In an interview with KWQC-TV6 today, Ann Romney refused to comment on the issues stemming from the ongoing War on Women, declining to address whether she believes women should have access to contraception through their employer-based insurance plans. Such questions are irrelevant, Romney said, because this election is not going to be about birth control:
KWQC TV6: Do you believe that employer-provided health insurance should be required to cover birth control?
ANN ROMNEY: Again, you’re asking me questions that are not about what this election is going to be about. This election is going to be about the economy and jobs.
KWQC TV6: Well, a Pew research poll shows those issues are very important to women, ranking them either “important” or “very important. [...]
ANN ROMNEY: Listen, I’ve been across this country, I’ve been for a year-and-a-half on the campaign trail. I’ve spoken with thousands of women and they are telling me, they’re telling me a couple of things, one they say they’re praying for me which is really wonderful, and then they’re saying, ‘please help, please help. We are so worried about our jobs.’ So really if you want to try to pull me off of the other messages it’s not going to work because I know because I’ve been out there. [...]
I’m going to talk to you about the economy and about job creation and about how my husband is the right person for the right time. This is going to be an election that is very important for women, and we are going to make sure that their economic prosperity is more certain under a President Romney.
Despite Romney’s attempt to pivot to the economy, her claim that birth control is “off message” ignores the real economic situation of women across America. In fact, access to reproductive health services is inextricably linked to the economic issues that countless women face. For example, the Obamacare provision that requires employer-based coverage for contraception — which Ann Romney sidestepped after the interviewer brought it up twice — attempts to address the fact that one in three American women report having struggled to afford birth control at some point in their lives. And when women risk pregnancy without reliable access to contraception, they strain their own finances with the expensive addition of a dependent, as well as incur millions in taxpayer costs for medical care.