The female vote could decide this election

Womens Rights

Republican congressmen, Todd Akin’s comments on ‘legitimate rape’ and anti-abortion stance has caused a stir amongst American women.

Felicity Adkins

Republicans promoting ‘legitimate rapes’ have sent both Democratic and Republican women into a fury.

When Republican Congressman Todd Akin stated, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down,” he not only breached a sensitive topic, but also shifted the spotlight onto himself for all the wrong reasons. This comment comes alongside Indiana Republican senate candidate, Richard Mourdock’s claim that pregnancies from rape are “something that God intended to happen.”

Hollywood action

In response to these Republican beliefs, several women in Hollywood have taken action in order to support Obama with regards to his stance on abortion. Actress Sophia Bush (One Tree Hill) told US online magazine, toofab.com, “I’m pissed off that he [Romney] thinks my uterus is any of his business.”

She went on to say: “Give me a break, it’s not the 1950s, Mr. Romney. And if you’d like it to be, the women of America are going to have some opinions to share with you.”

And she was right. On October 15, actresses Eva Longoria, Scarlett Johansson and Kerry Washington featured in a new advert that criticised Romney’s position on women’s health issues and the redefining of rape.

Female interests

Abortion and rape are not the only topics American women are concerned with, however.

When I asked Samantha Connell, a 24-year-old medical student from New Hampshire, who she was going to be voting for, she instantly replied with the single word, “Obama.”

Connell has lived in the swing-state for the past nineteen years and has been following the election closely, particularly at the medical issues being raised. “If Romney is elected, healthcare will change dramatically. All of the progress such as caps on how much insurance companies can make will be undone. And, as a woman, I would lose birth control coverage through my insurance which is completely insane, as all the research shows proper sex education and birth control helps reduce the rates of pre-marital sex and STIs,” she says.

Connell has a point, as President Obama wants to end healthcare discrimination against women, lowering the amount to pay to equal men. Currently women pay a total of $1bn (£621m) more in annual healthcare costs compared to men, according to the National Women’s Law Centre; 92% of the top insurance plans charge women more.

But through ObamaCare, insurance plans are beginning to help women with the coverage of birth control, something Romney would repeal, costing women hundreds of dollars every year.

However, this is not to say that Romney has no female support at all. Jenna Jameson, a former adult film star, told a reporter that she was looking forward to a Republican being back in office.

“When you’re rich, you want a Republican in office,” she said.

Pay equality

Although the issues of tax cuts affects both sexes, another issue with Romney’s campaign is his lack of discretion when it comes to discussing equal pay. President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act 2009 to help women fight back against pay discrimination. Ledbetter, who is a Republican, worked in a tyre factory for 17 years as a supervisor before discovering she was being paid a lot less than men for doing the same job.

During the foreign and domestic policy debate at Hofstra University, both candidates were asked about fair pay and equality with regards to wages. Romney refused to say whether or not he would have signed the Act into law and did not answer the question.

Patricia Bueno, an undecided independent voter currently living in Boston, Massachusetts, believes that a large deciding factor for her vote would be to see equal pay for women and men in every industry. Although Bueno is from a predominantly Democratic state, she will not make her mind up on whom she is voting for until the last minute.

In the 2008 US election, 10 million more women voted than men, making that not only a substantial figure, but arguably also a deciding figure.