Republican National Convention and Women

By Kara Odum ‘15Guest Writer

At the recent Republican National Convention held in Tampa, Florida, Republicans came together to nominate Mitt Romney and to promote their party platform. One highly contentious women’s issue that was addressed at the convention concerned access to contraception and abortions. Why politicians should have the ability to dictate such a private issue is beyond me, but plenty of pro-life legislation has been introduced recently, both at the national and state level. The famous Roe v. Wade case of 1973 upheld a woman’s right to choose, citing a “right to privacy” implicit in the 14th Amendment, but Republicans have been fighting to overturn this ruling.

Mitt Romney supported some pro-choice legislation as Governor of Massachusetts but promised to “protect the sanctity of life” during his RNC acceptance speech. As governor, Romney also vetoed a bill that would have guaranteed rape victims access to Plan B, the morning-after pill. His reasoning was that the morning-after pill “could terminate life after conception.” This quote is bothersome in that it is completely inaccurate; the pill actually works by delaying ovulation, which occurs before the egg is fertilized. Romney’s lack of understanding led him to moronically refer to the morning-after pill as an “abortive pill.” If a presidential candidate doesn’t even understand the basic science behind mainstream contraception, he can’t be trusted to make reasonable, logical decisions for the well-being of women in America.

VP nominee Paul Ryan went even further in his opposition to abortion by co-sponsoring a bill which would outlaw abortion except in cases of “forcible rape.” Ryan’s allowance for abortions only in cases of “forcible rape” places violent sexual assault at the top of the rape hierarchy, as though other types of rape (such as acquaintance rape) are less legitimate. That a politician can be so insensitive publicly is appalling. Someone lacking such a basic understanding of sexual violence should not be trying to force his ill-formed opinion on the rest of the country.

Condoleezza Rice is pro-choice with caveats: she supports parental notification and opposes late-term abortions. Rice’s unwillingness to align her moderate position more closely with Romney’s extreme position probably cost her the VP nomination.

It is surprising that the republicans are polling so well even as they alienate women with legislation such as the “Human Life Amendment,” which would outlaw all abortions even in cases of rape, incest, or imminent danger to the mother’s life.

Several conservative political action organizations such as Republicans for Planned Parenthood and Republicans for Choice have made it clear that not all Republicans are anti-abortion. But the existence of such groups is hardly reassuring; they have been ineffective at tempering the GOP’s extreme stance on women’s health issues. If Romney is elected, Republicans will control the Executive Branch as well as the House of Representatives, paving the way toward successful anti-choice legislation.

While I would call the Democrats’ claim of a Republican “war on women” slightly hyperbolic, I strongly condemn the Republican Party’s attempt to strip women of their right to choose when and how to raise their families.