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“Outlawing Contraception”: Virginia House Passes Personhood Bill

Republican delegate Bob Marshall says critics are overstating things when it comes to the personhood bill he is sponsoring in Virginia. Opponents of his bill have argued that not only does the measure grant legal protections to all fetuses beginning at conception, but it could also be construed to outlaw birth control.

The bill is ostensibly less stringent than similar measures that came up in Colorado and Mississippi. As Marshall points out, it does not directly outlaw abortion, but would force the courts to include embryos in definitions of person. “I think I struck a middle ground,” says Marshall.

Try telling that to the bill’s opponents, who fear the bill’s consequences for women’s health. The House rejected an amendment by Democratic delegate Virginia Watts that would have specifically protected birth-control access.

Marshall called the amendment “a vehicle to entrap me,” arguing it would have hurt the bill in court. By specifically allowing birth control, Marshall says, the courts could interpret the bill as prohibiting anything not specifically allowed. “If I were to accept any one of these,” he said,  the courts could say “here’s Mr. Marshall, acknowledging unintended consequences.”

But Watts argues the bill already has that problem because it specifically allows in-vitro fertilization. The last section of Marshall’s bill notes that “nothing in this section shall be interpreted as affecting lawfully assisted conception.” In other words, in-vitro is okay. Watts contends that because the bill specifically allows in vitro, it therefore disallows any other acts that would interfere with conception—like birth control.  “You said it doesn’t pertain to one thing, therefore it does to everything else,” says Watts. “That’s why my amendment was so crucial … anything that keeps that from being implanted in the womb, kills a person under this bill.”

The bill is headed to the state Senate, where no one seems to know what will happen. While the House committee that dealt with Marshall’s bill was stacked in favor of the Republicans, the Senate’s committee is almost split: seven Republicans who vote pretty consistently with the pro-life advocates, seven Democrats who usually vote pro-choice. Then there’s Senator Harry Blevins, a Republican who’s record is less absolute. Without Blevins’ vote, the bill would probably not make it out of committee. Neither Marshall nor Watts had a clear idea which way Blevins was leaning and the senator was unavailable for comment this afternoon.

Watts is hopeful the debate over her amendment specifically allowing birth control will highlight what’s at stake. “I think that my amendment being so clearly before the body really underscores what’s there,” she said. “Up until then, you could just obfuscate all this with a lot of verbiage.”

Meanwhile Marshall’s busy painting an almost inverse portrait of his bill. “People who are otherwise intelligent keep bringing up these red herrings,” he said, noting that “when it comes to sex a lot of people can’t think straight.” At least that’s something both sides can likely agree on.


By: Abby Rapoport, The American Prospect, February 14, 2012

February 15, 2012 Posted by | Abortion, Women's Health | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Real Romney”: Mitt Misled Voters On His Mom’s Abortion Stance

The new biography “The Real Romney” provides evidence that Mitt Romney has repeatedly mischaracterized his mother’s position on abortion rights. A previously unreported Lenore Romney quote in the book sheds light on Mitt Romney’s convoluted and changing position on the issue, as well as his family’s.

Both Steve Kornacki and I have delved deep into the Romney’s evolution on the issue, including the story of a young relative of Romney who died during an illegal abortion, which Romney once cited as a reason for his being pro-choice. His flip-flop on abortion rights continues to be a political problem, with Newt Gingrich currently running ads attacking Romney for having been a “pro-abortion” governor of Massachusetts.

Before we get to the previously unreported quote from Romney’s mother, here’s the context. Back when Romney was running for Senate as a pro-choice challenger to Ted Kennedy in 1994, he invoked his mother’s position on the issue in a debate.

“I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country; I have since the time that my mom took that position when she ran in 1970 as a U.S. Senate candidate,” Romney said, adding:

“I have my own beliefs, and those beliefs are very dear to me. One of them is that I do not impose my beliefs on other people. Many, many years ago, I had a dear, close family relative that was very close to me who passed away from an illegal abortion. It is since that time that my mother and my family have been committed to the belief that we can believe as we want, but we will not force our beliefs on others on that matter. And you will not see me wavering on that.”  (Emphasis added.)

Romney again invoked his mother’s “bold and courageous” position in a 2002 Massachusetts gubernatorial debate in which he said he was strongly in favor of preserving a woman’s right to choose.

“My position has been the same throughout my political career, and it goes back to the days of 1970,” he said. “There was a woman who was running for political office, U.S. Senate. She took a very bold and courageous stand in 1970, and that was in a conservative state. That was that a woman should have the right to make her own choice as to whether or not to have an abortion. Her name was Lenore Romney, she was my mom. Even though she lost, she established a record of courage in that regard.”

Romney’s claims about his mother later came under scrutiny when a Boston Globe columnist in 2005 interviewed people who were in the orbit of Lenore Romney’s 1970 Michigan Senate bid who had no memory of her being pro-choice. In response, Mitt Romney’s office dug up a campaign document from his mother’s campaign which stated:

“I support and recognize the need for more liberal abortion rights while reaffirming the legal and medical measures needed to protect the unborn and pregnant woman [sic].”

This was a few years before Roe v. Wade was decided, so that may well have been a progressive stance for the time. But, with its reference to protecting “the unborn,” it hardly seemed like a clear statement of support for legal abortion.

This is where the previously unreported Lenore Romney quote comes in. “The Real Romney” authors Michael Kranish and Scott Helman found a May 1970 story from a Owosso, Michigan, newspaper in which Lenore Romney says of the abortion issue:

“I think we need to reevaluate this, but do not feel it is simple as having an appendectomy. … I’m so tired of hearing the argument that a woman should have the final word on what happens to her own body. This is a life.”

If anything that statement — with its emphasis on women not having the final word — would most accurately be characterized as anti-choice. The irony is that Mitt Romney is now arguably closer to his mother’s actual 1970 position than he was when he ran as a pro-choice Senate candidate in 1994.


By: Justine Elliott, Salon, January 12, 2012

January 16, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mitt Romney: The Anti-Jobs Candidate

My friend Peter Daou had an item the other day, noting the potency of the Republican presidential frontrunner’s message: “Romney is a threat because he can focus on a dead simple message: ‘I’m a successful businessman, I’ll create jobs and fix the economy.’”

That’s exactly right. Mitt Romney, at least this latest version of him, has an entire campaign rationale that fits comfortably into a tweet. Better yet, it’s a message that voters are eager to hear.

Ed Kilgore had a related piece on this the other day, summarizing the argument that Romney and his backers are likely to push aggressively: “Romney has an extensive corporate background, looks the part of a CEO, and without question, he would prefer an issues environment focused on anything other than health care reform or the cultural issues on which he’s never inspired trust among conservatives.”

Romney doesn’t want to talk about health care or the fact that he was a pro-choice moderate who supported gay rights and gun control. Indeed, he would just as soon hope people forget he was even a governor. This is Businessman Mitt, running as a less ridiculous version of Herman Cain.

Kilgore’s argument is that this message is simple and straightforward, but it probably won’t help him in a competitive Republican primary. That’s compelling, but my take is a little different: I think Romney’s biggest problem is that the message brings to the fore his key weaknesses — Romney’s record on jobs is atrocious.

Stephen Colbert devoted a terrific segment to this the other day, highlighting Romney’s “real claim to business fame,” which is “founding a private equity company called BainCapital.” The embed won’t fit the column length of the redesigned website, but here’s heart of Colbert’s take:

“You see, Romney made a Mittload of cash using what’s known as a leveraged buyout. He’d buy a company with ‘money borrowed against their assets, groomed them to be sold off and in the interim collect huge management fees.’ Once Mitt had control of the company, he’d cut frivolous spending like jobs, workers, employees, and jobs. Just like America’s sweetheart, Gordon Gecko. […]

“Because Mitt Romney knows just how to trim the fat. He rescued businesses like Dade Behring, Stage Stories, American Pad and Paper, and GS Industries, then his company sold them for a profit of $578 million after which all of those firms declared bankruptcy. Which sounds bad, but don’t worry, almost no one worked there anymore.

“Besides, a businessman can’t be weighed down with a bleeding heart, as one former Bain employee put it, ‘It was very clinical…. Like a doctor. When the patient is dead, you just move on to the next patient.’ See? Mitt Romney is like a doctor! [On screen: Dr. Kevorkian]”

And this is the part of Romney’s record he’s most proud of. Romney slashed American jobs as if his career depended on it — and it did.

Complicating matters, during Romney’s only service in public office, his state’s record on job creation was “one of the worst in the country.” Adding insult to injury, “By the end of his four years in office, Massachusetts had squeezed out a net gain in payroll jobs of just 1 percent, compared with job growth of 5.3 percent for the nation as a whole.”

How bad is Romney’s record? During his tenure, Massachusetts ranked 47th out of 50 states in jobs growth.

Yes, Romney has a simple message: “I’m a successful businessman, I’ll create jobs and fix the economy.” It also comes with an equally simple response: “Mitt Romney is the anti-jobs candidate.”


By: Steve Benen, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly-Political Animal, June 12, 2011

June 12, 2011 Posted by | Bankruptcy, Businesses, Conservatives, Corporations, Economy, Elections, GOP, Ideologues, Ideology, Jobs, Mitt Romney, Politics, Republicans | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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