Obama, Abortion, and the Pay Gap

I believe pay equality is a very important issue; it’s something I’ve written about frequently. And I’m all for broadening the boundaries of what are considered key “women’s issues,” from family-medical leave, to universal health care and early childhood education, to a human rights-driven foreign policy. But you have to admit there’s something intriguing about the Obama campaign’s decision to play the pay gap issue as hard as they have, even as Obama made ill-informed comments about “mental distress” and late-term abortion last week while speaking to an anti-choice Christian magazine.

John McCain wants to overturn Roe and voted against the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Obama is choosing to attack him loudly on Ledbetter, but not on Supreme Court appointments. Furthermore, by focusing on Ledbetter, Obama is associating himself with legislation that was near and dear to Hillary Clinton‘s heart, and that she mentioned from the stump far more frequently than Obama did during the primaries.

It’s fantastic that Obama is talking about pay equality and the disproportionate way in which poverty and inequality affect women. And if elected, he’ll make Supreme Court appointments that will limit the further erosion of abortion rights at the federal level. But Obama is just not using his progressive reproductive justice platform as a talking point, which does raise questions about how he will prioritize those issues if elected.

Update: At Politico, Avi Zenilman makes a good point about this: “In his outreach to Clinton donors and supporters, Obama continuously points to equal pay — he doesn’t push abortion, which many suspected he would do to convince disaffected Clintonites that they should vote for him.”

cross-posted at TAPPED

2 thoughts on “Obama, Abortion, and the Pay Gap

  1. chris

    I’ve read in numerous places, most recently in The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, that the salaries of men and women with similar positions are within 5% when adjusted for the time involved in giving birth and the subsequent raising of children. Granted, that 5% is certainly worth fighting for — worth passing the bill for — but given that the majority of the difference in lifetime earnings is often accounted for by the mother’s career sacrifice over the father’s, how much would government intervention in the issue really matter?

    Regardless, Obama appears to be brandishing his support of the LFPA solely as a means of courting Clinton supporters.

  2. linda

    I don’t think he has to court Clinton supporters. And I do believe he means to fight aggressively for something he truly believes in. However, the priority of the issue, relative to others, will likely not fall highest. He may be adamant about many of the issues he advocates, but he still sees such large numbers of bills and acts and the like, how can anyone prioritize?


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