In an election rife with discussion of abortion, birth control, rape, and equal pay, it's hard to believe that Maggie Hassan is the only pro-choice woman running for governor, in the battleground state of New Hampshire. Thankfully, Hassan has been vocal about her views on women's rights. She caught up with us yesterday by phone to chat about the war on women, New Hampshire's lady-friendly history, and what women's health has to do with the economy.
Soooo, what did you think of Richard Mourdock's rape comments during Tuesday night's debate?
His comments reflect why it is so important for women to be trusted to make their own decisions about health care. Women have to deal with very difficult, very challenging situations like the one he referenced, and it really is no place for government interference. And it's no place for politicians to be. I've been focusing on this campaign, on making sure we respect and trust women to make their own decisions, that we make sure that women's access to affordable health care is equal to that of men. And we need to recognize that respecting women's liberties and freedoms is important for their ability to fully included in our economy.
Yes! One of my pet peeves is that economic issues and so-called "women's issues" are all too often viewed as separate topics. How do you see them as related—and why do you think people separate them so much?
There are folks who don't want to support a woman's right to choose, so they try to separate those things out. But we need to remember that affordability of women's health care, their ability to access it on equal terms—all of that goes to their ability to plan their own futures, to decide when they're going to have a family, a career, to make pocketbook decisions based on what their health care will cost. We have some people running for office who don;t seem to understand that.
I was just at a forum at the University of New Hampshire today. One of the students said that he and his wife moved to New Hampshire so that he could go to a particular program at this law school. His wife was able to work as the sole breadwinner for their family while he went to school. He pointed out that it was their access to affordable birth control and health care that made it possible to put their energy right now into his law studies, so that they'd be able to have a better economic future.
You're the only pro-choice woman running for governor. Do you think it's important to be a role model for other women?
It's important for whoever is governor to be somebody with a breadth of experience in life, in business, and in service. And that experience includes me being a woman and having raised a family, and worked in a career—as a business lawyer—that didn't always welcome women. That led me to be the person I am and the leader I am. I think it's very important for both women and men to see women working in a variety of capacities.
Why do you think the pickins are so slim this year for progressive female gubernatorial candidates?
I'm not sure, but I'm grateful that New Hampshire has a history of electing women to the state legislature. We had one of the first elected women governors, Jeanne Shaheen, who's now the first woman to serve as governor and in the Senate. So hopefully that tradition will continue.