With the 2012 elections fast approaching (less than 430 days until we cast our ballots) the perspective presidential field is becoming clearer. With potential nominees like Donald Trump, Tim Pawlenty, and Mike Huckabee having already decided against running, the nomination is wide open. Currently there are 4 or so people who seem to be the “front runners” in the race, and their views on reproductive rights are nothing short of alarming.
Before entering politics in the 1970’s, Paul worked as an OB/GYN. During his time in the medical field, he delivered more than 4,000 babies. He says that this experience has led him to his view that life starts at conception. Paul says that he is “an unshakable foe of abortion” and claims that he has never dealt with a pregnant woman who medically needed an abortion. He was the prime sponsor of HR300, a bill that would overturn Roe v. Wade and put the power to regulate the legality of abortion in the state’s hands. While Paul’s 2012 campaign has received more support than his 2008 campaign, it still seems unlikely that he will be able to secure the nomination.
Michele Bachmann is the only woman being considered for the nomination, yet is one of the most anti-choice. During her congressional campaigns she was endorsed by the Susan B. Anthony List, an organization that promotes women in politics who oppose the right to choose. She also signed the “2012 Pro-life Presidential Leadership Pledge” which states that if elected president she will only nominate “pro-life” appointees to the Supreme Court and certain Cabinet and Executive Branch positions. By signing the pledge she also promises to defund Planned Parenthood and advance anti-abortion legislation, if elected president. At a recent debate she was asked if abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or incest, and in response she told the crowd that she was 100% pro-life.
Before getting involved in national politics, Bachmann and her husband volunteered as “sidewalk counselor” and frequently prayed outside abortion clinics. She has spoken in support of other sidewalk counselors and worked to stop tax dollars going to hospitals that perform abortions. Like Paul, Bachmann’s chances of getting the nomination are unlikely.
After an unsuccessful 2008 run, Mitt Romney is back to try for 2012 and seems to be the most likely nominee. Romney has the experience, political support, and money to orchestrate a successful run– he is also the most moderate, but tends to flip-flop on important issues.
Until 2005 he identified as pro-choice and even made donations with his wife to Planned Parenthood. While Romney stated that he personally opposed abortion, he strongly supported the right to access abortion services. In 2005 though he did a complete flip-flop and vetoed a bill that would expand access to emergency contraception. While not directly affecting abortion access, this signaled a change in his position on the matter. It is still unclear what his specific views on abortion are. He opted not to sign the Pro-Life Leadership Pledge that Michele Bachmann and other candidates signed, so this could be signaling another change in Romney’s personal views. Even so, it seems unlikely that he would be able to gain the support he needs from the Conservative Republican leadership if he came out as pro-choice.
Aside from Romney, Rick Perry is probably the most likely candidate. He has the power and connection to do it, and being Governor of Texas (as George W. Bush was before he was elected) doesn’t hurt either. Perry also happens to be the most outwardly anti-choice of any of the candidates. He too signed the Pro-Life Leadership Pledge, but that was almost unnecessary given the laws he’s been putting in place in Texas. Earlier this year Perry labeled a new abortion regulation law as an “emergency”, pushing it into debate ahead of truly pressing issues like Texas’s unemployment and healthcare problems. Recently key portions of that same law— which would have forced women wanting to have an abortion to see the fetus on a sonogram, listen to a heartbeat, hear a scripted anti-abortion speech read by their doctor, and wait another 24 hours before being allowed to have the procedure done— were struck down by a judge. Perry has also worked to nearly eliminate all family planning funds and keep Texas schools teaching abstinence only education (even though it doesn’t work).
What about President Obama?
While we may not always be happy with how President Obama is representing the pro-choice movement, I think we can all agree that he is better than any of these people. He may not always listen to our ideas, or react the way we would like him to, but there’s no way that any possible Republican nominee would be better. It is important that we not blindly follow him, but it is also important that we look at the competition and realize how much worse it could be; and that is why I will be voting for Barak Obama in the 2012 elections.