Women’s Rights and the Politics of Health: Contraception, Health Reform, and the 2012 Election

Sue Tolleson-Rinehart

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill


APSA 2012 Annual Meeting Paper

What are the very surprising politics of, not just abortion, but birth control, in health reform? Abortion is the perennial women's health Rubicon, but birth control, access to contraception, has been settled for decades, even to the extent of being considered a fundamental right, and the stimulus of Justice Douglas's construction of the right to privacy. And yet the politics of health reform and women's rights in the 2012 election has come to include a surprising juxtaposition of attempts to redefine rape, restrict abortion, and posit contraception as a threat to religious liberty. Will this dispute mobilize a measurable number of voters, and if so, in which direction will the preponderance of mobilization lie? President Obama is the current beneficiary of a substantial gender gap, but whether women voters, and young, single women voters in particular, will turn out as they did in 2008 is the question. Will threats to their access to contraception mobilize them more than social conservative voters will be mobilized by the growing boldness of the pro-life movement? This paper just asks the question: it does not yet offer an answer.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 11

Keywords: feminism, contraception, reproductive health, Affordable Care Act, mobilization

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Date posted: July 15, 2012 ; Last revised: September 6, 2012

Suggested Citation

Tolleson-Rinehart, Sue, Women’s Rights and the Politics of Health: Contraception, Health Reform, and the 2012 Election (2012). APSA 2012 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2107356

Contact Information

Sue Tolleson-Rinehart (Contact Author)
University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill ( email )
CB #3265
Chapel Hill, NC NC 27599
United States
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