Women are Watching the Republican presidential candidates

This month, we’ve witnessed an extreme swing to the right regarding women’s health as the Iowa caucus neared, with four Republican presidential candidates signing Personhood pledges–in essence, vowing to declare a zygote a person, and making in vitro fertilization, IUDs and some forms of birth control potentially punishable as murder.

Now that Gov. Mitt Romney and Sen. Rick Santorum have moved to the front of the pack, it’s time to take a look at their stances on abortion, women’s health, birth control and other rights.


Though Romney used to be pro-choice, he is now saying he is pushing for federal abortion restrictions and has said that he believes life begins at conception.

Santorum is as far right as one can be on abortion, vowing to make it illegal even in cases of rape, incest or the health of the mother. However, he does seem to have shifted a little after the Iowa caucus, saying that he may not support abortion in the case of rape or incest but he will not overturn it.

Birth control:

Romney believes birth control should be funded by the federal government, and does not find this stance inconsistent with his opinions of abortion because he says “it prevents conception”. This has led to a slamming by Rachel Maddow, who got out a fallopian tube diagram to explain how birth control works.

Santorum says that states should be allowed to outlaw birth control. ‘Nuf said.

Health Care Reform:

Though health care reform offers numerous benefits for women, including birth control without co-pays and a clause to prevent discrimination if one has a pre-existing condition, Romney says he will repeal it entirely. He claimed repealing the Affordable Care Act would save the country $95 billion, which the non-partisan fact checker Politifact found completely inaccurate, saying that repealing the ACA actually dives us further into debt.

Santorum said that Great Britain’s universal health care caused the end of the British Empire. We wish we were making this up.

Gay Rights:

Romney says he favors LGBT rights such as protecting people from discrimination in the workforce, but he does not support gay marriage. However, it seems that supporting non-discrimination and then supporting discriminating laws such as the Defense of Marriage Act make him quite contradictory.

Santorum claims gay relationships destabilize society, and as ThinkProgress quotes, has often compared same-sex relationships to inanimate objects like trees, basketballs, and bears. Along with allowing states to outlaw birth control, he would allow states to outlaw anal sex as well. And finally, he disagrees with Obama’s decision–and the military’s support of–ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Also, just take a look at the issues on each of their websites. Jobs, health care and foreign policy are the only issue links on Romney’s, with no mention of women’s rights at all. Santorum does have a section called “Faith and Family” where the anti-choice legislation he has sponsored such as the “Unborn Victims of Violence Act,” which sets a dangerous precedent giving a fetus separate, legal status.