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Women's Issues Barely Surface at 2012 Vice Presidential Debate

By October 12, 2012

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2012 Vice Presidential Debate

Going into last night's vice presidential debate I was optimistic that women's issues would come up at least once during the 90 minute Q&A moderated by Martha Raddatz of ABC News. Well, here I am wiping egg off my face. Judging from the questions Raddatz asked, if both Joe Biden and Paul Ryan had not been Catholic not one women-centric topic would have been raised.

Why are the moderators ignoring women's issues? This isn't an idle question. In an election year that's frequently been characterized as one in which a "Republican war on women" is being waged, it's a no brainer that the subjects that have made headlines -- abortion, contraception, insurance coverage of women's basic health care and equal pay -- are ones we'd like to hear the candidates address. Instead of relying on sound bites on the campaign trail, don't women (and interested men of whom there are plenty) deserve a direct answer posed thoughtfully and deliberately?

Raddatz brought up abortion in the context of what she described as a "historic debate" involving two Catholic vice presidential candidates. All fine and good, but is that what it takes to ask a question of tremendous import to women's lives? Did Raddatz avoid any other mention of women's issues during the domestic issues segments because she didn't want to be seen as a female journalist asking "female" questions?

The discussion that ensued when Raddatz asked about abortion and their faith prompted the most straightforward responses either candidate gave all night. Neither walked back on previous statements except for Ryan's seemingly broader acceptance of abortion in the case of rape or incest.

If you missed the debate, click on the link below for the women's issues-related points that were covered. No declaration of winners or losers -- just the candidates' statements and some basic fact checking. I didn't (and won't) give my opinion of who won and who lost, but your opinions are welcome below.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Related article: Women's Issues in the 2012 Vice Presidential Debate

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