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HICKS: Economic issues, not abortion, worry women most

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ANALYSIS/OPINION:

If it weren't so obvious, it might be ironic.

On Monday, a USA Today/Gallup poll among likely voters in the top 12 battleground states revealed a startling demographic shift: Women are moving toward Republican Mitt Romney, thanks in large measure to the candidates' respective performances in the first presidential debate earlier this month in Denver.

Also on Monday, in an incredibly coincidental editorial, The New York Times warned of a stark Romney-Ryan future in which abortion rights would be eliminated in more than half the states, and women's health would be jeopardized due to the Republicans' promised defunding of Planned Parenthood.

The ardent leftists at the Gray Lady must be afraid their candidate is in serious trouble. What other reason could there be for raising a red flag on an issue that is not driving the election?

To be sure, abortion remains one of the most divisive issues in our nation -- one many describe as the most important civil rights issue in America since slavery. As a nation, we are nearly evenly divided about its acceptability, with support for abortion slipping in recent years, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Yet according to Gallup, only about 17 percent of voters decide on candidates for office based solely on whether they agree with the person's position on abortion rights.

In fact, according to poll after poll, abortion will not be the deciding factor for the majority of voters, including the majority of women voters. (Among virtual non-issues: the availability of free contraception. Go figure.)

For months it has been clear that women will vote in November for the candidate they believe will best offer solutions to resolve the economic realities women face around their own kitchen tables.

It's women who make the vast majority of consumer decisions in our society. With apologies to the exceptional men reading this column, it is women who buy the groceries, fill the gas tanks in their minivans, clothe their kids for school, shop for holiday and birthday gifts, decorate their homes, and put cash in the pockets of their college students when sending them back to school after a long weekend.

It's women who most assuredly know that the recent drop in unemployment numbers must be a ruse, since unemployed adults younger than 34 are living at home with their parents in record numbers.

Young women know it's the economy, and not a lack of commitment from their boyfriends, that stands between them and weddings, families and homes of their own.

Not even ardent feminists — with the help of the editorial staff of The New York Times — can project enough manic fear about abortion rights to manipulate women voters in this watershed election.

As The Times' editorial notes, legislatures across the country have worked since the 1972 Roe v. Wade decision to restrict the supposed right to abortion conferred by the U.S. Supreme Court. (By the way, the court conferred a right to privacy, not to abortion. Sadly, millions of human beings have not lived to see this was a distinction without a difference.)

The reason states have done this — and the reason, as The Times also supposes -- that potentially 30 states could ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned, is because the people in those states didn't want abortion in the first place.

All of which is conjecture, nonetheless. A president doesn't overturn court decisions; he merely appoints justices when the opportunity arises, the behavior of whom is hardly guaranteed.

The days of manipulating women with threats of "back-room abortions" and sexual repression on the part of evil Christian men are, quite simply, over.

Most women vote the same way men do: To safeguard and protect their families, and in the hope that they and their children will be free to pursue happiness, just as our Constitution says is their right.

Marybeth Hicks is the author of "Don't Let the Kids Drink the Kool-Aid: Confronting the Left's Assault on Our Families, Faith and Freedom." Find her on the Web at marybethhicks.com.

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