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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Questions You (Probably) Won’t Hear at the Debate

posted by on October 7 at 14:42 PM

Courtesy of RH Reality Check, which asked “What Would A Women’s Issues Debate Look Like?”

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?

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?

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?

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 years?

(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?

Do you believe that insurance companies should be required to cover contraception?

What is your plan to combat the alarming growth of HIV/AIDS in America, specifically among black women?

Who are some of your female role models? Who are some female role models you’d like your daughters to emulate?

Other questions I’d add to that list:

(For Senator McCain) As governor of Alaska, your running mate cut funding for programs to help low-income, pregnant teenage girls. Given that you’re opposed to abortion, what do you believe the US government should do to make sure the children born because of unplanned pregnancies have a good start in life?

Do you support the Global Gag Rule, which prohibits the US from funding international family-planning groups that perform abortions; provide any kind of abortion-related information or counseling; or lobby to make abortion legal or more widely available? Why or why not?

Only four countries in the world do not provide any kind of paid maternity leave: Liberia, Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, and the United States. Do you feel the US should provide paid family leave for women and men who take time off to care for a new baby or an ill family member? Why or why not?

According to the US Department of Defense, one in three women who join the US military will be sexually assaulted or raped by men in the military. Do you feel the US military has done enough to prosecute sexual violence against women in the armed forces? What other steps, if any, should the military take?

Do you believe US dollars should be spent investigating the causes of women’s diseases, such as breast cancer, rather than simply trying to “find a cure”? What if this means stricter regulations on environmental toxins?

What specific policies would you propose to aid women and children fleeing sexual violence and repression in other countries?

Do you support requiring all girls to be immunized against the viruses that cause cervical cancer? What about boys?

The US Supreme Court upheld a ban on certain late-term abortions despite the fact that it did not provide an exception for the health of a woman. Do you agree with this decision? (Sen. Obama): You’ve said that you don’t think women should have abortions because of mere “mental distress.” Do you support a mental-health exception to late-term abortion bans, and if so, how do you define mental health problems?

President Bush has cut funding for the Violence Against Women Act, which is up for reauthorization in 2010 and which Sen. Obama’s running mate sponsored in the Senate. Since it was originally authorized in 1994, reported cases of domestic violence have increased by 51 percent. Will you support restoring full funding for this act and reauthorizing it in two years, and what other actions will you take to reduce domestic violence and serve and protect domestic violence victims?

Slog readers, any other “women’s issues” questions you’d ask the candidates?

RSS icon Comments


Why do some women obsess on women's issues?

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | October 7, 2008 2:52 PM

Because men are more interested in things like this:

Posted by jean enersen's interest in women's issues | October 7, 2008 2:58 PM

Who is your favorite Sex in the City character?

Posted by Smiley | October 7, 2008 3:00 PM

Speaking as a Canadian, @1, your country sucks for women's rights. What most countries accepted as normal social policy years ago, yours still hasn't accepted. The U.S. is most often a socially backward place.

Posted by Karla | October 7, 2008 3:02 PM

Why do some gays obsess over gay issues? Sheesh. I mean that Dan Savage just won't shut up about gay marriage and gay adoption and blah blah blah.


Posted by Julie in Chicago | October 7, 2008 3:02 PM
Posted by you mighty morphin' power rangers! | October 7, 2008 3:03 PM

None of these are voting issues. Thank you.

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 7, 2008 3:03 PM

I agree with the Canadian.

Posted by Jen | October 7, 2008 3:04 PM

I'd really like to hear McCain answer the one about one in three women in the armed services being sexually assaulted by a fellow soldier. I'd follow up by asking him if he can think of any reason why there aren't any prosecutions of these crimes. Does he believe that soldiers should be allowed to rape other soldiers with impunity?

Posted by Fnarf | October 7, 2008 3:05 PM

As for equal pay issues, some related questions:

Why was my graduating class in the engineering department 95% male? What's driving women away from science, math, and engineering, and what can we do to keep them?

Posted by Greg | October 7, 2008 3:09 PM

What are you going to do about making sure I can put food on the table for my kids. It's the economy, Erica.

Posted by crazycatguy | October 7, 2008 3:13 PM

Great list of questions, Erica. I also agree with the Canadian @4.

Poe, what the hell are you talking about?

Posted by kerri harrop | October 7, 2008 3:14 PM

I want to know why Obama's wife got rid of her career for parenting children.

Posted by ERICA C. BARNETT'S #1 FAN | October 7, 2008 3:15 PM

#10: 95% of your engineering classes were male engineering students.

Even female engineering students find them...difficult to be around.

Posted by Tiktok | October 7, 2008 3:19 PM

"when did you stop beating that cunt of a wife?"

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 7, 2008 3:22 PM

Paid maternity leave should be a given for all women in the USA, as it is in other industrialized nations. I would look further into the question before asserting that only 4 other countries in the world do not provide it. It is one thing to say you do and quite another to do it. For example, do you think they really pay it out in Zimbabwe, Uzbekistan, The Democratic Republic of Congo, and all the rest? It is a shame we are on par with these places in this issue but posing questions that can easily be deflected is not a good way to win a debate.

Posted by inkweary | October 7, 2008 3:25 PM

@10: more women than men graduate with math degrees, and more women than men graduate with science degrees (even if you only include physical/life sciences).

about 80% of engineering majors are men, but i'm sure that has to do with the same social forces that keep men from getting nursing or education degrees.

Posted by jrrrl | October 7, 2008 3:32 PM

@14: Is this about the beer and porn in the computer lab again?

Posted by Greg | October 7, 2008 3:33 PM

I think these are great questions. None of which will ever be asked, but great nonetheless.

How about this (as more sensational version of a question you have):

"Infant mortality rates in the USA are higher than Cuba. What would you do to help improve the infant mortality rate and get it more in line with other industrialized countries?"

Posted by Original Monique | October 7, 2008 3:40 PM

@19: Simple. Stop counting premies, like most other industrialized countries have done.

Posted by Greg | October 7, 2008 4:47 PM

i have no more questions to offer, just a critique. your "women's diseases" question is very odd. i don't understand why that question needs to have a gendered spin on it.

tons of federal (and non-federal) funding already goes towards investigating the causes of (not just cures for) virtually all forms of cancer, including the ladycancers. in fact, breast cancer receives more federal funding than any other form of cancer (almost 2X that of prostate cancer). it's not like women's diseases are being neglected. quite the opposite.

Posted by brandon | October 7, 2008 4:47 PM

Why are Slog Commenters such sexist assholes? What makes them think they can call themselves progressives? What makes their sexism any different than that of McCain, Bush, or any Republican backwards fucker?

@1, 3, 7, 13: a big feminist fuck you.

And Erica: Great post. I think you are awesome.

Posted by Elizabeth | October 7, 2008 5:07 PM

Is it better to be first or last in maternal mortality?

Posted by Chris in Tampa | October 7, 2008 5:14 PM

Considering how long the election process is in the United States, and how much other topics have been covered, I feel that women's issues are indeed voting issues. Yes, there are many other issues that need to be addressed, but taking a moment to address these issues is also quite valid. Besides, I think they offer excellent insight into the candidates values and may help to provide a more clear view of their perspective on other issues.

Posted by prenks | October 7, 2008 5:28 PM

Elizabeth, what makes you think they call themselves progressives? And what makes you think that slog commentators aren't an indicative sample of the prevailing attitudes in the rest of the world let alone washington?

slog isn't a hate free zone like some half baked feminist/GLBT mixer

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 7, 2008 5:40 PM

@22: Seconded. Great questions, Erica, and you're right, none of them WERE asked. There never was a chance.

Posted by Seajay | October 7, 2008 7:56 PM

This sounds like a debate that John Kerry and Michael Dukakis would love to participate in.

Obama would rather WIN.

And you know it.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 7, 2008 10:04 PM

you know if they asked women´s issues questions mccain would be all, "Sarah Palin this, Sarah Palin that".

Posted by ams | October 8, 2008 4:26 AM

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