Women in the World

10.12.12

Women, Don’t Be Fooled: Mitt Romney Will End Safe and Legal Abortion

Romney’s abortion flip-flop can’t disguise the fact that he wants to overturn Roe v. Wade, writes Dawn Laguens of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

No amount of spin from Mitt Romney’s campaign team can change the truth: He is committed to ending access to safe and legal abortion for women across the country.

This week, he tried to muddy the waters, saying, “There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda.” Since that statement, his campaign has done everything to try to take it back, change it, cover it up.

Last night at the vice presidential debate, running mate Paul Ryan reaffirmed his stance against safe and legal abortion, saying he doesn’t think “unelected judges should make this decision” about whether abortion is illegal. Rather, he said, “people through their elected representatives in reaching a consensus in society through the democratic process should make this determination.” In other words, the Supreme Court shouldn’t decide—politicians should.

Romney has promised numerous times to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision ensuring that abortion remains a safe and legal procedure for a woman to consider, if and when she needs it. During a Republican presidential debate this past January, Romney said outright, “Do I believe Roe v. Wade should be overturned? Yes I do.” As president, he could very well have the power to make it happen.

Current Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer are two steadfast votes supporting continued access to safe and legal abortion. However, both of these judges are also well into their 70s and could soon step down, giving the president elected this November the potential to reshape the court. As president, Romney would undoubtedly fulfill his promise to the extreme elements of the Republican Party, and replace these two justices with judges committed to overturning Roe v. Wade.

But we rarely talk about what overturning Roe would exactly mean for women in America. If overturned, each state would have carte blanche to end access to abortion. And it’s clear many state legislatures would relish the opportunity to do just that. Since 2010 more than 2,000 reproductive-health provisions in statehouses across the country have been introduced, and the vast majority seek to undermine women’s health; 230 of these measures have passed, and 57 percent of these new provisions—131 in total—restrict access to safe and legal abortion.

In fact, if the Supreme Court overturned Roe, numerous states already have abortion bans on the books that could take effect automatically within 45 to 60 days of the decision’s being overturned. All of these states would immediately stop health-care providers from offering abortion.

That is the reality of a Romney presidency.

Each state would have carte blanche to end access to abortion. And it’s clear many state legislatures would relish the opportunity to do just that.

At the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, we understand that abortion is a deeply personal and sometimes complex medical decision. It’s a topic that engenders strong feelings, where people of good will can disagree. But there’s one thing on which most Americans can agree: decisions about abortion should not be made by politicians. Every woman should be able to make her own personal health-care decisions with the counsel of her family, faith, and health-care provider—whether she’s considering raising a child, ending a pregnancy, or choosing adoption. By inserting himself in these personal health-care decisions, Romney clearly doesn’t understand the real-life decisions women and their families may face.

But Romney’s pledge to overturn Roe is just one part of his out-of-touch agenda for women’s health. This week he reaffirmed his promise to “get rid” of the federal funding Planned Parenthood health centers use to provide birth control and cancer screening to millions of women. And he’s pledged to overturn the Affordable Care Act, a law that provides tremendous health and economic benefits for women, including access to birth control and cancer screenings without co-pays, guaranteed direct access to ob/gyn providers without referrals, and an end to discriminatory practices against women, such as charging women higher insurance premiums and denying coverage for preexisting conditions. Also thanks to the Affordable Care Act, preexisting conditions will no longer include things such as C-section, rape, and domestic violence.

As executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, it’s no surprise that I feel strongly about protecting women’s health in this election. But I’m also a mom of three teenage girls, and it horrifies me to think of their growing up in a country where they won’t be able to make their own health-care decisions. A country where preventive health care could be inaccessible. A country where health-insurance companies treat them differently because they are women.

That’s not a world I want to see for my daughters or any of our young people.

Barack Obama understands that. He is committed to protecting women’s health for his daughters, for my daughters, and for your daughters. This election isn’t just about the next four years. It’s about the path forward. It’s about the future. It’s about making sure that the next generation of women and their families have the opportunity to succeed and live the healthy lives they deserve.