The real problem with writing about Sarah Palin's record on women's issues is that she doesn't really have one. Once you've learned that she's against reproductive choice and was on board with cutting city funds for rape kits, you've really got to stretch to find anything she's done or said on other issues affecting females. Of course, that's sort of it's own problem. I mean, it's not good when a female governor can't be found talking about rape and domestic violence in a state with high levels of both.But, in that absence of a record — and as the Vice President on a ticket headed by John McCain — his stances are now basically her stances, or at least the policies she'll be called upon to defend. And, like her position on abortion, his stances on a range of issues important to women are not exactly progressive. Abortion Rights: On abortion, they're clearly alike (now). McCain used to support an exception in cases of rape, incest or risk to the life of the mother but reversed himself this year. Glamour reports that he didn't support overturning Roe V. Wade in 1999, then he did and that he was kind of a dick when the magazine's editors asked for further clarification. He's definitely all excited about the 2-3 Supreme Court vacancies expected "by the people who decide these things," since that'll give him a chance to appoint justices that will see Roe v. Wade as a "bad decision" the way that he does. Equal Pay For Equal Work: Moving onto pay equity, something else that Sarah Palin's said nary a word on. McCain's said plenty, including that he's "all for pay equity" but not for the Ledbetter bill because it would lead to, you know, women using the courts to enforce said equity. Of course, he's also said that we could solve pay equity by giving women better job training, which sort of pisses Lilly Ledbetter off. Nonetheless, the official position of a McCain-Palin administration would be "no" to any bill that attempted to resolve the issues in the law that allowed the Supreme Court to fuck over Lilly Ledbetter. Women At War: McCain's somewhat more progressive on women in combat, telling Glamour:
I think this policy needs to be reevaluated constantly.... We have more and more evidence of greater abilities of women in combat. Also...this conflict is everywhere; we have had a large number of women wounded and killed in Iraq and in Afghanistan. I'm for integrating women as much as possible—with one exception: For example, in Baghdad today, a male combat infantryman puts on 50 pounds of body armor, then another 40 or 50 pounds of military equipment. I want to make sure that women are able to also do that. Now, I'm not saying women are physically weak. Some of the strongest [people] I have ever known in my life are women.... I just want to make sure that they're able to carry out these missions in the most effective fashion.... Women have proven to [everyone's] satisfaction as pilots, as combat medics, in any other role they've been in, that they're perfectly capable, and in some ways not only capable but superior.
Of course, that's a little bit different than what he said back in 1991, but even old dogs can learn new tricks. Is flip-flopping a doggie trick? Anyway, he'd "reevaluate" constantly, sort of like he already has, but I would say it's iffy whether he and Palin would reverse the women in combat decision; I doubt they'd be spearheading any women-in-combat initiatives — let alone any reversal of don't ask, don't tell, despite its disproportionate effects on feamles. Sex Education: While, as I've previously mentioned, Sarah Palin's record on abstinence-only education is sketchy at best, McCain's positions are more robust. He supports teaching abstinence in schools and is less supportive of birth control education. In fact, he's said that he opposes eliminating the proved-ineffective abstinence-only education programs currently on the books, while leaving wiggle room on giving teenagers some information that there are ways to avoid pregnancy if you ignore the abstinence thing. He did vote against an 2005 family planning bill and, when asked to explain by Glamour first said it was because it have provisions on funding abortion (it didn't) and then clarified that it was because it had provisions relating to Plan B, which doesn't exactly make it better. In the end, when it comes to women's issues, there may not be a ton of information out there on where Sarah Palin stands, but — like every Vice President before her — she's not going to have any choice but to stand by her man... who hardly stands by many of the women in this country on the issues outlined above. McCain thinks women should nonetheless vote for him because he wants to keep taxes low (not that he's actually correct about that) and make sure that when his plan goes through Congress, the (magical) markets will keep prices low. Interestingly, McCain's economic adviser, Carly Fiorina thinks women shouldn't be voting just based on abortion, and that issues likes taxes and health insurance are important to women too — issues on which, as I've just noted, McCain is actually worse on. So tell me again how is McCain's candidacy is supposed to be about the issues? For these reasons and undoubtedly many others, the National Organization for Women Political Action Committee today endorsed Barack Obama and Joe Biden for the Presidency and Vice Presidency — one of the very few times the organization has ever made a general election endorsement. But even NOW's President, Kim Gandy, admitted on NPR that this would be controversial among some of their members despite the significant differences between Obama-Biden and McCain-Palin on the issues supposedly of importance to women. Bethesda, MD psychologist Lynette Long, a lifetime Democrat, probably knows a little about why — she's not voting on the issues, just on the gender that she shares with Sarah Palin. For all Fiorina's (and McCain's, and Palin's) posturing about the elections being about the issues (and about issues other than abortion), the McCain camp wants a lot of women like Long to completely ignore the issues, not choose between them. Palin's Record on Women's Issues Questions [UPI] Palin: Unserious About Sex Crimes and Domestic Violence [Shakesville] Palin On Abortion: I'd Oppose Even If My Own Daughter Was Raped [Huffington Post] McCain Poised to Flip on GOP Abortion Platform [ABC News] Is McCain the Nostradamus of the Supreme Court? [CBS News] McCain Opposes Equal Pay Bill In The Senate [Huffington Post] John McCain [Glamour] Women's Combat Roles Likely To Be On Next President's Agenda [LA Times] McCain: Gay Troops "Intolerable Risk" [Gay.com] John McCain Campaign to Brody File: Eliminating "Abstinence Only" Programs is Wrong [CBN News] Health Insurance And the Single Girl [Glamocracy] Tax Plans And the Single Girl [Glamocracy] National Organization for Women PAC Endorses Obama-Biden [NOW] National Organization For Women Endorses Obama [NPR] In This Election, Putting Gender First [Baltimore Sun]