News Politics

Marco Rubio Creates Anti-Choice Advisory Board

Ally Boguhn

The Republican presidential candidate justified his board by declaring abortion a “human rights issue,” claiming that the United States has overlooked the principles on which it was founded by allowing abortion to be legal.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is stepping up his anti-choice strategy ahead of this week’s Roe v. Wade anniversary and the looming Iowa caucus, releasing an ad touting his anti-choice platform and creating an advisory board to help show his opposition to abortion. 

“If I have to make a choice, I am going to choose life,” Rubio said in the ad, after promising to “look for ways to limit the number of abortions in this country.”

Rubio announced Tuesday that he had created an anti-choice advisory board to help guide his campaign on abortion. The board would work with his administration, should he win the presidency.

In a statement for LifeNews, the Republican presidential candidate justified his board by declaring abortion a “human rights issue,” claiming that the United States has overlooked the principles on which it was founded by allowing abortion to be legal.

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“Abortion is not a political issue to me, it’s a human rights issue. It involves a fundamental question about who is worthy of the protection of our laws that reveals the kind of nation we are,” Rubio said. “The inherent dignity of every human life is the foundational principle on which America was founded, though we have, to our shame, too often failed to live up to that standard. Someday, hopefully in our lifetimes, but certainly someday, Americans will look back and wonder how we could possibly have been so barbaric.”

Rubio explained that the board would be staffed with anti-choice leaders his campaign considered to be “authorities on the dignity of human life,” including legal experts, activists, and religious figures.

“We are especially proud to be working with those who understand the broader ethic of human life that applies to all those on the margins of society, including women facing the crisis of an unplanned pregnancy, the poor, disabled, sick, and elderly,” Rubio told the anti-choice site.

Rubio’s advisers include activist Abby Johnson, an ex-Planned Parenthood employee turned anti-choice spokesperson, as well as Steve Aden, senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom. Johnson participated in a smear campaign launched against Planned Parenthood last year by an anti-choice front group known as the Center for Medical Progress, which coordinated with Republican legislators nationwide in efforts to defund the health-care organization.

“I believe that because of my intimate knowledge of the abortion industry, I can help him craft talking points surrounding issues specifically related to abortion legislation, clinic regulations and other similar topic,” Johnson said in a statement to Mother Jones. “[W]e need to do a better job of getting a message of love out to the masses and it will be an honor to help do that through this committee.”

Rubio’s announcement was preceded by the release of an anti-abortion ad to be aired in Iowa, where the evangelical voting bloc will play a key role in the state’s upcoming caucus.

“It’s not because I want to tell anybody what to do with their bodies or their lives, but because I believe that one of the fundamental rights given to us by our Creator is the right to live,” Rubio said in the ad.

Rubio has made his anti-choice stance no secret while on the campaign trail, and has faced criticismeven from those within his own partyfor his extreme position that anti-choice legislation does not need to contain exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

News Politics

NARAL President Tells Her Abortion Story at the Democratic National Convention

Ally Boguhn

Though reproductive rights and health have been discussed by both Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) while on the campaign trail, Democrats have come under fire for failing to ask about abortion care during the party’s debates.

Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, told the story of her abortion on the stage of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) Wednesday evening in Philadelphia.

“Texas women are tough. We approach challenges with clear eyes and full hearts. To succeed in life, all we need are the tools, the trust, and the chance to chart our own path,” Hogue told the crowd on the third night of the party’s convention. “I was fortunate enough to have these things when I found out I was pregnant years ago. I wanted a family, but it was the wrong time.”

“I made the decision that was best for me — to have an abortion — and to get compassionate care at a clinic in my own community,” she continued. “Now, years later, my husband and I are parents to two incredible children.”

Hogue noted that her experience is similar to those of women nationwide.

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“About one in three American women have abortions by the age of 45, and the majority are mothers just trying to take care of the families they already have,” she said. “You see, it’s not as simple as bad girls get abortions and good girls have families. We are the same women at different times in our lives — each making decisions that are the best for us.”

As reported by Yahoo News, “Asked if she was the first to have spoken at a Democratic National Convention about having had an abortion for reasons other than a medical crisis, Hogue replied, ‘As far as I know.'”

Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards on Tuesday night was the first speaker at the DNC in Philadelphia to say the word “abortion” on stage, according to Vox’s Emily Crockett. 

Richards’ use of the word abortion was deliberate, and saying the word helps address the stigma that surrounds it, Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s Vice President of Communication Mary Alice Carter said in an interview with ThinkProgress. 

“When we talk about reproductive health, we talk about the full range of reproductive health, and that includes access to abortion. So we’re very deliberate in saying we stand up for a woman’s right to access an abortion,” Carter said.

“There is so much stigma around abortion and so many people that sit in shame and don’t talk about their abortion, and so it’s very important to have the head of Planned Parenthood say ‘abortion,’ it’s very important for any woman who’s had an abortion to say ‘abortion,’ and it’s important for us to start sharing those stories and start bringing it out of the shadows and recognizing that it’s a normal experience,” she added.

Though reproductive rights and health have been discussed by both Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) while on the campaign trail, Democrats have come under fire for failing to ask about abortion care during the party’s debates. In April, Clinton called out moderators for failing to ask “about a woman’s right to make her own decisions about reproductive health care” over the course of eight debates—though she did not use the term abortion in her condemnation.

News Politics

Tim Kaine Changes Position on Federal Funding for Abortion Care

Ally Boguhn

The Obama administration, however, has not signaled support for rolling back the Hyde Amendment's ban on federal funding for abortion care.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), the Democratic Party’s vice presidential candidate, has promised to stand with nominee Hillary Clinton in opposing the Hyde Amendment, a ban on federal funding for abortion care.

Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, told CNN’s State of the Union Sunday that Kaine “has said that he will stand with Secretary Clinton to defend a woman’s right to choose, to repeal the Hyde amendment,” according to the network’s transcript.

“Voters can be 100 percent confident that Tim Kaine is going to fight to protect a woman’s right to choose,” Mook said.

The commitment to opposing Hyde was “made privately,” Clinton spokesperson Jesse Ferguson later clarified to CNN’s Edward Mejia Davis.

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Kaine’s stated support for ending the federal ban on abortion funding is a reversal on the issue for the Virginia senator. Kaine this month told the Weekly Standard  that he had not “been informed” that this year’s Democratic Party platform included a call for repealing the Hyde Amendment. He said he has “traditionally been a supporter of the Hyde amendment.”

Repealing the Hyde Amendment has been an issue for Democrats on the campaign trail this election cycle. Speaking at a campaign rally in New Hampshire in January, Clinton denounced Hyde, noting that it made it “harder for low-income women to exercise their full rights.”

Clinton called the federal ban on abortion funding “hard to justify” when asked about it later that month at the Brown and Black Presidential Forum, adding that “the full range of reproductive health rights that women should have includes access to safe and legal abortion.”

Clinton’s campaign told Rewire during her 2008 run for president that she “does not support the Hyde amendment.”

The Democratic Party on Monday codified its commitment to opposing Hyde, as well as the Helms Amendment’s ban on foreign assistance funds being used for abortion care. 

The Obama administration, however, has not signaled support for rolling back Hyde’s ban on federal funding for abortion care.

When asked about whether the president supported the repeal of Hyde during the White House press briefing Tuesday, Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said he did not “believe we have changed our position on the Hyde Amendment.”

When pushed by a reporter to address if the administration is “not necessarily on board” with the Democratic platform’s call to repeal Hyde, Schultz said that the administration has “a longstanding view on this and I don’t have any changes in our position to announce today.”