Keeping Score in “the War on Women”

Posted on April 17, 2012

Huffington Post, April 17, 2012 by Anthony D. Romero

So far in Election 2012, we’ve seen a foul-mouthed Rush Limbaugh, men-only Congressional panels on women’s rights, transvaginal probe laws and efforts to restrict women’s access to contraception.

And yet there’s still a dispute over whether there’s a war on women?

Through the hype, women and all Americans deserve better than 24-hour media mayhem. We deserve the facts.

That’s why the American Civil Liberties Union Liberty Watch 2012 project today launched a new report card that reveals all the presidential candidates’ views on a range of key women’s issues important to all voters. Unfortunately, it paints a portrait that would make the Mona Lisa weep.

In the report card, which can be viewed here, we awarded up to four Lady Liberty torches to each presidential candidate on seven issues: abortion rights, access to contraception regardless of employer, Women in Combat, Title IX enforcement, which ensures equality in education and school sports, and support for the Violence Against Women Act, the Family Medical Leave Act and the Equal Pay/Lilly Ledbetter Act.

Here’s what we found:

  • Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney earned only two torches across all seven categories. They were for his support of women in combat. He needs to fight harder on other fronts. Sadly, he has plenty of company.
  • Newt Gingrich scored zero torches across all categories. Ron Paul notched just one for his support of women in combat. Buddy Roemer earned only one torch and Libertarian Gary Johnson, two torches, in the abortion-rights category.
  • President Obama was the outlier, earning four torches in five categories.

Women today represent more than half the population in America, yet far too many of the candidates take their equality only half-seriously.

Equality for women, manifested in the Constitution and the rights it guarantees, isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue. It isn’t even a women’s issue — it’s an American one.

And if there’s one thing about this unpredictable election year that’s become predictable, it is that women are going to decide this election.

Our new report card gives voters and the candidates a roadmap so that more candidates and the voters can begin to finally put full equality for women and all Americans on the horizon.