Don’t Get Sidetracked by the Phony War on Women

There is a real battle, but it has nothing to do with abortion.

The War on Women. What is that? Sounds like some terrorists wielding rattling sabers at all womankind. A little frightening, right? Well, the phrase “War on Women” is, I’m assuming, the assumption that the Republicans will reverse all strides made in women’s health, repressing their right to make choices concerning their health and their bodies—the dark ages revisited when women will have to go to back alleys to get an abortion. What is this catch phrase designed to convey? I suppose a perceived moral divide from the other party or to pander to the uninformed voter.

Yes, the uninformed voter. We live in a world of itty-bitty sound bites, 30-second commercials, and an education system that has all but abandoned civics as a social science so maybe people can be forgiven for forgetting that we have three separate branches of government. No president can be elected, sit down in the big chair in the Oval Office and overturn Roe vs. Wade (well, maybe by executive order, but that’s another discussion altogether). That’s Congress’s job, and it will never happen.

But let’s say that somehow it did. States would enact their own abortion laws. (New York and California already have laws allowing abortion.) The issue of Catholic hospitals performing abortions would disappear. There are simply too many Americans opposed to federally funded abortion to not send the whole issue back to the states. Birth control? Birth control is covered now by private insurance, given out freely in most schools and colleges (New York City now offers birth control and the morning after pill, known as Plan B, in all public high schools without parental notification), and is by no reasonable person’s definition a medical condition that qualifies or is entitled to federal subsidy. These two singular issues are not about availability but about who pays.

Women are saying that this is a singular, albeit misunderstood, issue for them, this War on Women. Many say that, absent this fear-mongering perception, they would reframe their decision in November. Why? Because what women are really concerned about, the issue that they understand all too well, is the economy. While women may be finding jobs at a disproportionately greater rate than men, the job market is still dismal. Many of us are stay-at-home moms who manage our own microcosms in good times and bad and know what a tough job it is. Have a husband out of work, and it’s impossible. Women, working and stay-at-home, are often the business managers of their families. We juggle overhead, expenses, savings, emergencies and bill collectors. We figure out how to get the kids braces and trombones and lunch while still paying the mortgage or the rent and the utilities. We keep an eye on that two-week vacation and budget as best we can, collecting Groupons, coupons, cash-back and points earned. As the Clinton campaign said, “It’s the economy, stupid.” And women get that. We know that the spiraling, out-of-control debt will be a burden to our children and our grandchildren. No mother wants to feel that it’s a certainty that her children will be worse off than she is, or that her children will struggle just to pay their taxes.

Women are the family glue, the nurturers and the fixers of this world. Let’s fix what’s really broken and not get sidetracked by what’s not.