Major news media seems to have been utterly hypnotized by W. Romney’s endless vacillations and changed policy positions. But taking a step back from the enormous cloud of smoke currently being produced by the Romney campaign, we can look at clear signals via both his chosen staff and his past preferences to see which way key policy choices are likely to go.
The first, and most critical, issue is women’s reproductive rights. As a haven for leaders who are willing to let their religious beliefs transfer to laws governing women’s bodies, the US has had a very rocky history of women’s rights. Key reproductive freedoms like access to birth control and family planning services were only won during a brief period of renaissance during the 1960s and 1970s. The establishment of an abortion freedom via the Roe v. Wade decision put the capstone on women’s reproductive freedom in America and ushered in a world-wide age of expanded rights for women around the globe.
Even as these new freedoms were put in place, though, enemies of women’s rights gathered in a generations-long attempt to return America to the dark days of back alley abortions and to a time when certain forms of contraception were illegal. This backlash gained steam during the 1980s and continues to this day in the form of, likely, four conservative Supreme Court justices who are ideologically disposed to overturning Roe v. Wade. It also includes a massive influx of legislators who have fought vehemently in Congress to curtail women’s access to birth control, family planning, key health services, and to overturn abortion rights in even the most damaging and harmful cases.
In total, Republicans in the 112th Congress have voted 55 times to curtail women’s rights. This includes 17 votes to allow health insurance providers to discriminate against women, 11 votes to cut women’s access to preventive care (breast screenings etc), 10 votes to restrict access to abortion or roll back abortion rights, 7 votes to cut funding for women’s nutrition, 3 votes to block access to reproductive and maternal care services, 3 votes to undermine Medicare and Medicaid services to women, and 14 votes that undermine environmental laws protecting pregnant women from toxic substances (Source).
It is also worth noting that President Obama has indicated he will never acquiesce to the extreme anti-woman tendencies of the right wing and has threatened vetoes on any such legislation that crosses his desk.
These Republican anti-woman votes accounted for about 5% of all time spent by the 112th Congress. Among the leaders of this legislative war on women was none other than Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan. Ryan voted yes on almost every anti-woman bill submitted and has pushed for legislation making it illegal to perform an abortion even in cases of rape or incest. Ryan also pushed for a personhood bill that would make abortion even in the event of saving the mother’s life illegal. Ryan’s anti-woman votes parallel those of extremists Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock who have both said that even in cases of rape abortion should be illegal. Mourdock was recently quoted as saying that ‘God intended rape pregnancies’ (Source).
Riding in on this wave of Republican anti-women sentiment is Mitt Romney. Romney claimed as recently as a month ago that he would support legislation overturning Roe v. Wade. And his choice of running mate, Paul Ryan, is among the most anti-woman of a very anti-woman Republican House. Romney earlier noted that he would also overturn the Fair Pay Act. His campaign seems to sense a growing outrage among women and, so, over the past few weeks the Romney campaign has obfuscated past extreme anti-woman positions, attempting to appear kinder and gentler to women. But this is merely the desperate smoke screen of a candidate in jeopardy of losing and seeking to pander to all voters in hopes of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat (Source).
As we saw with Bush, promises of compassion made on the campaign trail have been about as valuable as a bucket of spit. And Romney, who has shown us only the endlessly changing face of a doppelganger, is certainly far from worthy of engendering trust.
In the case of a Romney election, there would be a very high risk that many women’s freedoms would be overturned. Romney-appointed justices would almost certainly be anti-abortion. Further, Romney would likely work with Republicans in Congress to continue to draft and expand anti-women legislation. A long march back to the days where women were treated as objects and property would have begun and much of the hard work of the brave American women of generations past is in dire danger of being removed should Romney be elected. Romney’s assurances to the contrary are merely empty words — a half-hearted and unclear pledge which holds no honor. To stake women’s future on such false promises and to ignore the Republican legacy of an endless war on women would be the very epitome of folly.