Women's health a primary issue

Where do Tuesday's winners stand on abortion?

Published September 13, 2006 7:59PM (EDT)

What matters more, arguably, than how female candidates fared in Tuesday's primaries is how women's health seems to have fared as an issue. The Kaiser Family Foundation today offers a roundup. Herewith, the high- (and low) lights.

Arizona. John McCain-endorsed Len Munsil won the Republican gubernatorial primary. As former president of the conservative Center for Arizona Policy, he lobbied for various restrictions on abortion rights, including notarized parental consent, and helped draft a proposed constitutional amendment, coming soon to state ballot, that would define marriage as you-know-what. He supports legislation that would require women seeking abortions to be advised of the possibility of "fetal pain," and that would prohibit public funding for abortion. According to the Mojave Daily News, his opponents considered him "too extreme," and there is speculation that moderate voters will, too -- especially when he's pitted against seemingly secure incumbent Janet Napolitano (a fave of the feminist White House Project).

Maryland. Lt. Gov. Michael "Stem cell research is like Nazi experimentation on Jews" Steele, considered a "rising star" in his party, won the Republican primary for U.S. Senate. (He later amended his stem cell position somewhat and apologized for his remark, made during a Baltimore Jewish Council board meeting.) He will face Rep. Ben Cardin, who gets a "100 percent" pro-choice score from NARAL Pro-Choice America. This one's a biggie: According to the Baltimore Sun, "Republicans have seen the Maryland race as one of their few opportunities nationwide to recapture a Senate seat. Both parties are expected to target the contest with money and visits from national leaders. A Wall Street Journal/Zogby Poll released Monday showed Cardin beating Steele in a hypothetical matchup, 49.4 percent to 40.2 percent. But Steele had nearly double the cash on hand through the most recent reporting period."

New York. Abortion opponent John Spencer won the Republican primary for U.S. Senate over Kathleen Troia McFarland, who has said she supports abortion rights. Then again, he'll be running against Hillary. Also: Pro-choice Attorney General Eliot Spitzer won the Democratic gubernatorial primary over Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, who has been a little fuzzy on the issue. The real fun begins when Spitzer faces Republican attorney John Faso, who has called Roe v. Wade a "black mark upon this country."

Rhode Island. Incumbent Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee, who did us no favors with his vote on Justice Samuel Alito but who is otherwise considered an abortion-rights supporter, won the Republican primary over Cranston, R.I., Mayor Stephen Laffey. The election is also, at very least, considered a victory over a mysterious automated phone poll that regaled Chafee-leaning voters with graphic descriptions of an abortion procedure.

By Lynn Harris

Award-winning journalist Lynn Harris is author of the comic novel "Death by Chick Lit" and co-creator of BreakupGirl.net. She also writes for the New York Times, Glamour, and many others.

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