"How can a woman vote Republican?"
This question was posted to me by my father Wednesday night in text message form while he sat in my parents' living room in North Carolina watching Sandra Fluke's speech at the Democratic National Convention.
I didn't know the answer then, and after some time of reflection I still don't know the answer now, and I'm not alone. Madeline Albright showed her confusion over the very same subject in an interview with the Huffington Post on Monday.
Of course I'm not so obtuse to not realize there are other issues out there besides "women's issues" and of course there are women who I guess would find aspects of the Republican platform appealing, but how can those women overlook the Republican's blatant belief that women are second class?
I admittedly have had my issues with President Obama (and the Democrats as a whole) for promises they didn't keep and accomplishments that never happened. A once almost rabid supporter (I was wearing Obama '08 T-shirts around my college campus in early 2005) I have become jaded and almost completely turned off by the whole process.
But then I remember what Obama has been able to accomplish for women like me.
The first bill Obama signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. This law makes it possible for women to fight in the courts when they discover they are being discriminated against in their pay.
He has given us the Affordable Care Act which now allows women preventative care exams without copays, free contraceptives, and an end to insurance companies charging women more for their insurance for the simple fact they are women. Even though more than 99 percent of women of child bearing age have used contraceptives at some point in their lifetime and even though it is a cost saving measure in the long run, Republicans have vehemently opposed it.
Obama has stood up for a woman's right to choose and has voiced his support for Planned Parenthood, an organization, which counts abortions as only a very small percentage of the services they offer, that provides underserved and economically disadvantaged women with lifesaving personal healthcare.
When you have 83 percent of Americans wanting abortion to be available to women whose lives are at risk or who have gotten pregnant through rape or incest, how can a woman vote for a ticket with Paul Ryan on it? Ryan has said that "the method of conception doesn't change the definition of life" and believes abortion should be banned in all instances. How can they vote for Mitt Romney, who says he supports abortion in those cases, but says he would make it his mission to overturn Roe v. Wade? How can they be part of the party that has given us Todd Akin and Henry Aldridge?
Obama supports the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would help end the really depressing reality that though it is 2012 women still only make 77 cents for every $1 a man makes doing the same work, an act that all Republican Senators voted against in June.
This isn't just on the national level either. Republican controlled states in pockets around the country have tried to limit a woman's access to healthcare. Several have gone so far as to propose "personhood amendments," some of which would define a "life" up to two weeks before conception actually occurs. How that works, I'll never know. These bills could have far reaching effects, not just on abortion, but on contraceptive coverage and in vitro fertilization.
All of this adds up to more than enough for me, and the women I know, to overwhelmingly give Obama a second term. As a woman I'm not sure why the other ticket would even be a remote option.
So no, Dad, I still don't know how a woman can vote Republican. But I do know you and mom raised this woman to know better and for that I thank you.