If Mitt Romney wins the Presidential election tomorrow, Planned Parenthood is at risk to lose funding. For millions of women, that equals a loss of access to birth control, health and pre-natal care. If Romney wins the election, abortion rights are at risk. Romney has said that he'll repeal Obamacare. From there, it's likely that some employers will deny women's access to birth control through health insurance because of that employer's personal moral beliefs.
Romney's been ducking and dodging on these issues for a long while now, trying to sound both moderate and staunchly conservative at the same time. But let's move on to his economic positions for a moment. He says that small businesses are a key element in saving the American economy. What Romney isn't talking about is that there are 8.3 million women-owned businesses in the U.S.. They employ 7.7 million workers and bring in $1.3 trillion in receipts. This is a good thing, though it's be great to see those figures go even higher.
Here's the bad news: A great many of the women starting and running those businesses are of childbearing years. If access to birth control is compromised, there will be more unintended pregnancies. Whether married or single, this will negatively impact the number of women starting up and running a business. It's not that pregnant women or mothers of small children can't run a business, but the reality is that it is more difficult. (We can't all be Marissa Mayer.) Consider the costs. By one government estimate, it costs $235,000 to raise a child -- and that doesn't include college. Childcare is expensive, even on two incomes. If you have, let's say, two children (just to make the math easy), the daycare tuition increases twofold. There are twice as many trips to doctor's appointments. Twice as many missed workdays due to a sick child staying home from school. That's two times everything.
Just a few months ago, the serious debate questioning whether or not women can have it all emerged from an article in The Atlantic. I think most of us who had the chance to read the article after working, picking up the kids, forgetting the dry cleaning, realizing we're out of dog food and pondering if frozen pizza two nights in a row constitutes a bad diet and reached a near consensus that's it just might be impossible to have it all. Especially if having it all includes having matching socks available any given day of the week.
I don't know that Mitt read that article. I haven't heard that he'd entered the debate on whether or not women can have it all or how women who cannot control their reproductive functioning will have the time and energy to do things like run businesses, become entrepreneurs and meet the needs of their families. They'll be too busy having more kids and scrambling to find adequate prenatal care because the clinic down the street has been closed, shuttered and defunded.
Supporting small business in America means supporting women business owners and workers. Planning the "when" and "if" of motherhood is important if women are to continue on with self-respect and sovereignty. It is imperative if women are to continue as a growing economic force. I'm voting for Obama.
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