Do Women’s Issues Matter in the 2012 Election?

by Intern Ginny

Over the last several months, we’ve seen one example after another of Republican politicians introducing (and passing) bills that strip away women’s access to affordable birth control, abortion, equal pay, and more. Still, this weekend, former news anchor Campbell Brown, apparently spurred by Obama’s commencement speech at Barnard, accused him of adopting a condescending tone while trying to court women voters. What’s more, she questioned whether or not the War on Women, and the flurry of media attention it is getting, really even  matter in the upcoming election.

Citing a Pew Research Center survey, she says, “When thinking about whom to vote for in the fall, women are most concerned about the economy (86 percent) and jobs (84 percent). Near the bottom of the list were some of the hot-button social issues”. Anecdotally she adds, “The struggling women in my life all laughed when I asked them if contraception or abortion rights would be a major factor in their decision about this election. For them, and for most other women, the economy overwhelms everything else.”

As the wife of a Mitt Romney adviser, Campbell is certainly not an unbiased source. Nevertheless, the Pew numbers (and even her anecdote) are intriguing. I’m tempted to think that birth control and abortion just don’t feel like important voting issues because we’ve been assuming that they were fights we had already won. But with more and more threats to women’s rights and issues, will their importance in determining how we vote rise as well?

Whatever the polls say, a candidate’s stance on birth control, abortion, healthcare, equal pay, etc., matter to me. Of course the economy and jobs are important, but what good will job opportunities be if I get derailed from my career path by an unplanned pregnancy? What good is my dream job, if my employer can decide not to cover birth control in the company health plan?

Would you vote for a candidate based on his or her economic policies, even if you disagree with the candidate’s stance and policies on women’s issues? 



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