By KRISTA SALINARDI AND VALERIE TORRIZO
Weeks after Todd Akin’s controversial remarks on “legitimate rape” surfaced and less than two months from the presidential election, women’s vote is more important than ever as their health, choice and privacy are at stake.
Akin, the U.S. Representative for Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District, who is running as the Republican candidate for Senate, reignited the sensitive debate about the woman’s right to choose an abortion in the case of rape. In an August interview with Charles Jaco on The Jaco Report, Akin was questioned about abortion, and answered, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
After the interview aired, his comment received critical attention and stirred up an explosion of responses from both Democrats and Republicans across the nation.
Democrats believe abortion should be legal and available to women everywhere. However, Republicans feel that it should be an illegal matter, and some even oppose the Roe vs. Wade, a Supreme Court ruling that said the issue of abortion extended to the woman’s decision without legal restriction.
Though Akin later retracted his statement, and apologized for his words, the importance of the female vote, regardless of their political background, is crucial in this year’s election.
“Representing half the country’s population, women’s votes are important in any government election, no matter what’s at stake,” said Maria Marino, a reporter for Crystal Springs from Hamburg, New Jersey. “As a woman, it’s scary to think about not having a choice.”
In 1920, the 19th Amendment of the Constitution granted women the right to vote, and the voice of women have a great impact today, more than ever before.
In the 2008 Presidential Election, women had a higher voting rate (66%), than men (62%), according to the United States Census Bureau.
Both Democrat President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney are appealing to women by putting their wives, Michelle Obama and Anne Romney, as keynote speakers along with other women at the conventions.
President of NARAL Pro-Choice America Nancy Keenan, speaking at the Democratic National Convention, said “women have the right to choose a safe abortion with dignity and privacy.”
Keenan later added that a woman should make her own decisions and there is “no more room politicians to have a say and who don’t know how women’s bodies work.”In the 2012 election, women have just as much value as men when it comes to getting their “voices” heard. A statement from a women’s advocate speaker, Sandra Fluke mentioned that both President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney have different stands on healthcare.
Though she stressed that women must stand up for their rights and make sure women have the proper healthcare.
“When they [Republicans] chose to defund Planned Parenthood, that was literally the choice to take away breast cancer screenings, cervical cancer screenings, and access to contraception,” said Fluke at a press conference with Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Rep. Jan Schakowsky.
“Lack of options can put women’s lives at risk,” added Marino. While Marino said she would only consider abortion in the most dire of situations, it is an extenuating circumstance that can arrive at any time and it is difficult to has how she would deal.
Planned Parenthood is a non-profit organization working to improve women’s health and safety, preventing unintended pregnancies, and advance the right and ability of individuals and families to make informed and responsible choices.
Riles Murphy, a senior, and office manager at Ramapo College’s Women’s Center said that it is also a men’s issue. Murphy said, “Anything that limits the voice of one limits another.”
“Planned Parenthood also provides screening for cancer, something that isn’t just for women,” added Murphy.
Planned Parenthood is not only used for the choice of abortion, but also for vast uses in regards to women’s health. Taking away a woman’s choice to her body, is more or less taking away her dignity. As women in a society dominantly controlled by men, women have all the more reason to stand up for what they believe in. This will entail freedom of speech at its finest; the decisions made will ultimately determine the future for women.
“If women want to keep their rights, then it’s important for them to vote or else they will lose all the advances they’ve made for women’s rights,” said Stacy Mandara, 24, from Manahawkin, New Jersey.
With over 90 years of fighting for equality and fairness, the president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund Cecile Richards, another speaker at the DNC notes the importance of the women’s vote this election—“As women, we’ve come way too far turn back.”