Roundup: Abortion, a Really Big Issue, Except When It’s Not

Robin Marty

Carly Fiorina has the backing of Sarah Palin and Susan B. Anthony List, but does California even care about ending abortion?

Carly Fiorina is getting a lot of momentum behind her campaign to win the Republican nomination to challenge Sen. Barbara Boxer for her California Senate seat.  Recently she’s gotten backing from Sarah Palin (although the Tea Party adherents themselves prefer one of her rivals), and the anti-abortion women’s candidate group the Susan B. Anthony List.

But it seems that despite the support from these adamantly anti-abortion activists, Fiorina isn’t even the most pro-life person in the race.  Lucky for her, no one thinks the voters care much, either.

While the issue is intensely personal for Fiorina, abortion has largely faded as a major public concern in 2010, at least so far. With the economy still sputtering, the Republican candidates say that voters are much more focused on bread-and-butter issues this year.

For former Rep. Tom Campbell, the frontrunner in the race, it’s deja vu: In the 2000 GOP Senate race, he was the lone candidate in a three-way field to support abortion rights. He won the GOP primary, only to lose to Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein in the general election.

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But 10 years ago, with a stronger economy, Campbell said abortion was a much more prominent issue for Republicans. This year, he said, no one is talking about it.

“It never comes up,” said Campbell. “People are out of work. People are worried that their children won’t get a job. That’s where the focus is.”

He just wishes that his party would quit fighting about the issue for good.

“There’s just so much that unites the Republican Party,” he said. “The focus on abortion, that tends to be something that has divided us.”

One of her opponents, who believes that abortion should be banned in all cases except for risk to a mother’s life, calls Fiorina’s new anti-choice supporters, “more establishment oriented than they are philosophically oriented.”

That would be news to Marjorie Dannenfelser, founder of the Susan B. Anthony List.  She considers herself to be the forefront of anti-abortion movement, and has declared abortion an issue that is “back on the national radar.”  Although Dannenfelser has already dedicated the majority of her group’s financial backing to attempting to oust Majority Leader Harry Reid from his senate seat in Nevada, she sees her organization as a chance to punish anti-choice candidates who voted for the healthcare bill.

Dannenfelser, wearing a striped beige jacket and a necklace of silver spheres, came out of her small office, where books about the importance of women in the life of Pope John Paul II (“Wojtyla’s Women”) and an anti-Democratic screed (“The Party of Death”) sat in a short bookcase. She spoke in a warm Southern accent, and as she fiddled with a pink packet of Post-it Notes, declared that the abortion issue is back on the nation’s radar.

She welcomed its resurgence, and the attendant spike in interest in her group, which she attributed to the Democrats’ health-care law. She still harbors a grudge against nuns who “provided cover” to Catholic lawmakers to support the legislation: “You still hear Democrats harkening to these nuns who nobody ever heard of till that day, and now they are the authoritative church figures?” she said, bristling. Rep. Bart Stupak’s approval of the bill, she said, made the loss all the more painful.

“We were going to give him an award. We were going to support him in the primary,” she said of the Michigan Democrat, an abortion opponent, adding, “He looked me in the eye and said of the president and the Democratic leadership, ‘They know I won’t fold. There is no way.’ “

The day Stupak voted for the legislation, Dannenfelser said she made it clear to him that “we are going to be involved in your defeat.”

Whether she stoked fear in him or not, Stupak announced that he will not seek reelection. Dannenfelser has hired Marilyn Musgrave, a former congresswoman from Colorado who opposes abortion, to target Senate seats held by Democrats in Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana and New Hampshire. The bulk of the SBA List’s money — a few million dollars — will go to Nevada, but resources will also punish House Democrats who oppose abortion and yet voted for the health-care bill. That included Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (W.Va.), who was Dannenfelser’s employer on the Hill and whom she targeted in the Democratic primary, which he lost on Tuesday. “This should be just another sign to pro-life Democrats that voted for the health-care bill that they will face the same consequences as Stupak and Mollohan,” she said in a statement.

It would be interesting to see what Dannenfelser would say to hearing that her group wasn’t “philosophically oriented.”  A former pro-choice Republican who was persuaded to turn against women’s reproductive rights by a college boyfriend, Dannenfelser has now made electing anti-abortion female candidates her sole reason for existance.   But would Susan B. Anthony approve?

She called it the Susan B. Anthony List because, according to the group’s Web site, “Susan B. Anthony was an outspoken opponent of abortion, referring to it as ‘child murder.’ “

The reference to “child murder” comes from an unsigned 1868 editorial in the Revolution, a paper Anthony published. Much of the editorial is an indictment on the root reasons for unwanted pregnancies, and Ellen Wheeler, a spokeswoman for the Susan B. Anthony House, a historical society, said that the suffragist’s name is often used to bestow credibility on causes Anthony didn’t necessarily have anything to do with.

“There is no evidence that this was as an issue she was passionate about,” Wheeler said. “There was a movement to make abortion illegal back then, and she did not join that movement.”

Perhaps Susan B. Anthony was as disinterested in prioratizing ending abortion as the current voters in California.

Mini Roundup: Missouri may not have had time to pass money-saving measures, but they crammed important things like abortion restrictions in before the legislative session ended.  And a Dekalb reproductive health clinic has a bomb scare.

May 13, 2010

Alaska high court justice recuses herself from abortion case –

5 Things: Laura Bush surprises on gay marriage, abortion – Toronto Star

Personhood Fight Begins – State Bill Colorado

My Visit to Planned Parenthood’s New Mega Abortion Center in Portland, Oregon –

Kagan Pick Disturbs Pro-Life Groups – Dallas Blog

Pope calls abortion, gay marriage insidious threat – Houston Chronicle

Oklahoma’s tough new abortion laws –

Laura Bush Supports Gay Marriage, Abortion – Christian Broadcasting Network

Alaska justice steps away from abortion lawsuit– Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Abortion bill: Will he or won’t he? – Florida Times-Union

Harper praised for adopting Bush abortion policy – Toronto Star

Oklahoma is OK: (Unless you want an abortion) – Tri State Defender

Democrats abandon women on abortion, again – Salon

Pope Takes Aim at Portugal’s Moves Toward Abortion and Gay Marriage – New York Times

Former First Lady Laura Bush supports Gay Marriage, Abortion –

Veto Urged on Abortion legislation – Capitol News Service

John Ivison: Anti-abortion forces enjoy their moment in the sun – National Post

Abortion a personal issue in California GOP Senate race – and a fading one for … –

Foes of abortion ultrasound bill protest outside Crist home – Brandon News and Tribune

Pope decries abortion, same-sex marriage at Fatima – The Associated Press

Laura Bush Disagrees On Gay & Abortion Issues – CBS 4

In Portugal, pope criticizes abortion, same-sex marriage – Kansas City Star

Kenyan Constitution Opens New Front in Culture Wars – New York Times

Sarasota rally urges Crist to veto abortion bill – Bradenton Herald

Abortion law may mean city policy changes – Arizona Republic

Woman who supported abortion rights experienced evolution that changed her mind – Washington Post

An ode to ‘The Pill’ – Brattleboro Reformer

No bomb at DeKalb family planning clinic – Atlanta Journal Constitution

Sex without children – Ottawa Citizen

South Africa: Stories of resilience in the face of HIV and AIDS –

Frequent alcohol use linked to faster HIV disease progression – EurekAlert

Chinese researcher seeks to kill HIV – China Daily

Preventing HIV Transmission From Mother to Baby – Ivanhoe

Mammograms on must-do list – Tri State Defender

World Bank releases new plan to cut maternal deaths – Daily Monitor

Teen pregnancy: Young girls wanting a baby – KARE

May 14, 2010

Maggie Gallagher CAN POLITICS WIN A CULTURE WAR? – Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone

Sense of momentum bolsters pro-life rally – National Post

Laura Bush: I secretly supported abortion and gay marriage – even though my … – Daily Mail

Kagan’s Nomination Sparks Speculation Over Her Abortion Views – FOXNews

Planned Parenthood gets silent treatment from Ottawa – Toronto Star

Ethics, abortion remain at end of Mo. Legislature – R & D Magazine

Laura Bush: I was secretly in favour of abortion and gay rights –

50 years on, the pill can still spark rows and work magic – The Guardian

Long-term contraceptive methods vital in helping cut teenage pregnancy rates – This is Scunthorpe

Poverty hinders HIV protecting efforts – Weekly Blitz

Harper’s Maternal Health Policy Gets Support From Anti-Abortion Groups – AHN | All Headline News

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Reproductive rights are a public health issue. That's a fact.

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