From whether employers should be required to provide funding for contraception to the pro-life/pro-choice debate, women’s rights have become a major topic in the presidential campaign. Both candidates bring rather different positions to the table.
One issue that predates this campaign cycle yet continues to be important is funding for Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood is a nonprofit organization that provides family planning and other health services to mainly low-income women and young adults. Although some have called it an abortion clinic, many people who otherwise might not be able to afford a doctor’s visit can use it for preventative care, such as breast cancer screenings.
President Barack Obama is a strong supporter of Planned Parenthood and has been an advocate for maintaining funding for the organization. At many conventions, Planned Parenthood has advocated for the president, as well as trying to get these issues to the public.
GOP candidate Mitt Romney intends to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood due to the misconception of it being an abortion clinic and his desire of cutting down excess spending to decrease the current deficit.
“I think it is very important that we keep [Planned Parenthood],” senior and Students Against Sexism in Society president Lily McGarr said. “It’s a doctor. It’s a place for counseling. And it’s either free or very little money. So, it’s really important for communities especially like Galesburg, where there is a lot of low-income young girls and low-income single parents who really need that type of education who obviously didn’t have it because they got pregnant by surprise.”
Sophomore Cristian Gorostieta focused on the confusion over Planned Parenthood’s services.
“I don’t understand why abortion is so specifically highlighted when that’s clearly not the only thing they do. Because that’s what they make it sound like, especially Romney,” she said.
Still, Planned Parenthood does provide abortion services. Abortions were declared constitutional by the Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade many years ago, but the controversy has been rekindled politically in this year’s election.
Obama agrees with the ruling and believes that it should be a woman’s choice as to what to do with her body. Romney believes that a life is formed at conception and therefore believes that abortion should be illegal. Romney wants the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and give the decision on abortion to the states since it is such a divided issue. Romney also supports the Hyde amendment, which prohibits federal funding for abortions.
“I find [the debate on abortion] infuriating basically from the standpoint that I do believe it is a woman’s choice,” sophomore Hannah Schierl said. “I don’t think it’s a government’s place to legislate what she can do with her body, because I don’t see any laws that are regulating what men can do with their bodies, and therefore I think women should make a choice.”
Providing contraceptives is another service at Planned Parenthood and has also been strongly debated, but mainly based on who should be providing it. Obama has been a supporter of a woman’s right to contraceptives and making it easier for women to receive them.
Due to the Affordable Healthcare Act, also known as Obamacare, health insurance companies are now starting to cover contraceptives without a deductible or co-pay along with preventative care such as mammograms and cervical health care screenings. Romney believes that corporations that do not believe in contraceptives due to religious affiliations should not have to provide them.
“Sometimes birth control is used for things other than simply birth control,” sophomore Maz King said. “It can be helpful for cramps, your period in general, et cetera. It helps women … so I don’t see why something that helps women medically should be taken away.”
Lately, Romney has tried to appeal to women voters by talking about his plan to make it easier for women to start up their own businesses and get into the workforce, but this plan will help all entrepreneurs no matter their gender.
Obama continues to focus on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the first bill that he signed into law. This act allows someone to file a complaint within 180 days of a paycheck, therefore allowing women more opportunity to fight for equal pay among genders.