The word “abortion” was scarcely uttered during the 2010 U.S. Senate race but two years later, it is emerging as a major fault line between Democrat Chris Murphy and Republican Linda McMahon.
Murphy will hold a press conference on the topic just hours before Thursday night’s debate to highlight what he says are McMahon’s “extreme right-wing, anti-woman policies.”
Murphy will be joined by Nancy Keenan, the national president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, as well as his wife, Cathy Holahan, a former board president of NARAL’s Connecticut chapter.
It’s a theme Murphy has struck repeatedly in the past and the McMahon camp didn’t wait til his 3 p.m. presser was over to strike back. McMahon supports abortion rights and Murphy, by implying otherwise, is twisting her record, the campaign said in a press release.
“It is no surprise NARAL would support Chris Murphy, considering Murphy’s wife was formerly the board president of” the group’s state branch, said Kathy McShane, a McMahon supporter and chair of the Women for Linda coalition. “I respect NARAL’s right to endorse any candidate it chooses. However distorting Linda’s position and spreading falsehoods do nothing to advance its goal of protecting women’s access to healthcare and right to choose. Congressman Murphy is trying his hardest to convince voters that Linda is ‘anti-woman’ but lies, distortions and mistruths won’t change the facts.”
The Murphy campaign cites McMahon’s statements that she would have backed the Blunt Amendment, a failed proposal that would have permitted employers to avoid covering contraception and abortion services if doing so violated their religious beliefs. (McMahon has said repeatedly she believed the amendment was about religious liberty and “the overreach of government,” not about birth control and women’s health.)
Murphy also pointed to comments made by Peter Wolfgang, executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut and one of the state’s most prominent social conservatives. Wolfgang posted a comment on his personal Facebook page on Monday following McMahon’s announcement that she backs repeal of a federal law defining marriage as between a man and a woman. He said his endorsement of McMahon was “no longer accurate” in light of her new position on gay marriage but that he was still backing the Republican because “her victory could mean the end of Roe V. Wade,” the Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion in the U.S.
McMahon has repeated identified herself as “a pro-choice, independent woman.”