Women Won’t Let Richardson and Wehby Get Away with It

By Alicia Temple of Portland, Oregon. Alicia is the Program Manager for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon.

Gubernatorial candidate and State Representative Dennis Richardson claims abortion shouldn’t be a state issue. Senate candidate Monica Wehby claims abortion shouldn’t be a federal issue. Yet neither one has affirmed that a woman has a constitutional right to make personal medical decisions without the interference of politicians. Why should Oregon women trust them?

Let’s be clear: These Republicans have carved out a convenient position that allows them to play both sides of a serious issue. Regardless of what Richardson and Wehby might say on the campaign trail, reproductive freedom is under attack on the state level and on the federal level. Across the country, states have enacted more abortion restrictions in the past three years than in the previous decade. At the same time, Congress has prioritized a dangerous, unconstitutional abortion ban despite a veto threat from President Obama. And now they’re coming after birth control, which has widespread medical and economic benefits for women.

So we have to ask: Are Richardson and Wehby simply ignorant about this unprecedented effort to roll back the clock on women? Or are they deliberately pretending that it doesn’t exist?

Richardson must recognize that he has a terrible voting record for women’s health, because he’s already running from his past. According to an April news report, “Richardson said he…considers abortion law to be a federal issue, not one he’d deal with as governor.” He told The Oregonian: “My positions on social issues are my own. As governor, I will keep my oath to enforce the laws that are on the books.”

Actions speak louder than words:

Meanwhile, Senate hopeful Monica Wehby is also hoping to obscure her out-of-touch views on women’s rights. According to The Baker City Herald, she claimed at a candidate forum in January, “I believe [abortion] is a personal decision between a woman and her family, not a woman and the federal government.”

Despite her desperate attempt to appear moderate, Wehby is campaigning on a platform that is clearly wrong for Oregon women:

Clearly, Richardson and Wehby have taken a page from the national Republican playbook in trying to erase the “war on women” from memory. Just listen to former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, whose offensive remarks are the political equivalent of the playground taunt “I know you are, but what am I?” In January he told the Republican National Committee: “The Republicans don’t have a war ON women, they have a war FOR women…. Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido.”

The 2012 election was driven by a historic gender gap, and this year promises to be no different. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon will work tirelessly through November to educate voters about where candidates stand on the medical and economic issues that will affect their families. We will defend women’s health champions like Governor John Kitzhaber and Senator Jeff Merkley. And we will fight back against corporations coming between a woman and her doctor.

Oregon women have had enough of politicians who want to treat us like second-class citizens. We are watching and we are voting in 2014.

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