The 2012 Election and Women’s Health

By Alexa Epitropoulos |

Issues such as contraception, abortion and preventative care have received little media attention in comparison to jobs and the economy. For many Flagler College students voting for the first time, the representation of these issues can make a difference.

Alexandra Evans, a senior at Flagler College, is pro-choice. Evans, who says she will vote for President Obama in November, believes the government should not have a say when it comes to women’s health issues.

“They do [get involved] and they shouldn’t,” Evans said. “Unless it’s advocating a woman’s right to choose.”

Some of the biggest differences that President Obama and Governor Romney have pertain to the federal funding Planned Parenthood receives and insurance coverage for contraception.

Governor Romney tends to support pro-life legislation and measures, while President Obama supports a woman’s right to choose. Governor Romney’s vice presidential running mate, Representative Paul Ryan, has advocated Personhood Bills and bills prohibiting taxpayer-funded abortion, according to Project Vote Smart.

President Obama’s major legislative effort, the Affordable Care Act, will require employers to provide insurance coverage for contraception. Governor Romney and Representative Paul Ryan are opposed to this provision on the grounds of religious freedom.

The candidates have also clashed over Planned Parenthood, a federally-funded institution that provides women with a number of health services. President Obama has granted Planned Parenthood funds throughout his first term in office. Governor Romney has promised to cease all federal funding that Planned Parenthood currently receives.

Angela Schreiner, a sophomore at Flagler College, does not support any of the services that Planned Parenthood provides. Schreiner, who is pro-life, says that women’s health issues are vital when making her final decision about a candidate.

“The choice whether to let someone live or to not let someone live should be so important to everyone and it’s extremely important to me,” Schreiner said. “That’s one of the most important things I’m looking out for when choosing a president.”

According to the Planned Parenthood website, the institution provided 324,008 abortions in 2010. Abortion counseling and procedures, however, represent only about three percent of its services. Contraception accounts for about 35 percent of its services, while STD testing and treatment accounts for 34 percent. Planned Parenthood also proveds mammograms for early breast-cancer detection.

Still, the question remains: How much can a presidential election actually change these policies?

Georgiann Weaver, a nurse-practitioner specializing in women’s health, says that the 2012 presidential election will not lead to any drastic changes.

“I don’t really think it’s going to affect anything that’s already in place,” Weaver said. “We have Supreme Court decisions that protect women’s rights and it’s pretty hard to reverse a Supreme Court decision.”

Weaver has been visiting Flagler College once a week for five years to meet with female students. She says some of the largest health concerns include education concerning good health practices and safe sex.

Weaver says Planned Parenthood provides access to birth control and counseling to women who otherwise might not be able to access it at all. She does not think that the presidential election will determine the fate of the 90-year-old institution.
“The president does not make the laws. Congress does,” Weaver said. “One person is not going to take away Planned Parenthood’s funding.”

Any sort of change to insurance coverage for contraception, abortion or funding for providers of preventative care such as Planned Parenthood would, in all likelihood, take several years and much debate.

Attempts to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that struck down many federal and state restrictions on abortion, have proved unsuccessful thus far. Alterations to the precedent, including the restriction of tax-payer funding for abortion, have, however, been upheld.

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