Equal pay and women’s rights among importance for women voters


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Thirty-nine years after the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, abortion — among other issues — rises to the top of many political discussions in an election in which women will make up the majority of the popular vote.

“We haven’t had this much attention to women’s issues in a while,” said Tracy Osborn, a University of Iowa associate professor of political science who studies women in politics.

In the 2008 election, women accounted for 70.4 million votes, and men accounted for 60.7 million votes. The gender gap grows increasingly important, especially for President Obama’s campaign.

In order to win, both candidates must look toward the female population to ensure a spot in the Oval Office.

“For Democratic candidates, it’s key to get women’s vote,” Osborn said. ”But not all of them get [the vote].”

Local organizations, such as the UI Women’s Action and Resource Center see a similar rise in importance of women’s issues, such as reproductive rights, women in the economy, and equal work for equal pay.

“I think it’s interesting that there’s so much prominence in this election,” said Linda Stewart Kroon, the WRAC director. “I think it’s interesting that these issues have been around for a long time, but are coming to the forefront again.”

While Osborn predicts Obama will receive a majority of the women’s vote, she said GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney likely hopes to swing some kind of gap.

“I think they both see it as a crucial vote sector for their win,” she said. “Generally, Democratic candidates identify better with the gender gap.”

In the 2008 election, Obama received 56 percent of the female vote, and Sen. John McCain received 43 percent.

With women’s issues at the forefront, Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood have found their ways back into the political limelight.

According to Romney’s campaign site, “he will end federal funding for abortion advocates like Planned Parenthood.”

This doesn’t sit well with health-care providers who offer women’s services such as abortions, breast-cancer screenings, and contraceptive access.

“This is where I take it personally,” said Cecile Richards, the Planned Parenthood president at an Iowa City event on Oct. 5. “Those are fighting words.”

Organizations opposing Planned Parenthood and abortion look forward to this resolution.

“We are pro-life and believe that taxpayer dollars at any level should not be used to fund organizations like Planned Parenthood, which provides abortion services,” Gary Marx, the executive director of the Faith and Family Coalition, wrote in an email.

According to the U.S Census Bureau, in 2008, roughly 61 million women nationwide were using some form of contraceptive.

Doctors performed roughly 1.2 million abortions last year, with 6,560 abortions occurring in Iowa.
Not only does the conservative coalition support a federal cut for Planned Parenthood, it looks forward to an overturning of the historic precedent.

“We literally could lose 40 years of a Constitutional right in America if Mitt Romney becomes president,” Richards said.

Contrary to Planned Parenthood’s beliefs, the conservative coalition supports Romney’s plan to overturn the landmark case.

“We believe that Roe v. Wade is bad Constitutional law made by an activist court,” Marx wrote in an email. “The decisions regarding abortion policy should be made by the people’s representatives in the Legislature — not un-elected judges. Roe v. Wade should be overturned and the issue sent back to the states.”

But that feat may not be so easy.

If elected, Romney wouldn’t have the power to overturn the case. Instead, he would likely nominate two judges to the Supreme Court following the anticipated retirement of two justices, giving him the power to appoint judges who would likely hold his viewpoints on the case, Osborn said.

While Romney speaks to what he plans to change, Obama said he has plans to maintain his positions.
According to his campaign website, Obama supports women’s right to make their own reproductive choices, along with his continued support to fund Planned Parenthood.

Similarly to the political parties and various organizations that can’t seem to agree on an appropriate stance for these issues, students at the UI hold opposing ideas on the contentious issue.

“I think it should be illegal because you’re killing an innocent life,” UI freshman Annette Dohanics said. ”People are getting abortions for the wrong reasons. They think it’s a quick fix for what they claim is a mistake.”

Peer Morgan Morse doesn’t agree.

“I don’t think it’s the government’s decision to say what we do with our bodies,” she said.

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