What Do Presidential Candidates Have To Say About Women's Rights? Take This Quiz To Find Out

Anti-abortion demonstrators protest in front of the US Supreme Court and US Capitol during the 41st annual March of Life in Washington, DC, January 22, 2014. Held around the anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, the march draws thousands from around the country for a rally on the National Mall before marching up Capitol Hill to the US Supreme Court. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Source: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

So far, the ever-growing election field contains 14 candidates: 10 Republicans, four Democrats; two women, 12 men. At least two of them voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. At least one wants to bring paid paternity leave to families. Where do 2016 candidates stand on women's issues like abortion and equal pay? Some of the answers to this handy quiz might surprise you.

First, some context. Taken individually, women's issues like abortion and access to birth control are unlikely to decide the election, though research shows they do in fact matter more now than ever before. (Also, it's highly unlikely that any issue taken individually could decide an election.) In May, Gallup reported that 21 percent of Americans say they will only vote for a candidate who agrees with them on abortion — that's the highest percentage in the 19 years that Gallup has asked Americans this question. Almost half of Americans (46 percent) say abortion is one of the factors they will consider when casting their vote.

Even if a singular issue doesn't decide the election, you can bet the candidates will have to answer for their views on women's issues at some point between now and 2016. Abortion legislation seems to be sweeping the country, state-by-state, and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton has already proven that she's willing to start the debate. Who knows what they'll say when they're put on the spot, but here's a look at what the candidates have said in the past about these issues.

1) "Well, guess what, I'm Cuban! And no self-respecting Cuban man of the era would let his wife work."

Was it:

  • a) Marco Rubio
  • b) Ted Cruz
  • c) Rick Perry
  • d) George Pataki

Answer: b) Ted Cruz

Cruz allegedly made this comment during his days with the Princeton debate team, as a rebuttal to the idea that Ricky Ricardo should have let Lucy work (yes, we're talking about I Love Lucy). While Heidi Cruz does indeed work (she's a managing director at Goldman Sachs), Cruz's record on women's rights remains nonetheless outdated. At the Values Voters Summit in 2014, he implied that birth control pills are "abortion-inducing," which science has clearly disproved. He voted against the Violence Against Women Act in 2013 (along with fellow candidate Marco Rubio). Cruz's campaign website clearly positions him as pro-life and unwaveringly so.

2) "Human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights."

Was it:

  • a) Hillary Clinton
  • b) Martin O'Malley
  • c) Lincoln Chafee
  • d) Carly Fiorina

Answer: a) Hillary Clinton

Hopefully, this one was a freebie for you. It's one of Clinton's most famous zingers — and it's now a T-shirt you can buy from her campaign. She faces tough criticism in important areas like transparency and foreign policy, but women's issues are one area where Clinton is often considered a champion.

3) "She tweets about women's rights in this country and takes money from governments that deny women the most basic human rights."

Was it:

  • a) Marco Rubio
  • b) Rand Paul
  • c) Bernie Sanders
  • d) Carly Fiorina

Answer: d) Carly Fiorina

As the only other woman in the presidential race, Fiorina wants to hit Clinton on her own turf. In this quote, she refers to the questionable donations from foreign governments accepted by the Clinton Foundation. (Here's that transparency-based criticism I mentioned.) Fiorina has pushed back against the Democrats' "war on women" language and she's conservatively pro-life — but that doesn't mean she can't be an advocate for women. As a former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Fiorina has shattered the glass ceiling once already, and says that she understands the challenges women face in the working world.

4) "The issue of life is not a political issue, nor is it a policy issue; it's a definitional issue."

Was it:

  • a) Rand Paul
  • b) Ben Carson
  • c) Marco Rubio
  • d) Martin O'Malley

Answer: c) Marco Rubio

Rubio understands that a woman's right to an abortion is the law. What he doesn't understand is where that right comes from. In 2012, Rubio said that in Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court "literally [created] a constitutional right out of nothing." (Watch his entire legal explanation here.) Is it safe to say the Supremes probably won't be voting for him?

5) "When women succeed, America succeeds."

Was it:

  • a) Martin O'Malley
  • b) Lindsey Graham
  • c) Ben Carson
  • d) Rick Santorum

Answer: a) Martin O'Malley

If elected, O'Malley promises to make maternity leave, paternity leave, equal pay, and affordable childcare among his priorities. As governor of Maryland, O'Malley signed legislation that required companies to provide paid family leave. He also supports federal funding for abortions.

6) "The radical feminists succeeded in undermining the traditional family and convincing women that professional accomplishments are the key to happiness."

Was it:

  • a) Rand Paul
  • b) Rick Santorum
  • c) Mike Huckabee
  • d) Bernie Sanders

Answer: b) Rick Santorum

Santorum's outrageous sound bytes have made many a headline. With this gem, he was trying to make the point that stay-at-home motherhood should be respected just as much as any professional accomplishment, but its harsh wording nonetheless reflected his ultra-conservative views on reproductive rights. In Congress, he has authored legislation to block some abortions.

7) "A woman enjoys intercourse with her man — as she fantasizes being raped by three men simultaneously."

Was it:

  • a) Bernie Sanders
  • b) Mike Huckabee
  • c) Lincoln Chafee
  • d) Rand Paul

Answer: a) Bernie Sanders

Leave it to Bernie Sanders to make things awkward. Sanders wrote this in an essay published in the Vermont Freeman in 1972. Who knows what his point here actually is. On a recent segment of Meet the Press, Sanders said that he was commenting on "something like Fifty Shades of Grey," and he admits that it was "very poorly written." More importantly, who knows if he's actually even thinking about women's rights today. His campaign website lists his priorities as income and wealth inequality; getting big money out of politics; and climate change and the environment — no mention of abortion, equal pay, or access to contraception. He has an impressive pro-choice record, yet his campaign priorities suggest that he has other plans for the White House.

In this crop of candidates, there's pro-life, pro-choice, a shattered glass ceiling, and a lot of work left to be done. For now, let's just hope Sanders has learned a thing or two about women in the last 40 years.

Images: Getty Images (7)

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