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McEntee: Obama's win a victory for women — and their rights

Published November 7, 2012 6:38 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Well, women of America, we dodged hard times and trouble Tuesday night. With the re-election of President Barack Obama, we can take a break from worrying about what a Republican administration would have done to our hard-won rights.

Such as, our rights to control our own bodies, to have affordable health care, to get vital health services from Planned Parenthood, to marry the partner of our choosing and even to watch "Sesame Street" with our kids.

Obama understands these things, I'm sure with the help of his grandmother, mother, wife and daughters. His choice of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state has allowed her to become an ardent advocate for women worldwide.

Like many women, I worried that, if elected, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would have yanked federal funding for Planned Parenthood's reproductive and sexual health care services, which serves women and men at all income levels.

Romney advocated cutting federal funding for PBS even though he likes Big Bird. Romney and Ryan also would have pushed to abolish abortion rights; Ryan voted for a federal bill that would have allowed hospitals to deny an abortion even if a pregnancy would cost the woman her life. They also wanted to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, leaving millions of people to their own devices in getting, or not getting, health care.

All this came up in a women's studies class at Salt Lake Community College, where state Sen. Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City, and I had been invited to speak.

When I asked the students what they thought of Obama's victory, Jenny Dabrowski said she was "ecstatic."

She had watched Romney since Salt Lake City's 2002 Winter Olympics and paid close attention to his campaign. When I asked her about the established rights a Romney-Ryan victory could have cost women, she cried, "How can somebody take them away and why? I wasn't going to agree with that at all."

This from a woman who, like the other students, were building their lives through education, experience and hard work. Why, Dabrowski mused, "would anyone try to take away anybody's rights?"

As for gay marriage, eight states and the District of Columbia have approved it. On Tuesday, Maine and Maryland did so by a popular vote.

Washington stands to become the ninth state after backers of gay marriage declared victory Wednesday, saying that despite a slow vote count, the numbers were enough to pass the referendum.

Minnesota voters, meantime, rejected a proposed state constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Romney and Ryan were pitching a deeply conservative plan for the country, and it backfired. Voters, weary of stale ideas and outmoded policies, turned to Obama.

All women who've fought for their rights — and the men who stand with them ­ — should celebrate now and never give up the good fight.

Peg McEntee is a news columnist. Reach her at pegmcentee@sltrib.com, facebook.com/pegmcentee and Twitter, @pegmcentee.