By Philippa Haven '17
The upcoming U.S. Presidential election has garnered the attention of millions of Americans due to its drama and rhetoric. There is much at stake, for the incoming president must act as Commander in Chief during a time where terrorism – both homegrown and external – is widespread, bring together people from the far-right and far-left, and possibly even nominate a Supreme Court Justice. This article will cover just one of many controversial issues over which the next president has much dictation: access to birth control.
Both democratic candidates, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, take the viewpoint most allied with public opinion (Gallup Opinion Poll 2015 http://ropercenter.cornell.edu/public-attitudes-birth-control/): birth control is an essential part of healthcare and family planning is a step towards ensuring gender equality. Both want to increase funding for Planned Parenthood, expand the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to support family planning initiatives, and are against the Hobby Lobby decision that enables employers to refuse to cover birth control in employee health plans. Sanders has a 100% approval rating on the Planned Parenthood Action Fund scorecard. Beyond voting to support the ACA, he co-sponsored a bill that would protect women from employers who want to block coverage of birth control. Clinton, who also had a 100% approval rating on the Planned Parenthood scorecard when in the Senate, is endorsed by Planned Parenthood, primarily because she has a long history of sponsoring bills that expand access to birth control and safe abortions. She was an early and vocal supporter of Planned Parenthood, and is famous for the quotation “women’s rights are human’s rights”.
All three remaining Republican candidates, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, and Donald Trump, staunchly object to mandating that all employers cover birth control for their employees, funding Planned Parenthood, and expanding access to abortions. To prove how much he objected the ACA and Planned Parenthood, Cruz orchestrated the 2013 government shutdown (https://rewire.news/article/2013/09/30/house-gop-threatens-shutdown-over-contraception-obamacare/). On day one of his Presidency, Cruz promises to immediately have his Attorney General investigate Planned Parenthood for fraud (https://www.tedcruz.org/issues/life-marriage-and-family/). Kasich, though seemingly moderate in Presidential debates, is one of the most avid pro-life conservatives: as governor of Ohio, he signed 17 women’s health restrictions into law and added a provision in the 2013 Ohio state budget that effectively blocked Planned Parenthood from receiving state funding. Trump has flipped on the issue of abortion several times, however he recently came out with a clarifying statement, saying that women seeking abortions should be subject to “some form of punishment”
(http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/trump-lewandowski-they-re-destroying-very-good-person-n548036). He quickly retracted the statement, something the nominee rarely does, and explained that he meant the doctor performing the abortion is at fault, not the woman.
Access to safe birth control is part of the healthcare of millions of Americans. Furthermore, the majority of Americans see birth control as morally acceptable, despite that fact it is so highly politicized (Gallup Opinion Poll 2015 http://ropercenter.cornell.edu/public-attitudes-birth-control/). This election is pivotal for women’s health rights, for the next president will decide how accessible birth control is for women via whether they continue to fund Planned Parenthood, repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and issue executive orders expanding or constricting abortion access.
What do you think is an important issue the upcoming president will have to address? Is there any topic where you are unsure of where the candidates stand? Email The Voice: email@example.com and we will address it in the next issue.