant point of contention is the overarching question of when abortions are appropriate.
During a recent interview on CBS News, Romney said he is in favor of abortion being legal in cases of rape and incest and if there is a problem with the mother’s health.
Opponents, however, argue that his position has been far from clear. These exceptions are not included in Romney’s official campaign statement. They also contradict Ryan’s and the Republican Party’s platforms. Ryan and the GOP make no mention of such exceptions to the abortion question and Ryan directly stated that the health of the mother should not be considered.
Democrats have used these views against Romney and the Republican Party, reverting attention to the fabled “war on women.” They argue the GOP is out of touch with women and wants to control their actions by restricting abortions and eliminating easy access to contraceptives. President Obama has utilized this argument to shift women voters to his side.
Obama is characterizing his views as ones which give women the most individual freedom and independence to gain their vote. On his official website, he states that “women— not politicians or the government—should be in control of their own health decisions.”
Opponents of Obama see him as an abortion extremist who wants to take away all restrictions on abortion. They argue that he is even in favor of allowing sex-selective abortions after a White House spokesperson didn’t directly say that Obama was opposed to such abortions.
Further, to counter the gender war claims, Republicans argue that Obama’s administration is actually waging the war. They emphasize the dismal condition of the economy and the fact that among the scores of unemployed Americans, women make up 5.2 million of them.