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Merle Hoffman Headshot

Where Are the Women?

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After debating every major "right-to-life" leader in this country -- including Jerry Falwell -- I didn't need to watch the debate tonight to know that no matter who the pundits say won, it is women who are losing.

In the meager segment set aside to discuss health care in tonight's debate, both candidates brought out their shop-worn stump speeches on the merits and weaknesses of Obamacare.

At one point Governor Romney said the government shouldn't be "telling a patient and a doctor what kind of treatment they should have."

What an opening for Obama to come out strongly in favor of reproductive freedom and a woman's right to choose. This was Obama's opportunity to emphasize, with strength, that he supports Roe v. Wade -- which I consider to be the Medical Equal Rights Amendment for women.

But he didn't. Like I said, it's the same old story.

Don't get me wrong. I am not a Romney supporter. Far from it. I just wish that one of the candidates would have said something specifically about women beyond wishing Michelle Obama a happy anniversary. (Actually Romney's congratulations were focused more on the president. Weren't they?)

The candidates talked about a grandmother and the women they met on the campaign trails. But not a word about women's health care -- or the fact that it is the women of this country sitting at all those "kitchen tables" who make the health care decisions for their families.

It is the women of this country who are the most impacted by the economic downturn. And this is intrinsically related to health care.

For example, as the founder and president of Choices Women's Medical Center I commissioned an analysis of previous studies, what I termed "ABORTIONOMICS," which showed that today's economic hardships are a major factor in women's decisions to have abortions. I presented at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on Jan. 17, 2011.

It seems obvious: When the economy dips, it's harder for people to raise a family. But this living reality, borne out in the report's findings, remains outside today's heated political debates about abortion and birth control. As a result, too many politicians seem oblivious to the consequences of unwanted pregnancies. They are oblivious that when these pregnancies are carried to term, the resulting births impose difficult, if not impossible, financial burdens on already strapped mothers and families.

The debate was mute on the subject of women. But the climate outside in the real world is dangerously loud. A new videotape just surfaced on MSNBC showing Republican Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin speaking to Congress in 2008 and comparing abortion to slavery. He also said that "abortion doctors" perform these procedures on women who are not pregnant.

Now, according to Akin, not only can women's bodies decide for themselves if they will become impregnated with a legitimate rapist sperm, they can also produce fetuses on demand for abortion doctors to abort!

It would be laughable if it wasn't so serious.

Akin is not going rogue -- Akin is just going public on expressing the political/philosophical foundations of the current Republican party, including Rick Santorum, Jim DeMint and Newt Gingrich, all of whom have come out in support of the congressman. Clearly, the dangerous views of my old debating opponent, Jerry Falwell, live on even if he is no longer with us.

This is what Mitt Romney represents for women of this country.

But where is the response from President Obama?

To read more from Merle and from On The Issues Writers, visit On The Issues.

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