Women’s Health Remains a Hot Issue

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The Republican Party has taken a public beating on the issue of women’s health in recent months. In interviews with more than a dozen young people from around the country, Youth Today found that of the seven women, all supported President Barack Obama’s reelection bid, and nearly all mentioned abortion rights or women’s health as one of the reasons why.

“The idea that a woman would have to pay more for insurance just because she might choose to have a child some day is unjustifiable and simply not OK,” said Kate Goertzen, a 25-year-old policy analyst whose family is from Louisiana but who works for a public health nonprofit in Washington, D.C. She volunteers for the Obama campaign, registering voters at D.C. subway entrances, and feels passionately that Obama’s health-care reform bill is a major victory for the president and the public.

“As a young woman, I care about women like me being able to get the preventative and annual health-care services that they need and deserve without jumping through unnecessary and unjustified hoops,” Goertzen said.

Romney and Paul Ryan’s vision for the country is “scary,” Goertzen said. “And running your ticket on the idea that women cannot make their health-care choices for themselves is unforgivable, and makes me question the integrity of the rest of the views espoused in their platform.”

Kelsey Goodman, 22, a Huntsville, Ala., native who interns at a pro-Israel lobbying firm in D.C. and who will enter the Peace Corps early next year, plans to vote for Obama, too, mainly because she trusts him with U.S foreign policy more than Romney. She says a lot of her friends back in her Alabama hometown dislike the health-care reform bill, but she doesn’t understand why.

Many of her friends have refrained from taking risks with their careers or striking out on their own because they were worried about losing their health insurance, she said. Staying on their parents’ health insurance until they turn 26, as the Affordable Care Act allows, will give them the flexibility to explore career options and encourage entrepreneurship, Goodman said.

Nicole Lopez, 19, of Miami, a rising sophomore at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., plans to vote for President Obama by absentee ballot in the battleground state of Florida. Lopez said she comes from a conservative background and attends a very conservative school, but she supports the president for his views on gay marriage and Planned Parenthood.

“I believe that women have the right to their own bodies. I believe women have the right to choose,” Lopez said. “I have my own beliefs, and that doesn’t make me any less Catholic.”

In general, most polls by mid-September showed President Obama with a double-digit lead among women voters.

Kaukab Jhumra Smith is Youth Today’s Washington, D.C. correspondent.