It is one of the most controversial issues in the United States that has caused debate for years among civilians and politicians. Along with the gun law debate, it is normally an issue that most campaigns do not touch upon due to its major controversy. It is the issue of abortion; the debate between those against abortion, ‘pro life’, and those for it, ‘pro choice’.
It has been the centre of debate for both parties during the 2012 election campaign. Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is no different to many members of his party in believing in pro life. Romney during this campaign has stated that he is against abortion except in cases of rape, incest or the risk of the mothers’ life. His vice president, Paul Ryan, does not believe in abortion at all, regardless of the situation. This is a key distinction between the two parties, with many of the Democrats, and President Obama, believing in women having the power to choose whether or not to have an abortion.
But Romney has not always stood as an advocate of pro life; previously he has declared himself as a pro choice politician. In 2002, when Romney was campaigning as Governor of Massachusetts, he ran as a pro choice candidate and in a public debate he declared, “I will preserve them. I will protect them. I will enforce them”, in discussion about the pro choice laws in a Massachusetts.
However Romney did not stand by this declaration. In 2005 he emerged officially against abortion by vetoing a bill that would allow rape victims emergency contraception. Furthermore, in a 2007 debate, he stated that he would be “delighted” to sign a bill that would ban abortion completely in all circumstances. It seems that running for the Republican nomination for President has led to a complete reversal of his views.
Romney now advocates himself as adamantly a pro life supporter and his choice of Paul Ryan as his vice president clarifies that. The Democrats have been attempting to use Romney’s traditional views to their advantage by demonstrating to women that the Republican Party does not respect women to make their own decisions.
During the Democratic convention they showed a video which was a tribute to Teddy Kennedy’s contributions to the party; a clip was shown of Romney as a pro choice advocate. This Romney ‘flip-flop’ was seized by the media as an example of political and ethical hypocrisy, given the few years in which he has completely changed his opinion on so fundamental and important a subject.
And this issue will not lose its importance as the election campaign continues. The Democrats are using every opportunity to express how they believe women should not be voting for Romney as he does not respect women to make choices about their own bodies. Although decisions on abortion laws have traditionally largely been decided within the US judicial system, which in theory is nonpartisan, having a Republican presidency will allow a narrative of pro life to grow within US politics and feed into the educational discourse. This, surely, is a step back for the rights women have been fighting for, for decades.