Wrangling reproductive rights

Being a college student means making a lot of decisions on your own. An unexpected pregnancy can leave a college woman with a far more difficult decision to make.

Abortion is one of the leading issues in the 2016 presidential election. According to a Gallup Poll conducted before the 2012 election, one in six Americans are single-issue voters when it comes to abortion. A candidate’s stance on abortion can be one of the most important stances to take.

While ultimately United States’ federal law permits abortion, the next President of the United States could influence the conditions under which they are performed. Each state can make additional requirements of varying degrees concerning age, health, and term requirements.

Many students are concerned about the issue of reproductive rights and health, especially considering 53 percent of voters in the 2012 election were women, according to exit polls.

At the University of San Diego, women make up 56 percent of students.

Jillian Tullis, a communication studies professor, commented on the weight that reproductive rights carry as an election issue.

“I think [abortion is] an interesting issue that gets people charged,” Tullis said. “It hits people at their core.”

Each candidate has his or her own stance on topics such as abortion and birth control, which can sway voters’ preferences for one candidate or another.

Hillary Clinton is pro-choice and follows the arguably strong precedent set by the Democratic Party’s political platform. Clinton shared on her website that she is committed to fighting for women’s reproductive rights both in the workplace and at home.

“Women’s personal health decisions should be made by a woman, her family, and her faith, with the counsel of her doctor,” Clinton’s website said.

According to her website, Clinton also supports the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. Clinton said she considers the historic Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade to be the foundation of women’s reproductive rights.

“Roe v. Wade is the touchstone of our reproductive freedom, the embodiment of our most fundamental rights, and no one—no judge, no governor, no Senator, no President—has the right to take it away,” her website said.

At the 2009 United Nations Population Fund conference Clinton explained that she strongly believes that women’s reproductive health should not be dependent on government oversight and approval.

“Government has no place in the personal decision a woman makes about whether to bring a child into the world,” Clinton said.

Jill Stein is the female third-party candidate from the Green Party and aligns with most of Clinton’s policies on reproductive health.

One aspect of Stein’s support for female reproductive rights includes the dissemination of information on reproductive health care and family planning programs. The Green Party candidate shared that she believes that in making information available, women will be better informed and that abortion may decline with stronger planning. Stein also has expressed support of accessible clinics, options for contraception, and consultation for and performance of abortions, regardless of age or marital status.

“A woman’s right to choose is a non-negotiable human right,” Stein said.

The two male candidates, Gary Johnson and Donald Trump, differ from one another on the issue of abortion.

Johnson, the Libertarian candidate in the race, made it clear on his website that there is a difference between his personal opinion on abortion and his political standpoint on the issue.

“Gary Johnson has the utmost respect for the deeply-held convictions of those on both sides of the abortion issue,” the website said. “It is an intensely personal question, and one that government is ill-equipped to answer.”

Personally, Johnson shared that he believes in the sanctity of life, but politically, he said he recognizes that the right to choose is necessary within women’s political rights.

“That right [to choose] must be respected and, despite his personal aversion to abortion, [Johnson] believes that such a very personal and individual decision is best left to women and families, not the government,” Johnson’s platform stated.

Despite his political support for the right to choose, Johnson does not support partial birth or late-term abortions. As the governor of New Mexico, Johnson approved legislation banning these procedures in the state. For minors receiving abortions, Johnson has supported laws requiring parental notification and counseling for the woman.

The marked difference between Johnson and his female adversaries is his lack of official platform concerning women’s health and reproductive rights outside of abortion. Issues, such as contraception availability and the morning after pill, are not outlined in his official platform.

In contrast to the other three candidates, Trump has taken a strong stance against abortion rights. Trump avoids any firm stances on women’s reproductive rights.  

Included in his platform are measures to rewrite the tax code to allow working parents to deduct childcare expenses from their income taxes, implement a child care rebate for low-income households, and incentivize employers to provide childcare in the workplace. Trump also has advocated for six weeks of paid leave for new mothers.

In a 1999 interview with NBC, Trump emphasized being pro-choice despite hating the concept of abortion. When interviewed early in his candidacy in 2015, Trump started asserting that he was pro-life with exceptions of rape, incest, and a threat to the life of the mother.

In the last debate, Trump said he would appoint pro-life judges to the Supreme Court who would give the decision on abortion back to the states, reversing the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion case. The 1973 Supreme Court decision is what ultimately legalized abortion nationwide at a time when most states outlawed it.

The Republican candidate has also called for the government to defund Planned Parenthood. In an opinion article published in the Washington Examiner, Trump decried the possibility of public funding for abortion.

“Public funding of abortion providers is an insult to people of conscience at the least and an affront to good governance at best,” Trump said.

Voters face the choice between four candidates with various stances on abortion and women’s reproductive health. In this heated election season, reproductive rights, abortion, and women’s health are a few of the many hot topic issues faced by voters and politicians. As college students flock to the polls on Nov. 8, they will hold sway over the election of a candidate that could change the course of reproductive rights in America.


Written by Scott Develle, Talia Malley, Rachel McGrath, and Dakotah Quayle, with contributions from Kelly Kennedy, Feature Editor

Candidate photos courtesy of Keith Kissel/Flickr, Tar Sands Blockade/Flickr, Gage Skidmore/Flickr (left to right)

Candidate photos courtesy of Keith Kissel/Flickr, Tar Sands Blockade/Flickr, Gage Skidmore/Flickr (left to right)