Repro Wrap: Reproductive Rights a Key Issue in Some Upcoming Elections


Some voters may just be coming back from summer vacation, but politicians and political action groups in New Jersey, Virginia, and Georgia are in full campaign mode.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to hold a special election to fill a seat vacated by the late Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg just three weeks before he himself is up for re-election, on November 5, has raised eyebrows, with some people speculating that his motives might be political. But for both candidates, access to reproductive health care as a key element in their races.

For example, the Republican governor’s Democratic challenger, Barbara Buono, is hoping to narrow the 20-point gap between her and the governor by, among other things, focusing on his consistent opposition to family planning funding. Buono has put restoring the funding that Christie has cut from the women’s health program into her campaign platform, funding Christie has vetoed five times while in office.

Also in New Jersey, the American Commitment Action Fund, a new super PAC led by a former aide from Americans for Prosperity, has joined with the Susan B. Anthony List to run an online ad against Democratic Senate candidate Cory Booker. The ad calls the mayor of Newark more extreme on abortion than other Democrats and accuses him of “supporting taxpayer funding for abortion and late-term abortion,” according to the Washington Post. Booker is running against Tea Party Republican Steve Lonegan, who opposes abortion in all cases, including sexual assault.

Family planning issues are also popping up in Virginia, which will hold elections in November as well. When an audience member at a gubernatorial debate asked Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli if rumors that he would support restricting birth control access were false, Cuccinelli responded, “I wouldn’t call them rumors, I might call them lies. Yeah, let’s be accurate about this,” according to the Washington Post.

As MaddowBlog’s Steve Benen notes, Cuccinelli’s response doesn’t jibe with his legislative past. Benen points to Cuccinelli’s past support of “personhood” legislation, which could ban different forms of birth control if implemented. Cuccinelli also urged business owners and church leaders to go to jail rather than agree to allow their insurance plans to cover birth control.

And in Georgia, Republicans are still looking for a leader in the 2014 state senate race, where the party has no clear frontrunner for Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ open seat. Of the candidates who are trying for the nomination, their views on abortion run from anti-choice to very anti-choice. Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) said when advocating for a bill to grant legal rights to fertilized eggs that “a zygote’s right to life should be ‘defended vigorously and at all costs,'” according to Huffington Post. Also running is Karen Handel, who was involved in Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood’s breast cancer screening practices.

Also expected to run, according to Politico, is Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA), who once said Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) was “partly right” that women won’t get pregnant if sexually assaulted.

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