For Women's Reproductive Rights, Choice Is Clear in 2012 Election

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Just this morning, the Republican Party voted to include the "Human Life Amendment" in their platform, calling for a constitutional ban on abortions nationwide, even for rape victims.

[Op-Ed]

In a recent statement that was both factually inaccurate and horribly offensive, Republican Missouri Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin said that victims of "legitimate rape" don't get pregnant because "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan tried to distance themselves from the remark -- but the fact is they're in lockstep with Akin on the major women's health issues of our time. Just this morning, the Republican Party voted to include the "Human Life Amendment" in their platform, calling for a constitutional ban on abortions nationwide, even for rape victims.

Several Romney supporters and advisers stood silently by while this vote took place, and The Los Angeles Times reports that the platform "was written at the direction of Romney's campaign."

President Obama spoke out in response to Akin's comments: "What I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn't have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women."

This controversy is not an accident, or a mistake, or an isolated incident. It's a reflection of a Republican Party whose policies are dangerous for women. There is a clear choice for women in this election: Stand with President Obama.

I entered this national debate on women's rights in February, when, as a Georgetown Law student, I testified before members of Congress on the issue of contraception. Without knowing me or my story, Rush Limbaugh called me a "slut" and a "prostitute" on his radio show.

Many Americans stepped forward to tell me they agreed with me, and supported my right to speak out without being verbally attacked. President Obama stood with us.

Mitt Romney, on the other hand? He didn't even condemn the remark, instead saying only: "It's not the language I would have used."

Since that moment, I'm even more resolved to continue the fight to make sure every single woman -- and every man who cares about the women in his life -- knows exactly what's at stake in this election. The Republicans are frighteningly clear on these issues.

The party platform itself includes a "salute" to states that have pushed "informed consent" laws, such as those that force women seeking an abortion to first undergo an invasive and medically unnecessary ultrasound.

Just last year, Paul Ryan joined Todd Akin and more than 200 other Republicans in co-sponsoring legislation that would have narrowed the definition of rape, limiting which victims of rape were "legitimate" enough to receive financial assistance for access to abortion care.

Mitt Romney famously says he would "get rid of" Planned Parenthood if he had the chance. And both Romney and Ryan pledge to go back to a system where insurance companies can discriminate against women and charge us more than men for the same health insurance.

Akin's comments shouldn't be surprising. But this isn't about him -- just like it was never about me.

President Obama has told us what he's fighting for: "I want women to control their own health choices, just like I want my daughters to have the same opportunities as your sons."

Republicans, led by Romney and Ryan, have made it clear that they want to make our decisions for us. President Obama trusts us to make our own.


"Speaking Truth To Empower."



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