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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Confessions of a Hillary Convert

Here's an excellent piece on women's issues from Georgiana Popa, a student at the University of Michigan.


In the upcoming election, Hillary Clinton has become the self-appointed champion of women. She is our fierce leader and biggest supporter. When it comes to women’s issues, few other candidates have ventured to speak up because they feel that they cannot compete with Clinton; Barack Obama is just starting to court the women’s vote by way of Oprah. As a result, few women—especially diehard feminists—have even considered voting for another candidate. I have to admit that before I learned about Bill Richardson’s stance on female issues, I had fallen into the same trap. I thought that there was no greater champion of women’s rights than Hillary Clinton, and this was one of the reasons why I intended to vote for her. However, after researching Richardson’s platform on women’s issues, I’m not so sure anymore.

The truth is that Bill Richardson is the only candidate who has promised to support only Supreme Court Justices who will uphold Roe v Wade. As a pro-choice female, this promise is very important to me. As we’ve seen from the last couple of years under George Bush, the right to choose is standing on very thin ice. There isn’t much that separates us from the age of underground abortion clinics and the haunting image of coat hangers. Now, more than ever, we need a president who will make sure that this right is not taken away from us.

More important, however, is Richardson’s stance on paid family leave. While in Congress, Richardson supported the Family and Medical Leave Act. Under this act:

“ Covered employers must grant an eligible employee up to a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for one or more of the following reasons: for the birth and care of the newborn child of the employee; for placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care; to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; or to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.”

This is great, but only for those who can afford to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave. But what about those who cannot afford to lose next week’s paycheck, let alone 12 weeks’ worth.

If elected, Richardson pledges to fight for paid family leave. This is one of his most noble campaign promises, and one that should concern women the most. Paid family leave is the rule, not the exception, in most civilized countries. In most European countries, mothers receive paid maternity leave for at least a year, if not longer. In the US, most working mothers are forced to leave their young children in daycares, because they cannot afford to stay home and take care of them. This contributes to the ever-growing rift within families, which has sadly become emblematic of US family life. Instituting paid family leave could be the first step in repairing a larger, social problem.

These are only two of Richardson’s campaign promises that concern—or should concern—women. And while Clinton and Obama support paid family leave, only Richardson has his support on the most important record—the Congressional one. And he alone has explicitly said that he'll support pro-choice judges. He is a bold candidate with bold ambitions; the exact type of president that this country needs.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great article!