Huffpost Politics
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Jill Shaw Ruddock Headshot

Why Abortion Is Taking a Front Seat in American Politics

Posted: Updated:

With the economy in free fall, moderate Republicans and disgruntled Obama supporters have been toying with the idea that Republican candidate Mitt Romney could be a viable alternative this November. Romney was actually starting to look like a "moderate Republican" on key social issues while having the business experience to revive a struggling economy. With his selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate, possible swing voters and supporters began to question once again, "Who is Mitt Romney and what does he stand for?"

Voters started to get some clear answers this week.

This has been a long week for the Romney/Ryan ticket. On Sunday, Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin made front page news when he remarked how women's bodies can somehow block an unwanted pregnancy in instances of legitimate rape or forced rape. Vice Presidential hopeful Ryan even called Akin and asked him to bow out of the race for "the good of the team. The fact is that Paul Ryan's record on abortion is largely indistinguishable from Todd Akin's and most of his Republican House colleagues, who have viewed restricting abortion rights as one of their top priorities.

Both Romney and Ryan's camp went into media spin overdrive vehemently trying to distance themselves from Akin. But here's where the adage "Watch what people do, not what they say" becomes relevant. By Tuesday, the Republican platform committee approved language calling for a Constitutional amendment outlawing abortion with no explicit exceptions except for rape or incest. The party also approved a plank supporting abstinence-only education, as it had in 2008. " We renew our call for replacing family planning programs for teens with increased funding for abstinence education, which teaches abstinence until marriage."

The right to have an abortion and the withdrawal of state funding for contraception emerged early as the key issue in the Republican presidential primary race in America. Candidates went to extremes to put where they stood on a woman's right to abortion at the top of their agenda -- ahead of the economy, education environment, health care, terrorism or taxes. Rick Santorum, who at one time was frontrunner in the Republican race, stated that he even opposed abortion in cases of rape and "women must make the best of a bad situation." Vice Presidential hopeful Paul Ryan co-authored this bill and voted with Santorum.

In 2008, Sarah Palin put anti choice and abstinence as a form of birth control at the top of her campaign agenda. It became clear just weeks after she was named John McCain's running mate she forgot to tell her own teenage daughter, Bristol, what happens when you don't abstain, drink too much, and don't have abortion as a choice. Palin became a liability and lost McCain the election.

So why is abortion once again taking a front seat in American politics?

Today, in the United States, more women graduate from university than their male counterparts (three women for every two men), women now earn 60 percent of all master's degrees, and half of all law and medical degrees. Women in their 20s in their largest cities already out-earn men of the same age. Could these gains by women possibly be one of the reasons why so many have become the chief defenders of the unborn?

It wasn't that long ago abortion was legalized: in 1967 it was made legal in England, Wales and Scotland, and on January 22 1973 abortion was legalized in every state in the United States. The legalization of abortion has allowed women the same rights as the man who impregnated her: the right to have sex without the burden and responsibility of having to live with the lifelong consequences of that decision.

Abolishing a woman's right to abortion is one way to keep women from competing for the jobs and boardroom seats that have historically been occupied by men. Re-instituting a pro life society is code for, "Get these women out of my way -- now and in the future."

Because post industrial society does not need physical strength as it did ,but rather values open communication and social intelligence in 21st century -- skills that have traditionally been considered female -- the modern male is not sure what their rightful place in society should be or is. As men lose economic and social traction, they are desperate to hold onto whatever power they have left.

The story of the decline of men has already taken traction. Even Newsweek, the most mainstream of the weekly news magazines, thought it newsworthy to have as their cover story recently, "Man Up! The Traditional Male is An Endangered Species." Can the traditional male successfully thrive in this post industrial world where for tens of thousands of years he has dominated on the basis that he is stronger and faster thereby making him smarter?

Men have had their cake and eaten it too for thousands of years. Western women have had just 60 years of the pendulum swinging in their direction of equal rights and the right to decide when and if they want to have children.

Perhaps when an amendment is passed that enforces every man is legally bound to both care for and pay 50 percent of the costs of raising and educating each and every ejaculated sperm that becomes a viable embryo, the Republican debate in the United States about legalizing abortion and withdrawing state funding for contraception will move to the backseat of the American political agenda.

  Obama Romney
Obama Romney
332 206
Obama leading
Obama won
Romney leading
Romney won
Popular Vote
33 out of 100 seats are up for election. 51 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
Democrat won
Holdover
Republican leading
Republican won
Democrats* Republicans
Current Senate 53 47
Seats gained or lost +2 -2
New Total 55 45
* Includes two independent senators expected to caucus with the Democrats: Angus King (Maine) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.).
All 435 seats are up for election. 218 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
Democrat won
Republican leading
Republican won
Democrats Republicans
Seats won 201 234
Click for Full Results