Why is Carly Fiorina Lying About Barbara Boxer’s Position on Choice?


This article is cross-posted from MsRepresentation, a project of the Women’s Campaign Forum for which I am a guest author.

It’s no secret that a number of women running for office in the 2010 elections are anti-choice.

There are the Palin acolytes, such as Christine O’Donnell, Nikki Haley, and Sharron Angle—the latter of whom thinks abortion should effectively be banned for any reason, including in cases of rape and incest.

And then there are the more mainstream candidates, like Carly Fiorina, challenging longtime women’s rights advocate Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Fiorina obviously has many accomplishments to tout, including the fact that she was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Hewlett-Packard Company (HP) from 1999 to 2005 and worked in leadership positions at Lucent and AT&T.

She is, however, anti-choice.

Fiorina’s website says the following:

Carly believes that life begins at conception; she is pro-life. She earned an “A” rating from the National Right to Life Committee and has been backed by the Committee’s California affiliate, the California Pro-Life Council. Carly has also earned the endorsement of the Susan B. Anthony List, a national pro-life political action committee.

I don’t know if Fiorina is politicking or actually means what she says.  It’s difficult for me to understand how a woman at her level of professional achievement could, at this stage of her life, believe in laws that would effectively make most forms of contraception illegal.

Shall I take this to mean she has never used contraception herself?

By stating that you believe “life begins at conception” as a political position—not a personal belief—and touting your cred with NRLC and SBAL means just that. These are groups that hold the most extreme positions on contraception and other issues, such as abortion in cases of rape, incest, and life of the mother; on whether a woman who is pregnant and facing life-threatening conditions such as cancer has the right to chemotherapy, and on and on.

Today, for example, extreme anti-choice forces in Colorado are attempting round 2 of the so-called “personhood” amendment (Amendment 62) about which I have written extensively elsewhere.  If passed, this law would confer full human rights on fertilized eggs, before a pregnancy is even established.  The rights of this fertilized egg would then trump the rights of the woman.  The consequences are truly out of Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale.

Fiorina’s curious political position on choice is one thing.  It is yet another that she is lying about Barbara Boxer’s position.

She is quoted—and praised—by LifeSite News (a virulently anti-woman, anti-choice site) as saying:

Well, I personally am pro-life,” Fiorina said Monday on CNN’s Situation Room. “And I know that not all women agree with me. But it is Barbara Boxer who is extreme in her views here. She supports partial-birth abortion. She says that babies don’t have rights until they leave hospitals.”

Barbara Boxer supports Roe v. Wade. Roe confers rights on fetus at viability, which obviously is reached well before a baby is born, much less “leaving the hospital.”  Fiorina is in effect claiming that Boxer supports infanticide. That is what her remark boils down to.

Moreover, there is no such thing as “partial-birth abortion,” though we have a law against it; it’s not a medical procedure. It is a political construct created to limit access to late abortions, which make up less than one percent of all abortions in the United States, and the vast majority of which are carried out either because the woman’s life is in imminent danger or, more likely, because a very wanted pregnancy has turned tragic.

These comments are a deeply disturbing misrepresentation by Fiorina, someone who I would have thought had enough smarts to try to win an election on its merits, not on lies.

We like to look to women to change politics for the better.  Fiorina’s gross misrepresentation of Barbara Boxer’s position on choice reveals that this is not always the case.

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  • jivinj

    Jodi,

    Wouldn’t it be more honest to describe why Fiorina makes that charge against Boxer?  As opposed to acting like Fiorina’s just creating it out of thin air.

     

    During a Senate debate Boxer did say,  “I think when you bring your baby home, when your baby is born … the baby belongs to your family and has all the rights.”

     

    http://www.newsweek.com/2010/07/31/barbara-boxer-in-context.html

     

    Also, you’re wrong about Roe v. Wade.  Nothing in Roe confers rights on the fetus at viability.  Roe allows states to restrict abortion in the third trimester as long as the abortion isn’t necessary to preserve her life or health.  And since health is defined so broadly by Doe v. Bolton it can mean anything an abortionist will agree to. 

  • jodi-jacobson

    When a baby is born and is a born person, it has full rights. I also agree that the conditions laid out in Roe present a fair and equitable balance of the rights of a living breathing woman with, variously, a fertilized egg/zygote, blastocyst, embryo and fetus. 

    To suggest that Barbara Boxer supports infanticide is not only a lie, but also a common tactic of the extremist anti-choice forces.

    If Fiorina is not smart enough to know Boxer’s actual positions and not strong enough to campaign on them, then she doesn’t deserve a senate seat.

    As for Roe:

    In… Roe v. Wade, the Court declared that a woman has a constitutionally protected right, in consultation with her physician, to terminate a pregnancy free of state interference or intrusion, at least in the early stages of pregnancy (defined loosely as the first trimester of gestation). In the second trimester—or more specifically, prior to the viability of the fetus—the Court ruled that states could impose only those regulations that were reasonably related to the protection of the woman’s health.

    The Court acknowledged that after fetal viability, the state has acquired a “compelling” interest in “potential life” and could prohibit abortion altogether “except when it is necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.” Viability was set as the “compelling” point “because the fetus then presumably has the capacity for meaningful life outside the mother’s womb. State regulation protective of fetal life after viability thus has both logical and biological justifications.”

    The Court noted that “if an individual practitioner abuses the privilege of exercising proper medical judgment, the usual remedies, judicial and intra-professional, are available.”

    The Court pointedly observed that while it was reasonable and convenient in 1973 to refer to the point of viability as occurring at the beginning of the third trimester, potential medical advances made the timing of viability subject to change. Thus, in every instance, the determination of viability had to be made on a case-by-case basis by the attending physician. [EMPHASIS ADDED].

    I realize that anti-choicers such as yourself like not only to impose your religion and ideology, but to play both G-d and medical doctor in determining with no information what health conditions are permitted under which a woman may need an abortion at various stages of gestation.  I realize that to you women are mere breeding cows and that no threat to their life or health is sufficient cause for you to value saving them.  Thankfully, right now the law does not give you the right to intervene in personal medical decisions.

  • jivinj

    Jodi,

    Why don’t you respond to Boxer’s own statements from the past which she said, “I think when you bring your baby home, when your baby is born … the baby belongs to your family and has all the rights.”

     

    How is Fiorina lying if she’s merely reciting what Boxer said?

     

    You’re bolding the wrong part of Roe’s description – you should have bolded this part which clearly indicates that Roe didn’t “confers rights on fetus at viability:  “”the state has acquired a “compelling” interest in “potential life” and could prohibit abortion altogether “except when it is necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.”"  So as I said – “Roe allows states to restrict abortion in the third trimester as long as the abortion isn’t necessary to preserve her life or health.” 

     

    Roe obviously doesn’t confer any rights on a viable unborn child.  Do you still stand by this statement?

     

     

    “I realize that to you women are mere breeding cows.” Hello strawman.

     

    What a class act you are.  Unable to admit your mistakes, you’re left with creating positions for the person who pointed out your obvious mistakes. 

  • prochoiceferret

    Why don’t you respond to Boxer’s own statements from the past which she said, “I think when you bring your baby home, when your baby is born … the baby belongs to your family and has all the rights.”

     

    How is Fiorina lying if she’s merely reciting what Boxer said?

     

    Because your Boxer quote doesn’t translate into “babies don’t have rights until they leave hospitals,” any more than me saying “you have rights inside your home” translates to “the police are free to kill you if you go outside.”

     

    Of course, what more can one expect from a poster who sees word-semantics as more important than policy positions that could end up banning hormone-based contraceptives?

  • waterjoe

    How does what Fiorina said mean that she supports banning contraception?  Contraception, by definition, occurs before conception.  Contraception does not equal abortion.

    Trying to tie what she said with the personhood initiative in Colorado does not work.  There is nothing to indicate that Fiorina supports that approach.  In fact, the organizations that are quoted as supporting Fiorina do not support the “personhood” initiative.

    Regarding her charge against Boxer, whether or not it is a medical procedure, Boxer did support the procedure described in the partial-birth legislation. Furthermore, as any honest and knowledgeable lawyer would tell you, Roe and Doe support the proposition that abortions can occur up to the point of delivery.  If Boxer supports Roe/Doe, that is what she supports. Pointing that out is not deceitful.

  • jodi-jacobson

    Contraception does not equal abortion.

     

    However, anti-choice forces have increasingly sought to redefine contraception, and also pregnancy, as “beginning at conception.” and we all know that some  contraceptives act to prevent a pregnancy from occuring.

    Fiorina’s website says:

    Carly believes that life begins at conception; she is pro-life. She earned an “A” rating from the National Right to Life Committee and has been backed by the Committee’s California affiliate, the California Pro-Life Council. Carly has also earned the endorsement of the Susan B. Anthony List, a national pro-life political action committee.

    California Pro-Life Council states:

    The California ProLife Council is an organization of diverse and caring people united to protect the precious gift of innocent human life from conception to natural death. Abortion is any induced procedure performed with the sole and willful intent to cause the death of the unborn child. Therefore, CPLC is opposed to abortion in any form.

    National Right to Life objects to contraceptive use (and many other things).

    We all know that “protecting human life from conception” is code for getting rid of contraception.

    If that is Fiorina’s position, and if she not only states that on her website but proudly touts her 100 percent ratings from these groups, then I say she is making plain her position.

    Anti-choice groups want to redefine medicine, ethics, and law to suit their narrow anti-woman ideological agenda.  Politicians that adopt these positions either believe them or are pandering.  They have to be known for who they are.

     

    But thanks for asking.

  • panhandler

    Barbara Boxer did, and probably still does, support partial birth-abortion. That’s not a lie. That’s the truth.

  • prochoiceferret

    Furthermore, as any honest and knowledgeable lawyer would tell you, Roe and Doe support the proposition that abortions can occur up to the point of delivery.

     

    The honest and knowledgeable lawyer would also point out that this would be the case only if the state does not impose any any additional restrictions after viability. And that if the state does not, then you’d have the same situation as exists in all of Canada.

     

    The honest and knowledgeable medical doctor would add that having an abortion at “the point of delivery” is ridiculous, if you can even find someone who will do it. The closest you can get is a C-section delivery.

     

    If Boxer supports Roe/Doe, that is what she supports. Pointing that out is not deceitful.

     

    True, if you have a working logic facility. In which case, it’s just nonsensical.

  • jodi-jacobson

    supported the rights of women to make decisions about late abortions in pregnancies that threatened their health or lives and/or in which the fetus was diagnosed with abnormalities incompatible with life.

     

    The anti-choice community, led I might add by groups like NRLC, made up the term “partial birth abortion,” sensationalized and lied about the conditions under which late abortions occur, and used that as a political ploy to pass legislation that ultimately threatens the lives and health of women and in many cases ensures that couples facing tragic pregnancies will be made to suffer further to satisfy the whims of folks like you.

     

    Boxer opposed the legislation.  That is widely known.  Opposing legislation that undermines women’s rights and human dignity by putting blanket bans on medical procedures–in this case using vague and broad and inaccurage language to do this–is not the same as supporting any specific medical procedure.

    Barbara Boxer supports the rights of women to make choices for themselves in conjunction when relevant with their husbands/partners/family/medical doctors.

    I am not sure why it is that anti-choicers can not understand this distinction, but I get it that using your rhetoric is  a way to stoke anger among people who don’t know the details.

     

  • prochoiceferret

    Barbara Boxer did, and probably still does, support partial birth-abortion. That’s not a lie. That’s the truth.

     

    No, it’s a lie, actually. And the truth is that “partial-birth abortion” is not an actual medical procedure, any more than “darkie” is an actual race.

     

    Feel free to amuse us by attempting to dig up evidence that Sen. Boxer did and probably still does support such a non-medical procedure, however. It should play out like a low-rent Colbert Report segment.

  • waterjoe

    where National Right to Life “objects to contraceptive use.” Not post-conception pre-pregnancy procedures – I think we all agree that that is an area will there will be disagreement, but procedures preventing conception.  I am pretty sure that National Right to Life does not take any position on true contraception.  If it did, why would it be supported by so many Protestants and even Catholics that use contraception?

    You seem to conflate all anti-choice groups together.  NRTL is not American Life League (which does oppose contraception), nor does it prescribe to the “personhood” movement. 

  • waterjoe

    The honest and knowledgeable lawyer would also point out that this would be the case only if the state does not impose any any additional restrictions after viability.

    But the health exception is so broad under Doe that any restrictions placed by the state are basically meaningless.

  • prochoiceferret

    But the health exception is so broad under Doe that any restrictions placed by the state are basically meaningless.

     

    Oh, so you want women not to be able to have abortions even if their health is in danger! Yeah, I guess the current law doesn’t suit you so well, then.

  • crowepps

    “Officially, the National Right to Life Committee takes no position on birth control. Its legislative director, Douglas Johnson, has restated this neutrality many times. I’m inclined to believe him, because I take people’s stated motivations seriously.

    Johnson, however, doesn’t take such statements seriously. He relentlessly characterizes his opponents as “pro-abortion,” even though they don’t like abortions.   They call themselves “pro-choice” or “pro-abortion rights.” But Johnson insists on an objective standard: Do you support legislation that funds abortions or people who defend them? If so, you’re pro-abortion.

    By this standard, NRLC is against contraception.

    Last year. That was 2008, before the votes on D.C. appropriations and the Obama State Department. The only funding votes Ryan had flunked at that point were on contraception. DFLA excommunicated Ryan for the same reason NRLC did: He disagreed with them on birth control.

    I’d like to think NRLC and DFLA are anti-abortion, not anti-contraception. But when I look at them as Johnson would, ignoring their stated motives and focusing instead on their records, I can’t really defend them.

    www.slate.com/id/2224154/pagenum/all

     

    There are a number of other articles on the web about how NRL (as well as other supposedly ‘not opposed to contraception’ ProLife organizations) had a huge cow when the adamently anti-abortion Ryan tried to reduce unwanted pregnancies by funding contraception.

  • katwa

    Roe and Doe support the proposition that abortions can occur up to the point of delivery

    Uh, after viability, I believe the term for ending a pregnancy is called a “C-Section” or “Induced Labor”. Are you against that??

  • crowepps

    ‘Abortions’ are also done in late pregnancy when the fetus is dead.