10 Questions Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan Need to be Asked About Women’s Health Care
In the first presidential debate, women’s health care was the only thing more ignored than moderator Jim Lehrer. Funny, since it was one of the biggest talking points in both campaigns all year.
Last week, abortion was briefly addressed by Vice President Joe Biden and Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan, though framed in terms of the candidates’ feeeeeeeeelings—a disappointing question by moderator Martha Raddatz that couldn’t be more counter-productive. While abortion is a sensitive topic that can evoke strong emotions, we’re not talking around a kitchen table here. Mitt Romney has stated that he will work toward overturning Roe V. Wade. That is tantamount to introducing a new healthcare system for American women. This proposed new system, like the old one before Roe V. Wade, would be stratified according to class and race.
There is no such thing as ending abortion via a policy, Constitutional amendment or conservative Supreme Court justice nominee because there is no “ending abortion.” There is only ending access to safe abortion.
There’s no reason to believe that a post-Roe healthcare system for women would not look a lot like it did pre-Roe.
“Estimates of the number of illegal abortions in the 1950s and 1960s ranged from 200,000 to 1.2 million per year,” according to the Guttmacher Institute. In 1965, illegal abortion accounted for 17 percent of all deaths attributed to pregnancy and childbirth that year.
That’s just the deaths.
According to the same report: “In 1968, the University of Southern California Los Angeles County Medical Center … admitted 701 women with septic abortions, one admission for every 14 deliveries.”
Today, 47,000 women die preventable deaths as a result of complications from unsafe abortion around the world.
Roe V. Wade isn’t a matter of emotions and beliefs, no matter how much the politicians and churches want to frame it that way. If a presidential candidate suggests something as radical as working toward overturning Roe, there are details we need to know:
1. What is the projected preventable death toll for American women after Roe V. Wade is overturned? Surely you can’t suggest a policy guaranteed to increase preventable American deaths and not calculate and address those deaths.
2. Explain the sentencing guidelines for women obtaining illegal abortions or who are self-aborting. And what about the doctors? If a woman became ill while self-aborting, what would emergency room protocol be? Is mental illness included in “for the life of the mother?” How is that determined?
3. “Rape exceptions” needs clarifying detail. Will the rape need to be confirmed by a doctor for a woman to qualify for a safe abortion? Will an assailant need to be named? Would he need to be convicted before the victim could obtain an abortion? If so, what will be the method and cost of accelerating these cases quick enough to allow for safe abortion?
4. Thirty percent of women impregnated by rape choose to carry the pregnancy to term. In cases of rape in which a women’s body doesn’t “shut that whole thing down” and the victim becomes pregnant and decides to have the baby, will the rape-father have any custody rights or financial obligation? Currently, rape-fathers have rights in 31 states. How will you change that? Will a conviction be required to sever his parental rights?
5. In a post-Roe plan, more babies are born into poverty. Do you know how many more? What programs will you offer for this windfall of babies born to poor mothers? How much will healthcare for these children cost? Where will the money come from?
6. If “no sex without consequences,” is the theme, let’s talk about the fathers of children whose mothers would have chosen abortion. An absentee father whose child is on welfare is relying on the state. Will you support programs to DNA-identify the fathers, then garnishee their wages to help support the child? How will this work? How much will these programs cost?
7. Will there be enhanced sentencing for violence against women from partners who do not want them to have the baby so they don’t have the forced expense? What would those laws look like?
8. Ryan co-sponsored a federal bill that claimed a human egg obtains “all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood.” A bill like this would outlaw many types of contraception. What types of modern contraception would it outlaw? How would such a law be enforced?
9. Are you aware of the correlation between contraception use, unwanted pregnancy and abortion?
10. Are you guys effing kidding us with this?