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“Current Law, But Not Settled Law”: Rubio Not Done Fighting Against Marriage Equality

For a presidential candidate who’s often preoccupied with his youth and reputation for looking forward, Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) policy vision can be strikingly regressive.

Marriage equality, for example, is already the law of the land in the United States, but Right Wing Watch flagged Rubio’s new interview with Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, where the senator made clear he’s not done fighting against equal marriage rights, calling the status quo “current law,” but “not settled law.”

“If you live in a society where the government creates an avenue and a way for you to peacefully change the law, then you’re called on to participate in that process to try to change it – not ignoring it, but trying to change the law.

 “And that’s what we’re endeavoring to do here. I continue to believe that marriage law should be between one man and one woman.”

For most of the country, there’s a realization that there is no credible proposal to turn back the clock. Rubio didn’t elaborate on how, exactly, he wants to “change the law” to prevent same-sex couples from getting married, and if he tried, he’d likely fail.

But the key here is understanding just how far the Florida senator is willing to go with the culture war. For Rubio, it’s still not too late to bring back discriminatory marriage laws.

And then, of course, there are reproductive rights, where Rubio still intends to be the most far-right major-party presidential nominee of the modern era.

As regular readers know, Rubio’s position on abortion is that it must be outlawed – without exception. If a woman is impregnated by a rapist, for example, Rubio believes the government has the authority to force that woman to take that pregnancy to term, whether she wants to or not.

This came up in a recent interview with the New Yorker.

On several issues, Rubio has taken a position that suits the faithful in the primaries but is guaranteed to repel voters in a general election. His most obvious vulnerability is on abortion. In the first Republican debate, Rubio said that his opposition to abortion extends to cases of rape or incest – a position at odds with that of more than three-quarters of Americans. [Democratic strategist David] Axelrod told me, “No exceptions is a position so extreme that no Republican candidate has ever held it. Presidential races are defined by moments. Maybe he will try to amend that position, but in the age of video it’s hard to extinguish a declarative statement like that.”

When I asked Rubio about it, he said, somewhat confusingly, “Look, I personally believe that all life is worthy of protection, and therefore I don’t ever require, nor have I ever advocated, that I won’t support a law unless it has exceptions.” After some more twists and turns, I sensed that we had reached the line he plans to use in a general election: “My goal is to save as many lives as possible, and I’ll support anything that does that. Even if it has exceptions.”

This led to some confusion, prompting Rubio to clarify matters in an interview yesterday with the Associated Press. “I, as president, will sign a bill that has exceptions,” he said. “I’ve supported bills that have exceptions.” The senator added, “I do not personally require a bill to have exceptions – other than life of the mother – in order for me to support it. But I will sign a bill as president that has exceptions.”

Here’s the bottom line: if a Republican Congress sends President Rubio an anti-abortion bill, he’ll sign it, even if it includes some exceptions he personally disagrees with. When it comes to abortion restrictions, he’ll take what he can get and then fight for more.

But as far as what Rubio actually, personally wants U.S. policy to be, he’s opposed to exceptions, even in cases of rape and incest – a position further to the right than any Republican nominee since Roe was decided more than 40 years ago.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, November 25, 2015

November 27, 2015 Posted by | Marco Rubio, Marriage Equality, Reproductive Rights | , , , , , | 4 Comments

“Whose Positions Are ‘Extreme”?: Marco Rubio, ‘A Woman Has A Right To Choose’, But Not Really

A few years ago, shortly before Election Day 2014, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) realized he was struggling with women voters and he worried about whether the gender gap would derail his campaign. Walker responded with a TV ad in which, in the context of the abortion debate, the governor defended leaving these decisions “to a woman and her doctor.”

Substantively, the rhetoric was ridiculous – it reflected the exact opposite of Walker’s policy agenda – but the Republican candidate saw value in trying to use his rivals’ phrasing to make his own far-right policies sound more mainstream.

BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski reported the other day on a similar tactic adopted by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

“Again, terrible tragedy what happened in Oregon, but you’re right, every single year unborn in this country are killed legally, through laws that allow that to happen,” Rubio said when radio host Glenn Beck asked him to respond to Hillary Clinton’s comments on the Oregon shooting, which Beck used to pivot to the issue of abortion.

“Look, I recognize this is tough issue and I actually do believe that a woman has a right to choose with her body,” he added. “The problem is that when there’s a pregnancy, there’s another life involved and that life has a right to live. And so, as policymakers we have to choose between two competing rights, and I’ve chosen as a matter of principle to choose life in that debate.”

First, it’s a lingering mystery why we still see competitive candidates for the nation’s highest office associating themselves with Glenn Beck, chatting about who they see as radical, without appreciating the irony.

Second, it’s jarring for Rubio, who’s been a consistent far-right voice on issues such as abortion and contraception access, boast that he “actually” does “believe that a woman has a right to choose with her body” – though he’s comfortable pursuing an agenda to curtail and restrict that right.

The Florida senator added that Hillary Clinton “has extreme positions” when it comes to reproductive rights.

Rubio has argued more than once in recent months that if a woman is impregnated by a rapist, the government has the authority to force her to take the pregnancy to term, regardless of her wishes.

How eager is he, exactly, for a debate about whose positions are “extreme”?

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, October 12, 2015

October 14, 2015 Posted by | Marco Rubio, Women Voters, Women's Health | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Rubio Reminds Voters”: Fertilized Human Eggs Don’t Become Cats

Hillary Clinton fielded some questions from campaign reporters yesterday, and not surprisingly, she was asked about Donald Trump. But the Democratic frontrunner clearly had a different group of Republicans on her mind.

“I think if we focus on [Trump’s antics], we’re making a mistake,” she said. “What a lot of the men on that stage in that debate said was offensive.” Highlighting Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) recent comments on prohibiting all abortions, regardless of circumstances, Clinton added, “[T]he language [Trump uses] may be more colorful and more offensive, but the thinking, the attitude toward women, is very much the same.”

She went on to say. ‘What Marco Rubio said has as much of an impact in terms of where the Republican Party is today as anybody else on that stage.”

It’s an important point. Rubio has now argued, more than once, that if a woman is impregnated by a rapist, the government has the authority to force her to take the pregnancy to term, regardless of her wishes. For Clinton, this matters every bit as much – if not more – than Trump’s ugly remarks about Fox’s Megyn Kelly.

For his part, Rubio seems to think he has a winner on his hands. Yesterday, the far-right Floridian, using social media and his campaign website, even launched a new initiative, alongside a big picture of a cat:

“Watch this video and sign this petition if you know that a human life won’t become a donkey or a cat.”

Yes, Marco Rubio, who last week seemed to adopt the posture of some kind of wonk, is now pushing a bold, new campaign message: fertilized human eggs don’t develop into cats.

As for the video Rubio is eager for the public to see, Slate’s Amanda Marcotte has the backstory:

When Rubio appeared on CNN after Thursday night’s Republican debate, he kept insisting that this vague entity called “science” has declared that human life begins at conception. (Actual biologists, for what it’s worth, argue that life is continuous and that a fertilized egg is no more or less alive than a sperm or an unfertilized egg.) CNN host Chris Cuomo vainly tried to point out that “science” says no such thing, and Rubio got a little excited.

“Let me interrupt you. Science has – absolutely it has. Science has decided… Science has concluded that – absolutely it has. What else can it be?” he asked. Then Rubio reared up for what he clearly intended as his wowza line: “It cannot turn into an animal. It can’t turn into a donkey. The only thing that that can become is a human being.”

Rubio, clearly pleased with himself, added, “[If scientists] can’t say it will be human life, what does it become, then? Could it become a cat?”

When Rubio’s website says “watch this video,” it shows the interview in its entirety.

Just so we’re clear, not even the most ardent pro-choice advocates believe fertilized human eggs could become a cat. They do believe, however, that there’s a difference between people and fertilized human eggs that might someday become people – in much the same way we differentiate between acorns and trees. What something is and what something may become under the right conditions are not identical.

Nevertheless, the far-right Floridian seems quite excited about his argument. He’ll have to hope it’s persuasive to a broad audience – Rubio’s no-abortions/no-exceptions position is further to the right than any Republican presidential nominee in the modern era.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, August 11, 2015

August 14, 2015 Posted by | Marco Rubio, Reproductive Choice, Women's Health | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“I Don’t Believe Bush Misspoke”: The Phony, Unprincipled War On Planned Parenthood

With one careless comment, Jeb Bush revealed a fundamentally indifferent attitude toward half the U.S. electorate.

“I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues,” he said in a speech at the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, Tennessee.

It was a throwaway aside in a longer blather about defunding Planned Parenthood, and one imagines that no sooner were the words out of his mouth than his cringing consultants were drafting a clarification.

The inevitable statement soon followed, admitting he “misspoke” and adding that “there are countless community health centers, rural clinics and other women’s health organizations that need to be fully funded.”

Too late. The game was on. Hillary Clinton blasted back, “When you attack women’s health, you attack America’s health.”

I don’t believe Bush misspoke. There’s something about abortion he wishes to ignore: Abortion is a women’s health issue. You cannot separate abortion from this context.

Oppose it or not — and I do — abortion is a medical procedure that ends an unwanted or health-threatening pregnancy. If we want to encourage the trend toward decreasing numbers of abortions in this country — and no one in their right mind wants to see more of them — we need to bolster women’s reproductive health services. That means ensuring wide access to sex education and contraceptives. (It also means honestly admitting that an overwhelming majority of Americans accept that abortion should be permitted when a pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, or when the health of the mother is threatened.)

If you oppose abortion and you’re not ready to promote the most effective ways of preventing unwanted pregnancies, you’re not serious. If you call for “defunding” Planned Parenthood — as virtually the entire Republican Party does — you are attacking a leading purveyor of contraceptives and information about how to use them for women of limited economic resources. You’re also threatening to shut down 700 clinics that provide crucial preventative health measures like pap smears and refer women for mammograms.

About 85 to 90 percent of Planned Parenthood’s work is providing these basic health services, often to low-income women without access to health insurance. That’s according to analysis of the organization done by PolitiFact. Abortions add up to about 3 percent of the organization’s services, and they are not funded with federal money.

A recent vote in the U.S. Senate to defund Planned Parenthood, which failed, called for redirecting the monies to other women’s health facilities that did not provide abortions. The problem is that there are far too few such clinics to meet the need. Moreover, the effort misunderstands how Planned Parenthood receives $528 million annually: mostly through Medicaid reimbursements and competitive Title X family planning grants.

The plain truth is that the Republicans who wish to destroy Planned Parenthood — and Bush is far from the most vociferous — really don’t care that the bulk of its work has nothing to do with abortion. Nor do they care about standards of accuracy in the accusations they make against the organization.

They have worked hand in glove with the Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion group inspired by the ethically dubious video techniques of conservative activist James O’Keefe. This group set up a phony front company and then lured Planned Parenthood officials into secretly videotaped conversations about providing fetal tissue for research. The group then released videos selectively edited to suggest that Planned Parenthood was in the illegal business of selling fetal tissue.

The bogusness of this charge is patently obvious when one views the unedited tapes, but that matters little to GOP opportunists, who promise all sorts of congressional inquisitions.

Fine. Hold hearings. See what you find. My guess is that it will be zilch (See: Benghazi).

Meanwhile, the American public needs to know that these new anti-abortion activists are picking up the cudgels of the folks that brought us the so-called Summer of Mercy protests that required federal marshals to restore order in Wichita, Kansas, in the 1990s. Tactics used to include clinic bombings and harassing any woman who set foot near a clinic, regardless of what services she might be seeking.

That phase of the movement failed, although it never went away. In 2009, Kansas abortion doctor George Tiller was shot dead at his church.

Pro-life activists have figured out that it’s better to co-opt the Republican Party than to engage in terrorism. That’s progress. Unfortunately, disingenuous attacks on women’s health care purely to court votes do no favors to either women or unborn babies.

 

By: Mary Sanchez, Opinion Page Columnist, The Kansas City Star; The National Memo, August 12, 2015

August 13, 2015 Posted by | Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, Planned Parenthood, Women's Health | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Judgment Of A Woman’s Value”: Republicans Make Their Incredibly Unpopular Abortion Position Crystal Clear

With all the talk about Donald Trump and Megyn Kelly, people might not have noticed that there was quite a bit of discussion of abortion in Thursday’s Republican debate, and that discussion is continuing through today. While it wouldn’t be accurate to say the party and its candidates are moving to the right, what’s happening is that they’re making clear just how far to the right they are.

One moment in the debate that may have struck some as odd occurred when Marco Rubio got a question about him supporting exceptions for rape and incest victims to abortion bans, and he insisted that he supports no such thing. Mike Huckabee declared that “I think the next president ought to invoke the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution now that we clearly know that that baby inside the mother’s womb is a person at the moment of conception.” Scott Walker went even further, stating his opposition to exceptions to save the life of the pregnant woman (“I’ve said many a time that that unborn child can be protected, and there are many other alternatives that can also protect the life of that mother”). Walker recently signed a ban on abortions after 20 weeks, which did contain an exception to save the life of the mother, but no exceptions for rape or incest.

This is a deeply unpopular position, to say the least. When pollsters ask whether people think that rape and incest victims should be able to get abortions, more than 80 percent will say yes, including majorities of Republicans (there are some examples here). Between 60 and 70 percent are against overturning Roe v. Wade, a position on which Republicans are united. And the GOP platform has for some time called for a complete ban on abortion without any exceptions.

Rubio in particular is attempting to take a radical position and present it as the soul of thoughtful moderation. Yesterday, he went on “Meet the Press” and clarified that he has supported legislation with rape and incest exceptions because “I’ll support any legislation that reduces the number of abortions,” and if that means voting for a ban that contains those exceptions, he’ll go along. But I don’t think Rubio is quite telling the truth on that point. For instance, I doubt he’d support legislation that mandates comprehensive and fact-based sex education and does away with the farce of “abstinence only” — which would absolutely reduce the number of abortions. What he really means is that he’ll support any legislation that reduces abortion by restricting women’s reproductive rights.

Even though I’m firmly pro-choice, I’ll grant that Rubio (and the party itself) is being intellectually consistent by opposing rape and incest exceptions to abortion bans. If you think abortion is murder, then you should believe it’s murder no matter what led to a woman becoming pregnant. When you say we’ll make exceptions for rape and incest victims, what you’re saying is that whether a woman is able to get an abortion should be a function of someone else’s judgment of her virtue. If she got pregnant because she was the victim of a crime, then okay, she can have the abortion. But if she willingly had sex, then she should be punished by being forced to carry her pregnancy to term.

If Rubio is at all different from other members of his party, it’s only in his tone. Here’s what he said when Chuck Todd asked where the line is between the fetus’ rights and those of the woman:

That’s why this issue is so hard. There is no doubt that a woman has a right to her own body, has a right to make decisions about her own health and her own future. There’s no doubt. And there’s this other right, and that’s the right of a human being to live. And these rights come into conflict when it comes to this issue, and so you have to make a decision. And it’s hard. I don’t say it’s easy. Listen, you’re 15 years old, and you become pregnant, and you’re scared, and you have your whole life ahead of you, and you’re facing this, that is a hard situation. I tell people all the time, don’t pretend this is easy. This is a difficult question. But when asked to made a decision between two very hard circumstances, I’ve personally reached the conclusion that if I’m going to err, I’m going to err on the side of life.

There’s a lot of empathetic language there, but here’s the substantive difference between Marco Rubio and other Republicans on this issue: Other Republicans won’t even acknowledge that women have any right to control their own reproductive lives, while Rubio says women have such a right, but believes that in practice that right should always be trumped by the state’s desire to force her to carry that pregnancy to term. Which means that he doesn’t actually believe her right exists. He sounds a lot friendlier when he says it, though.

I’m sure he hopes that will be enough to overcome the fact that he’s taking a position most Americans disagree with. And in the right circumstances, it might be — so long as this isn’t an important issue on Election Day, and Democrats aren’t making too much of a big deal about all that “war on women” stuff. Republicans probably shouldn’t count on that, though.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, August 10, 2015

August 11, 2015 Posted by | Abortion, Marco Rubio, Womens Rights | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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