Roundup: Choosing Gubernatorial Candidates Not Always A Great Choice

We're now entering the countdown to election day, and in some states the candidates show clear differences on abortion.  In others, the choices are exactly the same.

In Minnesota, the day after Labor Day means two things: school is starting, and the political season is officially in high gear. 

In New Mexico, abortion has become a key differentiator between two gubernatorial candidates, as the Santa Fe New Mexican Reports:

Neither gubernatorial candidate has spent much time discussing abortion. But both are supported by organizations on opposite sides of the issue.

Denish has received $90,000 from Emily’s List, a national organization, which, according to its website, “is committed to electing more pro-choice Democratic women to office to build a more progressive America.”

Meanwhile, Martinez has been endorsed by The Right to Life Committee of New Mexico. This group does not directly contribute to political campaigns, executive director Dauneen Dolce said Friday. However, the group will send out mailers in support of Martinez and other candidates they support. Dolce said she doesn’t know yet how much the committee will spend on the mailers.

Few issues are more divisive in American politics, even though on a state level there’s not much that can be done either way on the matter of abortion.

Still, the issue seems to manifest every two years in the Legislature in the form of the “parental-notification” bill. Basically, this legislation does not in itself outlaw any abortions. It simply requires that doctors notify the parents of a pregnant minor before she is allowed to have an abortion.

School nurses have to notify parents before they give a student an aspirin, proponents of parental notification say. Why shouldn’t they be notified before a procedure as serious as abortion?

Opponents usually object that this is unfair to girls who come from abusive homes. Supporters of parental notification argue that the bill has a legal mechanism to allow the girl to seek intervention from a judge, who can rule that the parents can’t be notified. Opponents say it’s unlikely a scared, pregnant teenager would be able to navigate through the legal system.

Denish is opposed to parental notifications for abortions.

“Diane believes every girl should be able to turn to her parents when she needs support,” campaign spokesman Chris Cervini said in an e-mail last week. “But some are in unsafe situations, and they need to be able to exercise their rights in private without fear of abuse or retaliation.”

Martinez’s campaign did not respond to a request to discuss her position on parental notification. Her website has only one mention of abortion, and that’s to say she was endorsed by The Right to Life Committee of New Mexico “as a candidate who will stand up for pro-life principles.”

Dolce confirmed the endorsement. She declined to release a candidate questionnaire Martinez completed, but said Martinez indicated she opposes abortion “except in cases of rape or incest.” She said Martinez’s questionnaire said she supports the parental-notification law.

Of course, those of us who write about reproductive rights know that there is much that can be done on a state level about abortion, despite the reporter’s assertion otherwise. Which is why, when both candidates for governor are anti-abortion, pro-choice voters can be somewhat lacking in options.  From the Sun News:

South Carolina voters who support abortion rights have no choice in November’s gubernatorial election.

For the first time in recent history both the Democratic and Republican nominees for governor are anti-choice.

Lexington state Rep. Nikki Haley, the Republican nominee, and state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, the Democratic nominee, sparred lightly over the abortion issue recently. But there is plenty of agreement between them over abortion.

A third candidate, Morgan Reeves of the Green and United Citizens parties, is undecided.

While the state’s stagnant economy remains the top issue, the lack of choice in candidates coupled with new abortion restrictions signed into law this year are upsetting abortion rights voters.

“I’m very disappointed, and it makes me very, very nervous about the future,” said Katherine Giles, an abortion rights voter in Charleston. “Women are half the population. If [politicians] are so willing to throw away our reproductive rights, what next will they say that women don’t have the intellect to make a decision about?”

It’s not surprising that those of us who are pro-choice are slowly losing our options when it comes to political candidates.  Anti-choice politics are no longer the platform of one party, and is growing on the Democratic side as well, as Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey discussed in a recent public appearance.  Via WDUQNews:

Democratic US Senator Bob Casey says his party has become more receptive to anti-abortion candidates since his father, Governor Robert Casey, was in office. Casey made his comments last week as part of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s ongoing series about former governors. Governor Casey stepped into the national lime light by not being allowed to address the National Democratic Convention in 1992 because of his prolife view. Sen. Casey spoke about his father’s book “Fighting for Life.” In the memoir, Governor Casey makes the case Democrats should be more receptive to anti-abortion candidates. Sen. Casey, who also opposes abortion rights, says things have changed over the past 14 years. “In terms of the Democratic Party nationally, my election, and others, but my election was evidence that they weren’t going to use a litmus test on abortion to prevent you – on being pro-life – from running for the US Senate. So I think there was substantial progress made on that.”

Mini Roundup: One group claims that the HPV vaccine is leading to an increase in chlamydia in Scottish schoolgirls, and the number of women getting pap smears in the U.K. seems to be on a decline due to loss of a famous spokesperson.

September 6