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2012 Presidential Debate Recap: Mitt Romney "Wins", Women Lose


Often sidelined as shorthand for reproductive rights, so-called "women's issues" were nowhere in evidence at the first debate of the 2012 election – the only one slated to cover domestic issues. But the full list of issues that affect women in profound ways runs through every tributary of American life. Women, after all, make up, half of the electorate. 

So, naturally, there was bound to be plenty of discussion of issues that directly affect them at Wednesday's debate between President Barack Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney, right? 


Writing in the Nation, Bryce Covert laments:  "Given all the unfettered candidate talking points and potpourri of disconnected issues, you’d think someone would have uttered the word 'women.' But, alas, it went unsaid. In an election cycle where women’s hearts and votes are being fiercely battled over while our rights and needs are getting hammered by Republican vote after Republican vote, you’d think we might come up once. Nope." 

Why was this? It's not as if there has been any shortage of hot button and highly polarizing headlines in recent months. The Republican platform alone should have made the issues that women care about most a focus of the debate, if not the entire election. From proposed personhood amendments to Rep Todd Akin's profoundly tone-deaf remarks on rape to Rush Limbaugh's slut-shaming of Sandra Fluke, there has been plenty of fodder for each candidate to draw sharp distinctions against his opponent. 

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For the record, the president supports access to abortion. The Affordable Health Care Act he engineered requires contraceptives to be available for free for women enrolled in workplace health plans.

Romney, for his part, favors limits on abortion, though he famously has previously supported access to it. A Romney presidency would likely seek to overturn Roe v. Wade, allowing individual states to move to ban abortion. Romney has also said that funding for Planned Parenthood is among the cuts he wants to make in the federal budget. 

You wouldn't know any of this if you had tuned in to the debate, though.