Women feared for their ovaries in the recent presidential election between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. The election became a mud-slinging contest over several issues, including many women’s and human rights questions.
Another important, though perhaps less publicized, race in this election pitted New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, a Democrat, against — Joe Kyrillos, the republican contender. The women’s issues torn apart in the presidential election were equally relevant to the senatorial race for NJ District 13. Menendez, a Saint Peter’s alum, was victorious in the race largely because political experts say of the benefits he and his party promised to women.
“It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t . . . thank all the women who are working to re-elect Senator Menendez,” said Joan Quigley, a representative from Menendez’s office.
“There are so many, of all ages, staff and volunteers, who know he is our best chance to continue protecting and preserving our hard-earned rights.”
Before the election, Quigley visited Saint Peter’s University to participate in FOCUS’s “Don’t Vote Without Protection” event. The Female Organization for Campus Unity and Solidarity gave students the opportunity to learn about women’s issues in recent the election.
Dr. Marilyn Cohen, head of the Women’s Studies department and advisor to FOCUS, thought the event would be particularly important at a Catholic university.
“As a feminist, I am passionately pro-choice and feel passionately about many of these issues,” said Dr. Cohen. “I think that it’s fair to say this is a Catholic institution, there are probably a wide range of views on birth control and abortion and I can accept that and that is why I was so grateful and pleased that Father Rocco was so open-minded. I can’t tell you how much I respect that because that is what Jesuits are about, academic freedom.”
According to Quigley, Senator Menendez has always been in favor of women’s contraceptives as compared to Kyrillos.
“[Senator Kyrillos] has consistently voted in Trenton to limit the rights of abortion, to limit access to contraception, and has repeatedly failed to vote yes on funding for women’s health programs.”
Senator Menendez’s re-election to the New Jersey Senate, as well as Romney’s defeat in the presidential race, holds significant consequences for women both in our area and nationwide. Quigley was quick to point out the benefits reaped with a Democrat in the White House and in the majority of the Senate.
“We’re on the right side of the issues. We are protective of women, we are protective of poor people. We don’t believe ‘I’ve got mine, you get your own’ and I’m afraid that’s what the republicans believe. The republicans want to go back to the way things were during the Bush years, under the Reagan years and if we’re going to go back, I’m not going back any farther than the Clinton years when we had a surplus and the country was booming. So I think we are making progress. You can’t vote for today, you have to vote for tomorrow with the knowledge of yesterday.”
“We try to make the point that what we want is total equality,” she added. “Women shouldn’t be left behind but neither should they be pushed in front of the guys.”
Dr. Cohen wanted to impart a useful piece of advice to all female students and nationwide.
“The issues for women are really significant and [women] must inform themselves fully about the platforms regarding reproductive rights, gay marriage and equal opportunity.
All three photos, below, taken by Yarleen Hernandez, News Editor.