McCain’s Veepstakes As He Revives Maverick Image

Scott Swenson

The GOP Veepstakes are more interesting given that Sen. McCain has finally decided to revive his maverick image. Is anti-choice heroine Gov. Sarah Palin the answer?

For the sexual and reproductive health community, the most interesting veepstakes is not the choice now facing Sen. Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee for President of the United States but the choice that Sen. John McCain might make to motivate the social conservative base of the Republican Party.

Last night McCain attempted to revive his image as a maverick in a speech critical of President Bush, staged near New Orleans to highlight the tragic failure of the Bush Administration to respond to Hurricane Katrina. In an effort to moderate his image after being forced to run to the right in the primaries, McCain wants to sound like a centrist and paint his opponent as liberal and out of touch. In his speech last night McCain said,

My opponent believes government has all the answers to every problem, and government should take our resources and make our decisions for us. That type of government doesn’t trust Americans to know what is right and what is best in their own interests — its the attitude of politicians who are sure of themselves but have little faith in the wisdom, decency, and common sense of free people.

 

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But McCain’s faith in free people doesn’t apply to women’s reproductive freedom. While he may attempt to pivot to the center rhetorically, it is increasingly clear he must find a way to placate social conservatives who’ve never really trusted him in spite of his consistent anti-choice voting record, and pledge to appoint "strict-constructionists" (a.k.a. anti-choice activist judges) to the U.S. Supreme Court.

One potential veep mentioned with increasing frequency is Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK). In the warped and insular world that is "pro-life" politics, her selection is also seen as an effort to make a play for disgruntled female supporters of Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Really?

Anti-choice McCain, with an anti-choice Palin, no matter how young and attractive she may be, would stand for policies so far removed from the reality of the women who loyally supported Sen. Clinton, as to reduce the Palin nomination to the status of political novelty. Palin’s policies would be offensive to the vast majority of Clinton supporters, as well as moderates and independents. Her selection would be a telling move that McCain failed to solidify his base, and like the nomination of Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, would be historic for the GOP, but ultimately signal a lack of confidence in their general election strategy.

Palin is a young, attractive, mother of five including a recently born baby with Downs Syndrome. A heroine of the "pro-life" movement, she could give disaffected social conservative voters reason to rally.

The American Spectator describes Palin:

She’s young being only
44 (two years behind Senator Obama), she is widely known to despise
government corruption. She defeated a horribly entrenched and corrupt
Republican political machine in Alaska. She has a son in the U.S.
military. She’s strongly pro-life, belonging, in fact, to Feminists for
Life. Gov. Palin could become the Republican Party’s Segolene
Royal, the French Socialist Party’s glamorous leader known for her
heels and political bite. She is the perfect antidote to Sen. Obama’s
cheap thrills, and would help rejuvenate conservatism.

 

The Washington Times said of Palin,

And her presence could highlight Mr. Obama’s extremist abortion views on whether certain lives are worth living.

 

Indeed, a McCain-Palin ticket would make this election a clear referendum on nearly a generation of divisive politics on reproductive health issues. Palin could also help put a kinder-gentler face on anti-choicers, as well as breathe new life into a GOP race that has seemed stale from the start.

But no matter how attractive the packaging, it will only serve to move the GOP further to the extremes of their ideological base. In an election of seismic proportions, a McCain-Palin ticket would add one more important dimension to the change that is taking place, once and for all allowing us to demonstrate at the polls that Americans embrace pro-choice values, and reject the divisiveness of the anti-choice community that has defined the rise, and perhaps fall, of the conservative era now passing. 

News Abortion

Pennsylvania’s TRAP Law Could Be the Next to Go Down

Teddy Wilson

The Democrats' bill would repeal language from a measure that targets abortion clinics, forcing them to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical facilities.

A Pennsylvania lawmaker on Wednesday introduced a bill that would repeal a state law requiring abortion clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical facilities (ASF). The bill comes in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling striking down a similar provision in Texas’ anti-choice omnibus law known as HB 2.

A similar so-called targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) law was passed in Pennsylvania in 2011 with bipartisan majorities in both the house and state senate, and was signed into law by former Gov. Tom Corbett (R).

SB 1350, sponsored by Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) would repeal language from Act 122 that requires abortion clinics to meet ASF regulations. The text of the bill has not yet been posted on the state’s legislative website.

The bill is co-sponsored by state Sens. Art Haywood (D-Philadelphia), Larry Farnese (D-Philadelphia), and Judy Schwank (D-Berks).

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Leach said in a statement that there has been a “nationwide attack on patients and their doctors,” but that the Supreme Court’s ruling upholds the constitutionally protected right to terminate a pregnancy.

“Abortion is a legal, Constitutionally-protected right that should be available to all women,” Leach said. “Every member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly swore an oath to support, obey and defend the Constitution of the United States, so we must act swiftly to repeal this unconstitutional requirement.”

TRAP laws, which single out abortion clinics and providers and subject them to regulations that are more stringent than those applied to medical clinics, have been passed in several states in recent years.

However, the Supreme Court’s ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt that struck down two of the provisions in HB 2 has already had ramifications on similar laws passed in other states with GOP-held legislatures.

The Supreme Court blocked similar anti-choice laws in Wisconsin and Mississippi, and Alabama’s attorney general announced he would drop an appeal to a legal challenge of a similar law.

News Abortion

Reproductive Justice Groups Hit Back at RNC’s Anti-Choice Platform

Michelle D. Anderson

Reproductive rights and justice groups are greeting the Republican National Convention with billboards and media campaigns that challenge anti-choice policies.

Reproductive advocacy groups have moved to counter negative images that will be displayed this week during the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Cleveland, while educating the public about anti-choice legislation that has eroded abortion care access nationwide.

Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee for president, along with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), Trump’s choice for vice president, have supported a slew of anti-choice policies.

The National Institute for Reproductive Health is among the many groups bringing attention to the Republican Party’s anti-abortion platform. The New York City-based nonprofit organization this month erected six billboards near RNC headquarters and around downtown Cleveland hotels with the message, “If abortion is made illegal, how much time will a person serve?”

The institute’s campaign comes as Created Equal, an anti-abortion organization based in Columbus, Ohio, released its plans to use aerial advertising. The group’s plan was first reported by The Stream, a conservative Christian website.

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The site reported that the anti-choice banners would span 50 feet by 100 feet and seek to “pressure congressional Republicans into defunding Planned Parenthood.” Those plans were scrapped after the Federal Aviation Administration created a no-fly zone around both parties’ conventions.

Created Equal, which was banned from using similar messages on a large public monitor near the popular Alamo historic site in San Antonio, Texas, in 2014, did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health, said in an interview with Rewire that Created Equal’s stance and tactics on abortion show how “dramatically out of touch” its leaders compared to where most of the public stands on reproductive rights. Last year, a Gallup poll suggested half of Americans supported a person’s right to have an abortion, while 44 percent considered themselves “pro-life.”

About 56 percent of U.S. adults believe abortion care should be legal all or most of the time, according to the Pew Research Center’s FactTank.

“It’s important to raise awareness about what the RNC platform has historically endorsed and what they have continued to endorse,” Miller told Rewire.

Miller noted that more than a dozen women, like Purvi Patel of Indiana, have been arrested or convicted of alleged self-induced abortion since 2004. The billboards, she said, help convey what might happen if the Republican Party platform becomes law across the country.

Miller said the National Institute for Reproductive Health’s campaign had been in the works for several months before Created Equal announced its now-cancelled aerial advertising plans. Although the group was not aware of Created Equal’s plans, staff anticipated that intimidating messages seeking to shame and stigmatize people would be used during the GOP convention, Miller said.

The institute, in a statement about its billboard campaign, noted that many are unaware of “both the number of anti-choice laws that have passed and their real-life consequences.” The group unveiled an in-depth analysis looking at how the RNC platform “has consistently sought to make abortion both illegal and inaccessible” over the last 30 years.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio last week began an online newspaper campaign that placed messages in the Cleveland Plain Dealer via Cleveland.com, the Columbus Dispatch, and the Dayton Daily News, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio spokesman Gabriel Mann told Rewire.

The ads address actions carried out by Created Equal by asking, “When Did The Right To Life Become The Right To Terrorize Ohio Abortion Providers?”

“We’re looking to expose how bad [Created Equal has] been in these specific media markets in Ohio. Created Equal has targeted doctors outside their homes,” Mann said. “It’s been a very aggressive campaign.”

The NARAL ads direct readers to OhioAbortionFacts.org, an educational website created by NARAL; Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio; the human rights and reproductive justice group, New Voices Cleveland; and Preterm, the only abortion provider located within Cleveland city limits.

The website provides visitors with a chronological look at anti-abortion restrictions that have been passed in Ohio since the landmark decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973.

In 2015, for example, Ohio’s Republican-held legislature passed a law requiring all abortion facilities to have a transfer agreement with a non-public hospital within 30 miles of their location. 

Like NARAL and the National Institute for Reproductive Health, Preterm has erected a communications campaign against the RNC platform. In Cleveland, that includes a billboard bearing the message, “End The Silence. End the Shame,” along a major highway near the airport, Miller said.

New Voices has focused its advocacy on combatting anti-choice policies and violence against Black women, especially on social media sites like Twitter.

After the police killing of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old Black boy, New Voices collaborated with the Repeal Hyde Art Project to erect billboard signage showing that reproductive justice includes the right to raise children who are protected from police brutality.

Abortion is not the only issue that has become the subject of billboard advertising at the GOP convention.

Kansas-based environmental and LGBTQ rights group Planting Peace erected a billboard depicting Donald Trump kissing his former challenger Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) just minutes from the RNC site, according to the Plain Dealer.

The billboard, which features the message, “Love Trumps Hate. End Homophobia,” calls for an “immediate change in the Republican Party platform with regard to our LGBT family and LGBT rights,” according to news reports.

CORRECTION: A version of this article incorrectly stated the percentage of Americans in favor of abortion rights.