#BindersFullofWomen, But What About Their Health?

By now we’ve all had a good LOL over Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women”.  If you missed it somehow, here is the clip, and some memes, facebook groups, and new URLs that popped up last night.

But what warrants a closer look here, is where Governor Romney stands on the treatment of said binders full of women – and how these positions can potentially impact women’s health.

Let’s begin with Equal Pay, as the question that sparked all of this internet wildfire referenced this. Though Romney and his campaign go back and forth on whether he opposed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, his unwillingness to voice support for equal pay for women is concerning.  Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s position is documented, as he voted a resounding NO on the Lilly Ledbetter Act.  Equality aside, why does this matter?  There are countless scholarly publications documenting the strong relationship between income and health and income inequality and health outcomes.  So the poorer you are, the worse your health; and the more income inequality in the society you live in, the worse your health will be.

Then there is the issue of the Affordable Care Act.  The Romney-Ryan ticket has repeatedly promised to repeal Obamacare – you know, that little law that made being a woman no longer a pre-existing condition,  The Affordable Care Act forbids discrimination based on gender (both denials and higher prices), and requires that insurers cover all of women’s essential health needs – including reproductive health care and maternity care.

And of course, there is Planned Parenthood, one of Romney-Ryan’s favorite punching bags. President Obama explained that very clearly last night: Governor Romney says that we should eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood and organizations like it.  There are millions of women all across the country who rely on Planned Parenthood for not just contraceptive care.  They rely on it for mammograms, for cervical cancer screenings.  That’s a pocketbook issue for women and families all across the country.”  The President is of course, referencing the fact that as a primary care clinic (in some communities the only affordable and accessible option), and the fact that 90% of what Planned Parenthood does is primary care, and that 6 out of 10 Planned Parenthood clients use it as their primary source of health care.  Romney wants to defund this vital health care resource for women, and his running mate Paul Ryan, has repeatedly voted to do so.

Then there is the not-actually-controversial-anymore issue of contraception.  Romney, unsurprisingly, has changed his position a number of times on whether all women should have access to contraception – but last night he said yes.  Assuming he stands by last night’s statement, the GOP ticket is split, with Ryan promising that Obama’s contraception rule will be “gone on day 1”. Anyone who uses contraception will tell you, 50% is not  good enough.  President Obama, as you may recall, announced a policy earlier this year that mandates access to contraception for women.

And lastly, (warning, I am about to use the A word) let’s talk about abortion and women’s rights to make choices about their own bodies.  Romney again has changed his position many times (documented here).  Romney’s website states (filed under “values” and not “health care”) that “the right next step is for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade”.   A recent campaign ad says that he supports abortion in cases of rape, incest, or threats to the mother’s life – but his record contradicts this position.  As Governor of Massachusetts, Romney vetoed legislation giving rape survivors access to emergency contraception.  Not sure where that leaves us?  Me either, let’s see what Paul Ryan thinks.  Here too, there is some lack of clarity, but he has a strong anti-choice record, working both in Wisconsin and in the Congress to restrict access.  Oh, and in cases of rape and incest?  Paul Ryan helped defeat a measure in Congress that would have eased restrictions on abortion access for military women who are raped.

Does it really matter that Romney has binders full of women?  Probably not (though this is probably a good time to point out that President Obama puts women in his cabinet, not a binder, and in the Supreme Court – and wants to pay them equally and give them healthcare).  But Romney and Ryan’s positions (contradictions and all) make it clear that they are very dangerous for women’s health.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.