Battle for women's votes: 6 flash points

The uproar over the Obama campaign’s 'Life of Julia' Web infographic – which made #Julia big on Twitter – highlights just how fiercely both parties are fighting for the women’s vote. The economy is by far the most important issue in November for both sexes. But there are other areas with special significance to women. Here are the main flash points:

David Goldman/AP
Aly Bancroft (c.) of Atlanta, joins hundreds of people around the Georgia Capitol protesting against two pieces of legislation they say are unfair to women on March 12, in Atlanta. The rally comes after the Senate passed measures banning abortion coverage under state employees' health care plans and exempting religious health care providers from having to cover birth control.

1. Health care

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), signed into law by President Obama in 2010, means as many as 13 million women will have health-care coverage who otherwise wouldn’t, according to the White House. The law also contains benefits specifically aimed at women: As of February 2012, insurers must cover preventive services such as mammograms, prenatal care, and certain cancer screenings with no co-pays. Beginning in August, insurers must also cover well-woman visits, domestic-violence screening, and breast-feeding supplies at no extra cost. Contraceptive services also fall into this category, though religious institutions are exempt.

By 2014, health insurers will be barred from charging women more than men for coverage and from denying coverage to women with preexisting conditions such as breast cancer and pregnancy.

If the US Supreme Court rules by the end of June that some or all of the ACA is unconstitutional, then the Obama campaign could have an instant rallying cry for women.

Mitt Romney says on his first day as president, he would issue an executive order that paves the way for “Obamacare” waivers to all 50 states (if the Supreme Court doesn’t overturn the law). He would then work with Congress to repeal the law as quickly as possible.

Mr. Romney says his emphasis is to encourage state-driven solutions. That’s where his time as Massachusetts governor comes in. He implemented a health-care reform that served as the model for Mr. Obama’s, and he still defends it, when asked. But he doesn’t bring it up voluntarily. Democrats like to point out that the first person to enroll in “Romneycare” was a woman, Madelyn Rhenisch.

As a presidential candidate, Romney doesn’t make a specific pitch to women on health care. In a column in USA Today in March, Romney argued for state-driven solutions and measures aimed at “spurring competition, creating maximum flexibility, and enhancing consumer choice.” Such measures include allowing individuals to purchase insurance across state lines, as well as changes to the tax code that level the financial playing field for people buying insurance on their own. The column doesn’t mention women, but the implicit message is that everyone benefits – men, women, and children.

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