How Will the Next President Affect Women's Rights?

WomenIt's fair to say that Republicans and Democrats seem to have very different ideas on the preferred roles of women in society.

From the number of times the phrase "family values"  has been used by the GOP presidential candidates, I get the distinct impression that if they had their way, every American woman would grow up, get married to a man, have 2.5 kids, and attend church every Sunday.

Democrats, on the other hand, seem to embrace a broader view of women's preferred roles in American society. They champion the idea that abortion should reman legal and contraception should be both affordable and readily available.

These conflicting party views of women mean that the next president very well could affect women's rights as a whole in the coming years. That's why this week, we're asking our political bloggers the following questions:

What's your take on how the candidates view women's rights?

And how do you think moms' lives might change depending on who's in office?



Newt Gingrich probably would rather leave women's rights out of his stump speeches altogether -- but that's not always possible, as evidenced by this exchange between Newt and a college student, caught by a Daily Kos reporter:

STUDENT: Hi, Speaker, I’m Holly Flynn, a freshman at the college. Two details of your film really stood out to me. One was Phyllis Schlafly’s commentary. And the other was the characterization of women winning World War II as a negative image. So I’d like you to clarify your stance on womens’ rights. And I’d like to know what you’d do to ensure gender equality in the United States. Given that even today, women make 77 cents to every man’s dollar.

GINGRICH: Well, the latter is going to change dramatically in the next generation because more women are going to college than men. And they’re doing better than men and entering professions more than men. In fact, if anything, you’ll be here in fifteen years wondering what we’ll do about [male] inequality and male unemployment. Because the people who had the deepest decline of income are males who don’t go to college.

The reporter makes the point that even though more women are in college than men, they're still making less money than men when they graduate. FAIL.

Rick Santorum probably has the worst record when it comes to women's rights. He's against the use of contraception and supports a ban on abortion even in the case of rape or incest. And he opposes women serving in combat in the military, partially because there are "all sorts of physical issues," as he puts it, but also because he worries that men who are forced to serve alongside women in combat would be less focused on the mission because their natural instincts to protect the woman would kick in.

Judging by the behaviors of a number of men I've known over the years, I'm not so sure  those "natural instincts" actually exist.

As for Mitt Romney, here's what one Huffington Post political writer surmises:

If the next President is a Republican who gets to replace the ailing Ruth Bader Ginsburg with a judicial conservative, the Constitutional right to privacy could be a thing of the past and states could enact laws which would pass Constitutional muster restricting access to birth control or outlawing private consensual homosexual (or even heterosexual) acts.

Writer Miles Mogulescu goes on to say:

Mitt Romney has appointed Robert Bork--who was rejected for a Supreme Court post by the Senate in part because of his opposition to a Constitutional privacy right--as one of his chief legal advisors. If elected President, Bork is likely to play a key role in helping Romney select Supreme Court nominees. With four Justices already likely ready to overturn Roe v. Wade and with it, a single Romney appointment could easily end the Constitutional right to privacy.

No Constitutional right to privacy? Now that would be weird.

Ron Paul doesn't even believe in women's rights. He says rights only belong to individuals, not collective groups. He also opposes abortion, and had this to say about equal pay for women:

The concept of equal pay for equal work is not only an impossible task, it can only be accomplished with the total rejection of the idea of the voluntary contract. By what right does the government assume power to tell an airline it must hire unattractive women if it does not want to?

As for sexual harrassment in the workplace, Paul wrote the following, according to the same source:

Employee rights are said to be valid when employers pressure employees into sexual activity. Why don’t they quit once the so-called harassment starts? Obviously the morals of the harasser cannot be defended, but how can the harassee escape some responsibility for the problem? Seeking protection under civil rights legislation is hardly acceptable.

As for President Obama, he often touts himself as a champion of women's rights, and had this to say a few years ago during an event honoring International Women's Day:

“As I see Sasha and Malia getting older, I think about the world that they -– and all of America’s daughters -– will inherit. And I think about all of the opportunities that are still beyond reach for too many young women and too many of our brothers and sisters — too many of our sisters and mothers and aunts — all of the glass ceilings that have yet to be shattered.”

This is all food for thought, particularly for women who identify themselves with the Republican Party.

Here's what our political bloggers have to say:

Republican Candidates Don't Support Women -- So How Can They Represent Us?

Women's Lives Would Be Better With a Republican President

The Presidential Candidates & Women's Rights

President Obama, Democrats & the Real 'War on Women's Rights'

The Republican War Against Contraception Is Yet Another Reason to Re-Elect Obama

Read More >