Sunday, November 29 , 2015, 2:49 am | Overcast 50º

Susan Estrich: Will the Election Come Down to Waitress Moms and Abortion?

By Susan Estrich |

As everyone tries to figure out an exceedingly close election, the focus on women — unmarried women in some stories, blue-collar women in others, unmarried blue-collar women maybe — intensifies. Could they play the decisive role? Especially if they live in Ohio.

Back in 2006, I was writing my book The Case for Hillary Clinton, and I needed to offer a scenario as to how she could win the 2008 election. Hillary and her people were reluctant to talk to me, even though we were friends. They didn’t want even the appearance that they were focusing on anything other than her reelection as U.S. senator from New York. Fair enough. But who could possibly help me with this? Who had the political acumen, the experience, the encyclopedic knowledge of presidential elections to chart her course to 270 for me?

You know who.

The answer was Ohio. More specifically, women in Ohio. All Hillary had to do was win the states John Kerry had won and then do about two points better among women in Ohio, and she would win the election.

So here we are, back to women in Ohio: women who voted for Barack Obama but are disappointed at the hard economic times, women who don’t want to see the clock turned back for women, women with real power.

How do you get to them? By focusing on education and health care and Lilly Ledbetter and jobs plans and the like. Certainly that’s what Obama’s been doing. And, as Mitt Romney put it in his now almost forgotten 47 percent speech (what did happen to that?), by focusing not on convincing them that they were wrong to vote for Obama in the first place, but on the fact that they are right to be disappointed with him now and on not giving him four more years.

You also get to them by pulling this election back to the fundamental issue of who controls their bodies. Abortion has rarely decided elections. Except for a very small percentage of voters at either extreme (most of whom would vote for the candidate closer to their extreme even without the abortion issue), most people vote the economy, not social issues.

But when abortion becomes an issue of integrity, and when the margin is as close as it is right now, everything matters.

Last week’s big news is from Indiana, where Republican Richard E. Mourdock distinguished himself from his two opponents in the Indiana Senate race (both of whom oppose abortion except in cases of rape and incest) by saying, “I’ve struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

Mourdock, a Tea Party favorite who defeated the more moderate (but still conservative and very respected) Richard Lugar in an ugly Republican primary, is locked in a tight race. Just the day before, Mourdock’s campaign released an ad in which none other than Romney looks right into the camera and endorses Mourdock. While Romney’s campaign says it disagrees with Mourdock on abortion for rape victims, it is not asking that the ad be pulled.

Disagrees? Hello?

If you have not seen it, you must watch the video of Romney’s 1994 debate with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., on the topic of abortion. Romney was challenging Kennedy for the Senate. Some people called him “Multiple Choice Mitt” when it came to abortion, but he staunchly fought that label. He was pro-choice — since 1970 no less, since before Roe v. Wade.

“I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years, that we should sustain and support it. And I sustain and support that law and the right of a woman to make that choice.” That was Mitt Romney.

But there is more:

This is also Mitt Romney: “Many, many years ago, I had a dear, close family relative that was very close to me who passed away from an illegal abortion. It is since that time that my mother and my family have been committed to the belief that we can believe as we want, but we will not force our beliefs on others on that matter. And you will not see me wavering on that.”

Except in endorsing a man who believes that God somehow intended for a rape victim to give birth. Running on a platform that prohibits abortion even in cases of rape and incest. Sending teenage girls back to the back alleys where a “dear, close family relative” died from an illegal abortion. What will a man do or say to get elected to the Massachusetts Senate, or to get elected president of the United States?

— Bestselling author Susan Estrich is the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the USC Law Center and was campaign manager for 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis. Click here to contact her.

comments powered by Disqus

» on 10.28.12 @ 10:19 PM

Unmarried women are not the best poster child for women’s issues. Or even men’s issues.  One needs to value their reproductive vulnerabilities far more than an easy fix after the fact, or a flawed wing and a prayer ahead of time.

Getting the message out single-parenthood is the fastest way to poverty and an unbroken cycle for both solo parent and child is the one critical theme when discussing today’s “womens” issues.

Please ladies and men, guard and honor your reproductive vulnerabilities before they compromise for your life and your child’s life.

The vast majority of solo parent-hood pregnancies are not the result of rape, violence or domestic abuse. They are willingly walked into by women who say yes; instead of no.

We tried the sex, drugs and rock and roll value system for the past few decades. Time to return to responsibility for personal choices instead of making other people to pay for our “freedom”. This is not working. Not working for you. Not working for your child, and not working for me.

Single parenthood is the fastest way to lifetime poverty. Don’t do it.

» on 10.29.12 @ 01:01 AM

Sister Sigh, not every woman is a nun, like you. Ms. Estrich was talking about a woman’s right to prevent “solo parenthood” as you describe it.

We tried suggesting abstinence, we tried prohibiting abortions. Forcing women to be solo parents did not work. You should relax, nobody is asking you to pay for anything, God forbid. Just don’t dictate.

» on 10.29.12 @ 01:39 PM

The funny thing about abstinence is that it has a 100% success rate; it works every time it’s tried. Ramjet has the ole 60’s hippy attitude, if it feels good do it. Gee, so you use your sex organs like a drug, then drug your body to eliminate the result or worse a coat hanger.

What Sy said was try being responsible for a change. Accept that you can’t always do what ever you want. Accept that some behaviors have consequence and be responsible for those consequences.

Right now the biggest issue facing all women is not contraception, it’s the economy. You have a president willfully driving our currency into the ground, fuel prices skyrocketing as a result and will lead to radical inflation and an ideology that prefers this no matter how much it enslaves the poor or single women mothers.

Obama is not looking out for women he is actively enslaving them as he is the poor and minorities. The whole war on women idea conjured up by the DNC is apropos; the problem is it is the democrats waging it.

» on 10.29.12 @ 03:50 PM

Well, Bishop we all know that abstinence isn’t always a choice. Some girls have horny fathers, uncles, or brothers, and their choice to be abstinent is disregarded. Others are just too hard for your run-of-the-mill pervert to resist. But as we (in the Church) all now know, thanks to the GOP, those cases may be part of God’s Plan.

And Sister Sigh, every little sperm and every little egg are precious. Correct? So why can’t we spare $45 a year to help teach them? You are such a conundrum within a conundrum, my dear.

» on 10.30.12 @ 04:12 PM

Ya, that’s right we have a multi billion dollar abortion and contraceptive business because of rape. What load of crap. We have that business because people want to have sex for pleasure and its intended biological purpose is considered a nuisance. Nice try Ramjet.

» on 10.30.12 @ 08:58 PM

Isn’t the question “does any government have the right to take away an individual’s control of his/her own body?”. This has nothing to do with single, married, poor or wealthy. It is a government mandating about a personal choice of a woman. Government stay out of it!

» on 10.31.12 @ 04:06 PM

The Bishop has sex
for only one reason
to make little bishops
when the nun is in season

» on 11.01.12 @ 03:02 PM

Jolly, do what ever you want to your body, it’s yours. But don’t sit there and tell me that a fetus is a lump of tissue to discard because you want to fornicate and use your sex organs for pleasure rather than what nature intended them for.

Ramjet, for God’s sake man you have embarrassed your self enough. You are not a poet, you cannot write poetry and your continuous attempt to satisfy your own narcissism has gone beyond ludicrous. I know you thought you were on to something with Dan, but really dude, it ain’t there.

» on 11.07.12 @ 03:32 PM

The Bishop was a tissue lump
before he was a fetus
and now, full-blown
he is the grump
whose wind will sure defeat us

And the Bishop was a Spam, you know
before the Spam and Eggs
and as a Spam
he lost his tail
and grew two arms and legs!

Before the Spam, he was a Quark
or maybe just a Boson
it goes to show
as we all know
they should have kept their clothes on!

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