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OP-ED | A Woman Voter’s Guide to the 2012 Election

by Sarah Darer Littman | Sep 21, 2012 1:00pm
(10) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Opinion

In my last piece, I wrote about why I now call myself a “recovered Republican” as a result of the party’s unholy marriage with the socially conservative right wing.

With the National Republican Party’s inclusion of a strict “no abortions, no exceptions” plank (not even for rape, incest, or the health of the mother) GOP candidates in the more socially moderate Northeast, including those running in our own state, are trying very hard to frame this election as “It’s the Economy, stupid,” and playing a fervent game of pay no attention to the radical folks behind the curtain.

Do they think “us girls” are too distracted, disinterested, or dim to see what’s really going on? Oh, maybe, like Ohio Governor, John Kasich, they think we’re too busy at home “doing laundry” to worry our pretty little heads with important, difficult issues like “business” and “the economy” and “the politics of our own reproductive health.” Or, perhaps, it’s simply the politics of paternal patronization.

“Mitt Romney is pro-life,” Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said on ABC This Week, in June. “He’ll govern as a pro-life president, but you’re going to see the Democrats use all sorts of shiny objects to distract people’s attention from the Obama performance on the economy. This is not a social issue election.”

Excuse me, “shiny objects?” Is that what the GOP considers access to reproductive healthcare, contraception, and control over our own medical decisions in conjunction with our doctors without the interference of legislators? Wow. Is it any wonder that Obama leads over Romney on women’s issues by more than 20 percentage points?

Two weeks ago, the stakes became even clearer, when Romney appeared on Meet the Press and pulled back the curtain: “ I hope to appoint justices for the Supreme Court that will follow the law and the constitution. And it would be my preference that they reverse Roe v. Wade.”

So let’s think about this, ladies. Mitt and his Republican allies want to take us back 40 years on the reproductive health front. We’ll talk a bit more about that in a minute. But we’re supposed to not bother our pretty little heads about this because we’re back home doing the laundry and Mitt and his gang of “We Built That” guys (note to men: our uteruses built you) are going to take care of the economy for us.

But hold on . . . what was that Mitt said to David Gregory in that Meet the Press interview?

Will you balance the budget in your first term? Is that a commitment you can make?

I’ll balance the budget by the end of my second term. Doing it in the first term would cause, I believe, a dramatic impact on the economy. Too dramatic. And therefore the steps I’ve put in place and we’ve put together a plan that lays out how we get to a balanced budget within eight to 10 years.

So let me get this straight. President Obama was sworn in during was the worst month of job losses since the Great Depression. The President and Congress acted swiftly to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, managed to pass historic healthcare legislation that guarantees that people like me don’t have to worry about my insurance being rescinded every year, or being turned down for insurance like I was when I moved back here from England despite the fact that I’d maintained private insurance continuously but it wasn’t AMERICAN insurance so I was out of luck, and would be again under Romney’s plan.

The stock market certainly doesn’t appear to reflect Romney’s grim view of the economy.


And trends for GDP and employment discredit the “stimulus didn’t work” argument.

Yet according to Romney, Obama has done such lousy job he should be voted out and, paying no attention to the men behind the curtain, we should put Romney in charge of the economy. Why? Because he’s a businessman. A “job creator,” although the folks at companies like Ampad, Dade International, GSI Industries, and Stage Stores might beg to differ.

But even starting from a much better place than the current incumbent, by Romney’s own admission it would take him two terms — possibly two and a half — to balance the budget, because to do it any sooner would have a too “dramatic effect on the economy.” Independents and moderate Republican women, Mr. Romney just made a great case for re-electing President Obama, particularly when his running mate is someone who doesn’t appear to understand the concept of balancing concerns about the deficit with “dramatic effects on the economy” and who, along with his Tea Party cohorts, was willing to vote to drive our nation off the fiscal cliff into sovereign credit default last summer.

So now that Mr. Romney himself has demolished his own “it’s the economy, stupid!” argument, let’s pull aside the curtain and have a look at some of the “shiny objects” that he and the rest of the Republicans — especially those running in Connecticut and other more socially moderate states — are trying so desperately to get you to ignore. I was hoping to put together a comprehensive list, but it’s simply too long.

Fortunately, someone has put together this handy, albeit provocatively titled video, which highlights some of the more egregious examples: 

Hate to break it to you guys, but as lovely a woman as I’m sure she is, hearing Ann Romney giggle, “We love women!” doesn’t make up for any of this.

And that brings me to Linda McMahon. Leaving aside the WWE’s frantic attempt to scrub its misogynist content from the Internet, McMahon, despite her attempts to distance herself from Romney, is very much like him, trying to be all things to all people. She claims to be pro-choice, yet would have supported the Blunt Amendment. Her rationale for doing so, according to campaign spokesman Todd Abrajano, was on grounds of religious freedom and because she is opposed to federal “over-regulation.”

“The government should not be able to force people to pay for health care practices that go against their religious beliefs,” Abrajano said.

The Blunt amendment wouldn’t deny women birth control, Abrajano argued. “There are plenty of other opportunities for women to get birth control,” he said. It’s available, for example, at Planned Parenthood for about “4 dollars,” he said.

“Linda is not opposed to birth control,” Abrajano said. She just thinks that the federal government shouldn’t force employers to provide it, he said. “Those are not mutually exclusive.”

Leaving aside the fact the inaccurate statement on the price of birth control at Planned Parenthood, it’s pretty clear Mrs. McMahon doesn’t like government regulation on anything that prevents her from making a buck, like providing health insurance to WWE’s talent. As for the religious freedom argument, if a hospital is receiving federal funding, why shouldn’t it have to conform to federal laws? According to the National Women’s Law Center. the Blunt Amendment would have created “a huge loophole, allowing employers and plans to use religious or moral convictions to eliminate critical health care services.”

Like Romney, Mrs. McMahon has been inconsistent on many of her positions — like her feelings about the 47 percent. With a Supreme Court nomination in the balance, women can’t afford the risk of voting for someone we can’t trust.

Sarah Darer Littman is an award-winning columnist and novelist of books for teens. Long before the financial meltdown, she worked as a securities analyst and earned her MBA in Finance from the Stern School at NYU.

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(10) Comments

posted by: GoatBoyPHD | September 22, 2012  11:24am


Let’s get to one salient fact: among non-hispanic white women (AKA Caucasians) you represent 5 out of every 10 women (according to Gallup)and your unheard from doppleganger represents 4 of 10 of those women.

1 out of 10 of the women is a halver. Torn between the two candidates and leans a little back and forth.

So yes. Good Headline. A woman’s guide. One woman representative perhaps of 1/2 of the non-Hispanic white women voters.

I dont think most men think women are stupid shiny objects now that they have free birth control, Free Plan B, and still need abortions past the first trimester. No. They don’t think they are dumb shiny sex objects at all.

Seen the figures on STDs lately among kids who abandoned the condom for the pill and the subversion of safe sex programs in favor of feeding young girls pharmaceuticals?

posted by: Sensible | September 22, 2012  8:48pm

You don’t represent me. And you probably don’t represent women with infertility problems. Or women who love the church. Or women who are out of work. Or married to men out of work. Or women trying to balance their budgets with milk over $3/gallon and heating oil and gas over$4/gallon. But please tell me more about why I should subsidize birth control.

posted by: saramerica | September 22, 2012  10:24pm


Seen the figures on teen pregnancies in the Red States that favor “abstinence only” education?

posted by: GoatBoyPHD | September 24, 2012  1:09am


Time magazine does a pretty good job in this article below discussing pregnancy and birth rate and abstinence education. Many inconsistencies.

Then there’s the stat that CT and Wyoming have similar preg rates but Wyoming has 2x the birth rate (low abortion rate) and it doesn’t destroy their economy.

Social acceptance of teen birth varies and there’s a boat load of addition info concerning the expectations and differences in more rural states. CT has lower marriage and divorce rates among the young and more ‘common law’ co-habitating relationships. CT ages into marriage.

And the article misses lots of other random factoids like 2% of teen mothers fail to get college degrees by 30. Tragic. But that figure isn’t that much worse than otherwise similar demographic HS dropouts who also fail to get 4-year degrees by 30.

The good news: we can bring the Red States Hartford and Bridgeport schools and poverty and shout the triumph of the Blue States!

Yes,  You too can have the Hartford and Bridgeport meccas as social models. We can bring you free contraception and abortion and a Northern model of poverty!

posted by: Noteworthy | September 24, 2012  7:45am

After spending two hours writing a pointed response, I decided it would be best to summarize.

Women are smarter and more nuanced than this column allows. The subjects used as a guide are presented in such a biased, even twisted way in order to support the thesis and in doing so, this column denigrates and diminishes women and why they vote. While complaining about the GOP “shiny objects” Littman then becomes what she criticizes and proffers what she hates.

From “why did you kill Jesus” misunderstanding in childhood to the stock market to national healthcare and the Blunt amendment and the Supreme Court - each are cherry picked to create this guide. It’s best use is for women to investigate these subjects for themselves and vote accordingly.

posted by: saramerica | September 24, 2012  12:54pm


Sensible - I’m genuinely curious as to why someone out of work or with a husband out of work would vote for a woman who has pledged to overturn ACA as one of the first things she’d do. Assuming an out of work family can even afford Cobra, once it runs out under Romney’s plan they’d be screwed if they have any pre-existing conditions because they won’t have maintained continuous coverage. Oh yes, he said last night on 60 Minutes that they can go to the emergency room if they don’t have insurance, but hey, that’s part of the reason my insurance as a self-employed single mother of two kids is over $2000 a month, and that’s with a pretty high deductible.

Noteworthy - I think you are conflating two different columns.

posted by: wmwallace | September 26, 2012  1:25am

You must be one of those who think republicans have a war against women. Please you should live in some undeveloped country where there is a true war against women everyday.

One last thing. What about the economy Sarah. I find it hard to believe you you ever a republican, maybe one in name only.

posted by: syruphart | September 26, 2012  11:19am

You do not speak for me.  This should be the biased women’s guide to voting.  Try writing an article with a down the middle view point.  This entire article is aimed at bashing the right while making excuses for failures on the lefts behalf.  And please stop calling abortions reproductive health.  Abortions are not healthy and can lead to many complications including death.  Abortions are not improving the health of women’s reproductive organs. 

Next time you write a guide to voting, try writing pros and cons to each candidate and not just your own personal bias slant on the subject.  Or title it correctly with something like “Why I’m voting for Obama.”

posted by: saramerica | September 27, 2012  7:18am


WmWallace: “What about the economy?”

Perhaps you missed paragraphs 8 through 17?  Maybe you want to re-read…

posted by: saramerica | September 27, 2012  7:23am


syruphart - restricting the ability of a woman to terminate a pregnancy even if continuing it might risk her health IS a matter of woman’s reproductive health. What’s more, it’s a matter of putting “Christian” values over all other religious values. My religion is REALLY pro-life, putting the life of the mother over the life of the fetus, recognizing that she is actually alive, viable, might have other children that rely on her for love and sustenance. I really question the “values” of a party that would legislate that a woman cannot make her own decisions based on the advice of her doctor when HER LIFE might be at stake. Where’s the “freedom” and “individual liberty” there?