What Would a Women’s Issues Debate Look Like?

Grab your popcorn and get ready
to bang your head against the wall. Debate season is in full swing. We know that
the questions pertaining to domestic women’s issues during these four
televised verbal jousts will be slim to none. We can expect a "litmus
test" Supreme Court nomination question, an equal pay for equal work
question, and if we’re lucky, a sex ed question. But the range, and
depth of the questions, will leave us panting for more. 

Like our colleagues at ThisIsWhatWomenWant.com and Women’s eNews, we at RH Reality Check thought we’d
envision the questions we wished the candidates could face before an
audience of millions. Preferrably, they’d be asked by Rachel Maddow,
Campbell Brown, and Gwen Ifill teaming up in a cross-network collaboration,
while the usual crowd of male pundits sat on the sidelines. But regardless
of who’s asking them, these are the questions we want to see.  

Feel free to add your own ideas
for questions — and how you’d like to see them answered — in the comments

Reproductive Right

  1. The teen birth rate increased in 2007 for the first time in years.
    We currently have the highest teen pregnancy rate of all developed
    nations. To what do you ascribe these trends, and what would you do to
    address the issue of teen pregnancy?
  2. While many people disagree
    on the issue of abortion rights, no one can argue that abortions are
    almost always a result of unplanned pregnancies. What are some steps
    you would take to lower the number of unplanned pregnancies? 
  3. Do you believe that barrier contraception — aka condoms — stops
    the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections? Is this
    information important, and should it be given to teens as part of federally-funded
    sex education? 
  4. Do you believe that scientific
    evidence suggests contraception is
    the same thing as abortion
    How would you respond to groups that want government
    agencies to classify it as such
  5. The United States ranks 41st
    in maternal mortality. How do your health plans address improving health
    outcomes for American mothers given the fact that maternal mortality
    rates in this country have flat-lined in recent
  6. One of the unfortunate side effects of recent immigration-related
    legislation has been to block off basic health care to many women
    living within our borders. What measures would you take as president,
    under your healthcare plan or otherwise, to secure access to
    reproductive health services, for immigrant women, who often face extra hurdles–including discrimination or threat of deportation–in getting the essential care they need?
  7. (For Senator McCain): In the
    past, you have stated that you believe abortion should be legal in the
    cases of incest and rape. Your party platform
    and your running mate

    have stated they don’t believe there should be such an exception.
    What would your position be as president on these exceptions and how
    would you justify it? 
  8. (For Senator Obama): Can you clarify your position on whether a health exception for
    a late-term abortion ban would include a mental health exception, and
    what that would mean? 

Women’s Equality 

  1. While women have made strides
    in the workplace in recent years, their average salary still lingers below men’s. How do you intend to ensure that
    women have equal pay? 
  2. (For Senator McCain): You voted against the
    Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

    and said you believe the key to pay advancement is more education for
    women. With women now graduating college at a higher rate than men, to what do you attribute
    the enduring pay gap? 
  3. Statistics show that women, particularly women
    of color, are hardest hit by poverty. With the economy in a state of
    near-collapse, what would you do to address the issue of poverty and
    help these women — often the sole breadwinners in their families-swim
    against the tide? 
  4. Solving the current health
    care crisis is particularly crucial women, who need regular and fairly
    frequent reproductive care. How would your health care plan enable women
    to live fuller lives without worrying about health care costs? 
  5. Do you believe that insurance
    companies should be required to cover contraception? 
  6. As president, would you seek
    to expand or reduce the scope of the Family and Medical
    Leave Act
    ? Why
    or why not? 
  7. What is your early childhood
    education plan, how would you fund and enact it, and how do you envision
    that plan affecting women’s lives? 
  8. What is your plan to combat
    the alarming growth of HIV/AIDS
    in America
    , specifically
    among black women? 

Cultural Issues 

  1. What is sexism  in your
    mind and what is one instance you’ve noticed on the campaign trail?
    What role can a president play in combating cultural sexism? 
  2. Who are some of your female
    role models? Who are some female role models you’d like your daughters
    to emulate? 

As we head into the debates
full speed ahead, it’s interesting to note that up until now, some
of the toughest grilling of candidates on women’s issues had come
from seemingly unlikely sources. Both the infamous interview with McCain on "The View" and
the interviews with both candidates in the October
issue of Glamour are more informative and hard-hitting than a lot of
what you’ll see on mainstream networks — particularly when it comes
to women’s issues. It will be interesting to see whether the debate
moderators take their cue from these women’s media outlets, and probe
below the surface of issues that matter to American women. 

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  • invalid-0

    Conercering Reproductive Right #5: US infant mortality rates can not be accuratly compared with other nations. One example is that the US attempts more extrodany messures at earlier times in the pregnancy than is common for other countries. As such, lives lost during these efforts are counted against the US infant mortality rate; while not counted against other countries infant mortality rates.

    Concerning Reproductive Right #8: Mental health issues caused by chemical imbalances in the brain due to hormone changes that occur during pregnancy is a very real concern for a segment of the population. Unfortunatly many doctors in the US use mental health as a catch all for late-term abortions on demand. If the government has a legitimat concern in restricting late-term abortions (similar to the current European standards) mental health, by itself, can not be a consideration for allowing late-term abortions. To do so would require evaluation of all mental health judgements made by doctors and possible prison time for doctors who make questionable calls. Such an occurance would cause more problems than it solves.

    • invalid-0

      “Conercering Reproductive Right #5:

      The human mind is a funny thing. #5 refers not to infant mortality rates but, rather, to MATERNAL mortality rates which would be, once again, the despised woman whose life and person the fundies hold in such slight regard.

      Also, were you under the impression that no other country has the technology to care for infants born prematurely? The fact of the matter is that the US has the world’s most expensive health care delivery system which increasingly wide swaths of the population simply cannot afford. Thus the US is falling behind on all health care indices including both infant and maternal mortality rates. Shamefully, after 35 years of republican ideology, a pregnant woman has a considerably better chance of surviving her pregnancy in Cuba.

      Unfortunatly many doctors in the US use mental health as a catch all for late-term abortions on demand.

      That’s ‘pro-life’ propaganda and a lie.

  • invalid-0

    To hell with women’s issues. I want to hear about men’s issues.