Free Lance-Star reporter Chelyen Davis covers Virginia government.
Kaine ad says Allen would reverse Roe v. Wade and limit contraception
U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine, aiming to strengthen a polling lead among women voters, is out today with a new ad accusing rival George Allen of wanting to restrict women’s reproductive choices.
The ad shows a woman, called “Virginia” in the ad, standing on-screen while a woman’s voice says Allen voted to “reverse” Roe v. Wade, supported an amendment to let employers choose not to cover contraception in their employees’ health insurance, and stayed mum during the Virginia legislature’s fight over a bill requiring women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion. It also says Allen opposed the 1992 Family Medical Leave Act and notes that he has not come out to support an equal pay for women bill in Congress.
Such issues have come up several times in the race between Democrat Kaine and Republican Allen, and have been much in the news this year in Virginia, due largely to bills in the General Assembly in its session early this year.
One of those was the ultrasound bill — it drew national attention from the likes of the Daily Show — which passed.
Lawmakers narrowly punted to next year a “personhood” bill that declares life begins at conception; opponents say it could impact birth control. Allen has said he favors a federal personhood bill, although he also says he doesn’t want to limit women’s access to contraception.
Kaine has pursued the issue, arguing in debates that women’s health issues are also economic ones.
The ad’s accusation that Allen voted to reverse Roe v. Wade comes from a 2003 Senate amendment that “would express the sense of the Senate that the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing abortion in Roe v. Wade was correct and should not be overturned.” According to the ad’s documentation, that amendment passed by a 52-46 vote, but Allen voted against it.
The claim that Allen would let employers deny contraceptive coverage to workers in their health plans is one Kaine’s campaign has made before, and comes from his support for the “Blunt Amendment,” a proposal from Sen. Roy Blunt earlier this year to let employers and health insurance companies decline to offer coverage for birth control. Blunt proposed it in the wake of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that birth control and other preventive services be covered by insurance without co-pays.
On the ultrasound bill, the ad says Allen didn’t take a position — the bill was a state bill, not one in which Allen or Kaine would have a role.
While polls show a very close race between the two candidates, they also show Kaine with a lead among women voters.
Update: Allen response:
The Allen campaign said in a press release that Kaine’s ad ignores the high unemployment rate for women, which it attributes to Democratic policies.
“George Allen believes that every woman has the right to use contraceptives if she chooses, Tim Kaine knows that,” said Allens spokeswoman Emily Davis. ” This is just a desperate attempt by Tim Kaine to divert attention from his record of putting his partisan job as DNC Chair ahead of the jobs of Virginians.”