Even though Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” comment is old news, the questions that it raises remain vital: Would a Romney administration promote or marginalize women? Would women benefit or be penalized by Romney’s policies regarding access to health care, reproductive choice and equal pay, among others? As governor of Massachusetts, Romney established a clear record regarding his treatment of women. Let’s check it out.
1. Romney’s judicial appointments consisted primarily of white men.
According to an article in the Boston Herald, “While claiming he wants more minorities and women on the bench, Romney has stacked his new Judicial Nominating Commission [JNC] mainly with white males. There are only four minorities — three of them women — among the new slate of 17 JNC members, Romney spokeswoman Julie Teer confirmed. The other 13 are white men. She declined comment when asked whether a more diverse panel was needed.” In a follow-up story, the Herald continued, “Despite his claim that his hand-picked advisers gave him too few qualified women for judicial slots, Gov. Mitt Romney has passed over numerous female applicants even after they cleared a tough screening process.”
The Associated Press reported that two years into his term as governor, “Romney found himself under fire for not nominating enough women and minorities to the bench. Of the 19 nominations made by Romney by early 2005, 17 were men and only two were women.” At the end of his term, he had appointed only 18 women out of a total of 65 judges.
2. Romney vetoed a bill that would require hospitals to give emergency contraception to rape victims.
The Huffington Post confirms that “As governor of Massachusetts in 2005, Romney took a harder line on contraception, vetoing a widely-supported bill that would make the morning-after pill available over the counter in that state and require hospitals to offer emergency contraception to rape victims. His surprising veto did not stand. The Massachusetts state Senate voted unanimously to overrule it, and the state House voted 139-16 to do the same.”
3. On several occasions, Romney vetoed funds for breast and cervical cancer detection, treatment and prevention.
In 2004, Romney vetoed funds for early breast cancer detection and research. In the same year, Romney vetoed funds for cervical and breast cancer treatment. According to the Lowell Sun, “Romney vetoed the entire $2.8 million earmark for cervical and breast cancer treatment [and] cut $6.6 million, a little more than half, from a program to counsel first-time mothers under 21.”
Throughout his term, Romney continued to veto or reduce various funding appropriations for early breast cancer detection. He also targeted funding for various preventative programs, from breast cancer and AIDS research to teen pregnancy, despite being cautioned against such measures by his own Lt. Governor, Kerry Healey.
In 2008, Romney admitted that he was “not familiar” with the Violence Against Women Act. In the second presidential debate, he refused to say whether he would have voted for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a bill that his running mate Paul Ryan voted against. He has continually asserted that a Romney administration would move to eliminate all funds for Planned Parenthood, an organization that millions of women rely upon for basic health care.
It’s easy to snicker at Romney’s inept “binders full of women” remark, with its creepy Hugh Hefner-esque resonance. However, the very fact that his closest advisors couldn’t come up with names of qualified women for Romney’s Massachusetts administration and had to ask local women’s groups for those binders of resumes should give women everywhere pause. And Romney’s record with regard to women, which no “change of heart” can erase, well, it scares the estrogen out of me.