Women’s issues and US Elections 2012

                It was with great sadness and somewhat disbelief that I read about this case: A 31-year old Indian woman died in Ireland due to blood-poisoning after repeatedly asking for abortion when she was found to be miscarrying.  There are several things that went wrong in this case. For any woman who wants a baby, going through a painful miscarriage would be devastating for her mind and body. And it is the responsibility of the authorities, family and friends to support her in her most vulnerable moment. To have the medical practitioner deny an abortion repeatedly, because ‘the foetus still has a heartbeat’ and ‘this is a Catholic country’ – is a sacrilege to the Hippocratic oath in which the wellbeing of the patient is paramount.

                You would think this is an isolated incident in one of the Western countries. Not so. Here is this case of a doctor (a female one at that!) in Oklahoma, USA who refused to give a 24-year old rape victim the emergency contraceptive because it went against her religious beliefs. Then there is this case of a prison guard doing something similar with another rape victim again citing religious reasons.

                Now let me narrate this incident that I heard recently from one of our friends. The person in question – an elderly Indian-origin man, was looking for a job preferably in restaurant business as he had past experience in that. So when he found one in the neighbouring town, he arranged for his travel, his accommodation and everything else that one needs in order to settle in a new place. One crucial point that he missed is this: he had experience only in vegetarian cuisine back in India; here in the USA, a large part of the menu is non-vegetarian even in Indian restaurants. Though initially his employers  had told that he would not be required to deal with any non-veg items in the menu, but things changed soon thereafter. So he quit his job…as he believed that he could not do justice to it without compromising on his religious beliefs related to vegetarianism.

                The lesson is evident. If one can not perform the duties entailed in a job, then one has no business continuing in it. More so, if the beliefs (religious or moral or otherwise) endanger someone else’s health and safety.

Obama on twitter after his win

Obama on twitter after his win

                Though the US elections this year were mainly fought on economy, women’s issues remained one of the most divisive ones on the agenda. In fact, women’s issues like contraceptives, equal pay at work, abortion, birth-control were made to be major issues by a series of damaging and controversial statements made by different Republicans themselves. Sample just a few of these:

  • In reply to a question on whether abortion was justified in rape-cases, Todd Akin said – “It seems to be, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, it’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.” 
  • Richard Mourdock: “And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.
  • Rick Santorum : “I believe and I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created, in the sense of rape, but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you…I can’t think of anything more horrible, but nevertheless, we have to make the best out of a bad situation.
  • Roger Rivard: “… And he just said, ‘Remember, Roger, if you go down that road, some girls,’ he said, ‘they rape so easy.’

                Romney’s ‘Binder full of women’ comment did not help either now, did it? In this age of Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, every single gaffe made by a candidate is multiplied manifold; so one can’t be too careful! Women voted decisively for Obama at 55% to Romney’s 44% – a gap of as much as 11%. Men preferred Romney by a margin of 52% to 45% and he lost. One thing is clear – Republicans need to discard policies catering towards the radical right if they want to woo women voters in subsequent elections.

Trivia: This tweet by President Obama, reproduced above, has become the most popular one till date. According to networkworld, it eclipsed the previous records holder Justin Bieber’s tweet within 22 minutues!