WIUM Tristates Public Radio

The Impact of Women's Issues on the Election

Oct 31, 2012

Credit Rich Egger

This week, Janna Deitz of Western Illinois University’s Political Science Department and Dr Aimee Shouse, Chairperson of the WIU Department of Women’s Studies, talk about the role of women’s issues in this fall’s elections.

Shouse believes hot button issues such as abortion rights, reproductive rights, and access to contraception are receiving more attention in the presidential contest than in years past. Controversial comments by US Senate candidates Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana helped bring the issues to the forefront.

“There were a lot of issues when (Akin) talked about if something is a ‘legitimate rape,’ then a woman’s body has a way of shutting down conception. That is just factually in error,” Shouse said.

“There have been quite a few other comments made that for men and women raised this issue of to what extent do our politicians know and understand women’s physiology?”

Shouse said some of the comments raise serious concerns about those who are making decisions regarding reproductive rights. For example, Congressman Joe Walsh (R-IL) said technology can prevent pregnancies from jeopardizing a woman’s life.

Citing statistics from the CDC, Shouse said that is absolutely false.

“For about every 100,000 live births we have in this country now, we still have about 15 women die from that. That works out to be about 1,300 deaths a year that are due to pregnancy.”

Deitz believes the economy also played a role in gaining attention for women’s issues.

“Women really are among the most economically vulnerable demographics in the electorate,” Deitz said.

Deitz also said women matter in the election because around 10 million more women than men voted in the last presidential election. In addition, women tend to make up their minds later in the campaign so you might see more ads in the coming days that feature women or try to court women voters.