National Organization for Women President Says Romney Policies 'Dangerous For Women'

Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, stopped in Sarasota on Monday to talk to voters about women's causes and rights.

As with any election in modern history, women are proving to be key voters.

Terry O'Neill, president of National Organization for Women, or NOW, stopped in Sarasota Monday to talk to women waiting in line for tickets to see Vice President Joe Biden.

The organization is the largest feminist activist association in the country with more than 500,000 members, and has been around since 1966 aiming for equality for women.

Patch caught up with O'Neill during her Sarasota visit. Here's what she had to say:


What brings you to Sarasota?

I'm here in Sarasota to talk to people waiting to get their tickets to see Joe Biden on Wednesday, and talk to them a little bit about how important this election is for women.

The choice could not be clearer. Mitt Romney is fully supporting a man like Richard Murdoch, who said that rape victims who are impregnated by rape must accept rape as a gift from God. And perhaps Mr. Romney and Mr. Murdoch don't know that 32,000 or more pregnancies every year result from rape.

The pregnancy is a re-traumatization, very often, of the rape victim, and the most important thing for a sexual assault survivor is to have complete control over her body. That is the thing that's most taken away from her in a sexual assault.

But you have Mitt Romney who says, no, no, no—continue those pregnancies even if they're caused by rape. He claims he disagrees with Murdoch but he fully supports Mr. Murdoch and he's putting those ads out in Indiana to get Mr. Murdoch elected.

You've got Paul Ryan, Todd Aiken, Richard Murdoch, Mitt Romney—those men's policies are dangerous, dangerous for women. And that's one of the reasons why this election is so important.


What are you hearing from women that you're talking to today?

The one thing I think that's important that I hear from women all the time is they're so angry with the Republicans for emphasizing abortion and birth control when what these women really care about is their jobs.

There is no jobs plan that Romney has put forward that will get women back to work. The president has a plan that would have direct cash payments from the federal government to states and local governments they can rehire the teachers that have been laid off because of austerity measures at the state leve.

Mr. Romney doesn't want that. President Obama does.

So, the women that I talk to are very, very frustrated. They want jobs and all they hear from the Republicans is how rape victims have to carry their pregnancies to term, how women shouldn't be using birth control.

For heaven's sake—99 percent of sexually active women utilize birth control in this country, and that includes 98 percent of sexually active Catholic women. Let's be clear about basic healthcare for women includes birth control.

President Obama has stood strong against withering attacks from extremist for women to have birth control in their basic health packages, and that's the right thing to do.

That's what I hear from women that these issues have become important because of how many Republican men are attacking them, and they're very frustrated that these issues even come up.


How important is Sarasota for the election?

This area of Florida—Sarasota, Tampa, St. Pete—all of that is very, very important. Florida is going to be a close election. We've said from the very beginning that it's going to be an incredibly close election. From my point of view, it's all about turnout at this point.

What I'm seeing is a groundswell of real enthusiasm for turnout, and that's what we're hoping to achieve.

Richard M. Swier October 30, 2012 at 12:12 PM
May I humbly suggest that women who are out of work, growing poorer and forced into codependency on government for food are greater travesties and do more long term harm than any need for birth control pills?
RAJ (Bo) McMerritt October 30, 2012 at 01:53 PM
largest feminist activist association in the country ... talk about calling the kettle black ...what a freakish organization!
Richard M. Swier October 30, 2012 at 01:56 PM
Where is NOW speaking out against Islamic treatment of women both here and abroad? Where is NOW on the issue of child sex-trafficking? Where is NOW on the issue of honor killings, little girls having acid thrown on their faces for the crime of going to school? NOW is NOT NOW.
Karen J October 31, 2012 at 03:07 AM
Victims of rape and incest wouldn't be comforted by that comment. The Romney/Ryan ticket does not support equal pay or equal rights for women. If they are elected women will become poorer with no resources to make a difference. Birth control is an economic issue.
Richard M. Swier October 31, 2012 at 09:40 AM
Karen, I do not understand your comment. NOW, by not speaking out about the devastation this economy has had on women is bad enough. When NOW ignores how women are treated by Islam and its proponents, who routinely marry little girls to older men in the name of Allah, then they have no moral right to speak for women. What makes women and children poor is single parent families. If you want to stop poverty then encourage marriage. Does NOW support marriage? Does NOW support traditional families? Providing birth control has nothing to do with poverty, especially child poverty. “We have made woman a sex creature,” complained a psychiatrist at the Margaret Sanger clinic, according to Betty Friedan’s 1963 book The Feminist Mystique. Sadly NOW was part of making women "sex creatures" and they are paying the price.


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