Women and the US Midterms

4 November 2014

Today’s midterms elections in the US for Congress and state governments take place as President Obama’s poll ratings are down in the low 40s , the political stardust from his 2008 election victory seeming almost a distant memory.

The Republicans are tipped to increase their already entrenched majority in the House of Representatives , and they are on the brink of taking over the Senate as well.

For the Democrats, the grim consequences of these elections are likely to be determined by a low turn out, even when the stakes are high for women.

State legislatures won by the Republicans in previous biennial contests have resorted to voter suppression legislation 

(see American Civil Liberties Union link : https://www.aclu.org/maps/battle-protect-ballot-voter-suppression-measures-passed-2013   )

In addition there have been public expenditure cuts and attacks upon women’s rights such as abortion, family planning , and even, cancer screening services.

MSNBC report :

“Governor Scott Walker and his Republican cronies in the legislature eliminated public funding for low-income and uninsured patients seeking reproductive health care at Planned Parenthood, the largest provider in the state, because some of its clinics offer abortions.

That means about 2,000 low-income residents who need cancer screening, breast exams, birth control, pregnancy test, or testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases may have to travel up to an hour to go to a location in another county.”

Prospect magazine recorded :

 “The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reconsider the Texas law that shut down thirteen clinics in the state, leaving only eight abortion clinics open in a state where 5.4 million women are at reproductive age. ……In Texas, come October 29, nearly one million women in the state will have to travel 300 miles round trip to find a safe, legal abortion. “

In Congress, where just 1 in 5 Senators or Representatives are women,  the Republicans have blocked the passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act on pay equality for women through a filibuster on no fewer than three occasions.

Some states under Republican control have sought to enact a “Personhood” amendment to the constitution that would ban abortion and many forms of contraception and of fertility treatment.

Unsurprisingly, the Democrats are the preferred party of political choice amongst women, and demographic trends are proving unfavourable to the Republicans .

But however good long term prospects may appear, today’s elections could result in the Republicans advancing their “War on Women” across more states .

  


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