By Teresa Welsh |
Will the new focus on abortion help Democrats in the 2012 election?
Yes. Rep. Todd Akin said out loud what many Republicans actually believe about abortion. The official party platform just released this week shows a party far outside the mainstream. That the platform gives the same rights to a fertilized egg as a person has real-world consequences for women. This type of personhood language has been a part of legislation in states across the country and has largely been rejected by voters, even in the red states.
The Republicans are in a dangerous position. By proclaiming their desire to ban abortion in all cases, including rape and incest, they are showing themselves to be extreme and out of touch. Even their party's nominee for president, Mitt Romney, says he would allow exceptions for rape and incest.
Most Americans--even those that are personally against abortion--do not believe that a rape victim or a child who is molested should be forced by law to have the rapist's baby. Abortion is legal for all women, and if Republicans get their way, there will be a return of "back alley" abortions for American women. That is the real-life impact of this rhetoric.
The war on women is being fought on many fronts, and abortion is just the latest in a series which only exacerbates the gender gap between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. The latest dust-up over abortion follows the contraception controversy and the failure to pass a bill addressing paycheck fairness. It's all connected.
Women will make all the difference in this election. Currently, Barack Obama has a 12-point lead among women voters. When women hear the president say, "we shouldn't have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making healthcare decisions on behalf of women," they know they have a leader who is on their side. Contrast that with Akin and vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (a Wisconsin Republican), who wanted to redefine rape as "forcible rape" just last year.
The choice is clear. The Democratic Party is promoting policies that make women's lives better, including the new women's health provisions in Obamacare that went into effect earlier this month. While the Republicans are citing crank science to justify a radically anti-woman agenda, Democrats are focused on the serious issues that impact women and families, and women will come out en masse in November to support those efforts.
About Zerlina Maxwell Democratic Strategist
Ford O'Connell Republican Strategist, Conservative Activist, and Political Analyst
Jamie Chandler Political Scientist at Hunter College
Lara Brown Author of 'Jockeying for the American Presidency: The Political Opportunism of Aspirants'