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Obama's pitch to women misses important issues, Alvare says
Helen Alvare, a law professor at George Mason University.
Helen Alvare, a law professor at George Mason University.
By Michelle Bauman
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.- A law professor at George Mason University believes that in the upcoming election women will focus on more than abortion and contraception, and will consider issues that pertain to the family, the economy and the condition of the American culture when they vote.

Women's concerns are varied and include issues of "justice at home and justice in the workplace," said Helen M. Alvaré, who also serves as a consultant to the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Laity.

Alvaré told CNA on Aug. 29 that her experience has shown her women have broad interests and are not solely concerned with reproductive issues.

In seeking the women's vote, President Barack Obama is "staking almost his entire message to women on abortion and free contraception," she observed.

"The pitch he's making is so narrow," Alvaré remarked, noting that Obama’s approach is also surprising because polls indicate women are generally slightly more pro-life than men are.

The president's decision to focus on abortion has the additional effect of drawing extreme followers and attracting criticism that he might not otherwise have to face, the law professor observed.

Highlighting abortion draws attention to Obama's own extreme record, she said, including his vote as an Illinois senator to permit the infanticide of children who survived an abortion and his failure to condemn late-term and sex-selective abortions.

In February, Alvaré helped initiate an open letter to the Obama administration on behalf of women who wanted to speak for themselves about the controversial HHS mandate that requires employers to offer health insurance covering contraception, sterilization and early abortion-inducing drugs.

The mandate has drawn strong criticism for forcing religious organizations and individuals to violate their sincerely held beliefs.

In the letter, Alvaré said that the Obama administration should not assume that all women support the mandate.

Within weeks, the letter was signed by thousands of women of different political and religious backgrounds, including lawyers, teachers, doctors, mothers, business owners and community volunteers.

Alvaré said that the letter has turned into an ongoing "conversation" with 33,000 women expressing their concerns and discussing their experiences with the various issues facing them.

Based on her many discussions with these women, Alvaré said that there are other issues at home and in the workplace that are on women's minds.

One important issue facing modern women is the need to "balance" a job and family, she explained.

Women do not earn Social Security for their work in the home, she observed, and there are no strong governmental efforts to encourage companies to help women achieve the balance they are seeking.

Another important issue for women is "economic security for families," Alvaré said. High unemployment rates for both men and women can have a negative impact on families, and this is a serious concern for many Americans.

Furthermore, Alvaré added, "women are really concerned about the toxic culture."

She pointed to negative influences in the media, a push against abstinence education and the close relationship between the federal government and Planned Parenthood.

"I hear a ton about that," she said.

By limiting his scope on women's issues to abortion and contraception, President Obama is sending the message that "all women need is the right to have uncommitted sex and the right to not have babies," she said.

But not all women agree with this point of view, she observed, and many find it problematic.

Tags: Contraception mandate, Obama Administration, 2012 election

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