Rick Santorum is out of the race…but what does that mean for American women?

Rick Santorum recently withdrew his bid to be the Republican nominee for president in 2012. Santorum’s campaign made headlines both for being the most recent beneficiary of anyone-but-Romney syndrome, and for his extremely conservative social policies (also for his”google problem”…but we won’t get into that here). Many politically informed feminists are understandably overjoyed at Santorum’s decision to end his campaign- as a Senator and a candidate, Santorum has championed policies that place severe restrictions on women’s rights, especially reproductive rights. He has also been notoriously unfriendly to the LGBTQ community. All in all, the Republican party deserves some credit for rejecting Santorum as its presidential candidate. However, Santorum’s departure from the race should prompt us to think about our alternatives. Though Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul are still clinging to their campaigns, and Rick Santorum failed to even mention him in his concession speech, Mitt Romney finally looks like he’s locked up the Republican nomination. But is this any better news for feminist voters? Some of Romney’s lackluster support among Republicans comes from his reputation as less of a bona fide social conservative than Santorum, for example. As governor of the relatively liberal state of Massachusetts, he appeared somewhat pragmatic and willing to compromise on social issues. However, in more recent years, his positions on issues such as marriage equality and reproductive rights have taken a turn for the conservative, perhaps in an attempt to appeal to his base and eventually secure the Republican nomination for president. Additionally, Romney’s reputation as somewhat more moderate gives him a much better chance than Santorum ever had of defeating President Obama in a general election. Therefore, while Santorum’s withdrawal from the race may seem like excellent news for feminist voters, the battle is hardly over.

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