Women’s reproductive rights took center stage in the U.S. Senate race Monday, as a pro-choice group took aim at Republican candidate Linda McMahon over her support of a bill that would have allowed employers to refuse to cover contraception for their employees.
McMahon’s spokesman defended her as a “pro-choice” candidate who supports religious freedom.
Those salvos were issued Monday afternoon in dueling phone calls amid a tight race for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman. McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, faces Democrat Chris Murphy in a Nov. 6 general election. The campaigns have been vying for the support of female voters, who did not get behind McMahon in her 2010 Senate bid.
Click the play arrow to watch McMahon discuss contraception at a March press event.
In a Monday afternoon conference call hosted by Christian Miron, the director of the NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut, the state branch of the national pro-choice advocacy organization. Miron scored McMahon for saying she would have supported the Blunt amendment. The failed U.S. Senate bill would have allowed employers to refuse to cover contraception costs as part of employee health plans, based on moral or religious grounds.
Miron called it an “extremist” proposal, and said that McMahon’s support shows that she “cannot be trusted” to protect access to reproductive health care.
“A vote for Linda McMahon is a vote against reproductive rights and access” to women’s health care, Miron said.
On the issue of a woman’s right to choose, McMahon has “intentionally left her position vague,” Miron said. The only times that she has talked about reproductive freedom, it has been to espouse “extremist anti-choice policies,” he said.
NARAL has endorsed Murphy, a Congressman who represents the western part of the state. Miron said his press conference was not organized at the request of the Murphy campaign.
McMahon spokesman Todd Abrajano dismissed Miron’s charges.
“Linda McMahon is a pro-choice candidate,” he said. “Any attempt by Chris Murphy or his surrogates to paint her as anything but is ridiculous.”
“The Blunt amendment wasn’t about what Democrats will try to tell you it is about,” he said. For McMahon, it wasn’t about reproductive rights, he said. McMahon would have supported the Blunt Amendment on grounds of religious freedom and because she is opposed to federal “over-regulation,” Abrajano said.
The government should not be able to force people to pay for health care practices that go against their religious beliefs, Abrajano said.
The Blunt amendment wouldn’t deny women birth control, Abrajano argued. “There are plenty of other opportunities for women to get birth control,” he said. It’s available, for example, at Planned Parenthood for about “4 dollars,” he said.
“Linda is not opposed to birth control,” Abrajano said. She just thinks that the federal government shouldn’t force employers to provide it, he said. “Those are not mutually exclusive.”