In a new interview with the Boston Globe, the Republican nominee to fill a vacant Senate seat for Massachusetts did not offer much new indication about how his views on reproductive rights would translate into votes on the Senate floor if he were to win the June 25 special election.
On his website, political rookie Gabriel Gomez devotes a handful of words to what he calls “life Issues”:
I am a proud Catholic, and prolife.
But Roe v Wade is settled law. Politicians spend way too much time on divisive issues that are already decided and far too little time on fixing our economy.
Sex. Abortion. Parenthood. Power.
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But in Congress and particularly in the states, abortion rights have been approached as anything but settled law. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 2011 and 2012 ushered in the highest and second-highest number of abortion restrictions enacted in state legislatures in one year, respectively.
When pressed by the Boston Globe about recent restrictions on abortion and contraception considered by Congress, Gomez brought little clarity to how he would have voted.
On the failed 2009 Stupak-Pitts Amendment to the Affordable Care Act that would have gone further than existing bans on federal funding for abortion care to ban federal subsidies from contributing to private health insurance plans offering coverage for abortion care, Gomez admitted he hadn’t read it, saying, “Is this federal funding for abortion? I don’t believe that there should be federal dollars to fund abortion.”
The reporter, Stephanie Ebbert, told him that Stupak-Pitts concerned federal subsidies for private health insurance plans that fund abortion care. He responded, “OK, but I don’t think there should be federal funding for abortions.”
Proponents of Stupak-Pitts had claimed an unusually expansive vision of what constitutes federal funding within larger private entities routinely accepting federal funding that, if applied in other contexts, might have suggested that Catholic hospitals refusing to offer emergency contraception to rape victims, as per new sexual assault exam guidelines recently released by the Department of Justice, should not be eligible to accept Medicaid dollars for any patient or procedure.
On the failed Blunt Amendment of 2012 that would have allowed secular employers to exclude contraception and other services covered by third-party health insurance plans to employees and dependents, Gomez told the Globe, “Honestly, I haven’t read the Blunt Amendment, so it’s hard for me to go yea or nay without reading the full Blunt Amendment. That’s part of the reason why these guys and women down there should read these whole things. … I’m happy to look at it.”
When further questioned, he said, “Oh, is this like the Catholic Church and all? Yeah, I don’t believe the Catholic Church—or any faith, any organization like that—should have to do something that goes against their doctrine.”
The Blunt Amendment went far beyond allowing religious or religiously affiliated institutions to refuse contraceptive coverage, for which the Obama administration has repeatedly crafted exclusions and compromises regarding third-party health insurance plans used by their employees and dependents. The Blunt Amendment would have made into law the opinion of, among others, the general counsel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Anthony Picarello, who last year suggested that even if he were running a Taco Bell he should be legally empowered to stop employees from accessing contraception without a co-pay.
Real Clear Politics shows Gomez running roughly 8.7 points behind Democratic nominee Rep. Ed Markey.
The day after the primary, Rep. Markey said the following about his general election opponent Gabriel Gomez to MSNBC: “He is not pro-choice. He is not committing to voting against a Supreme Court nominee who was not pro-choice. There are going to be big differences between the two of us.”
Should Gomez further elucidate his views on abortion and reproductive rights, it would go against traditional approaches to running a Senate campaign as a Republican in Massachusetts; for instance, both Gov. Mitt Romney and Sen. Scott Brown tread lightly on topics of women’s health during election season.
In any case, Rep. Markey has indicated he wishes to debate Gomez three times before the special election. If those debates occur, Rep. Markey will likely continue to try and draw out the anti-choice views of Gabriel Gomez.