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Elections & Politics

Memo: AK-SEN GOP field dangerous for women

Contact: Planned Parenthood Action Fund Media Office, 212-261-4433

For Immediate Release: 08.07.14

TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Jessica Cler, Alaska Public Affairs Manager at Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest
DATE: Wednesday, August 6, 2014
RE: Questions for Dan “Slippery” Sullivan

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In the coming days, Dan Sullivan will continue to face off against Joe Miller and Mead Treadwell at a series of GOP debates in advance of the August 19 Republican primary for U.S. Senate. This is a critical opportunity for voters in Alaska to hear from the candidates exactly where they stand on issues important to women’s health and rights. While Miller and Treadwell have been steadfast in their dangerous positions — Sullivan has been more slippery, dodging questions left and right.

For example, during a candidate forum on April 25, voters heard loud and clear from Joe Miller when he stated his steadfast support for the Life at Conception Act, a so-called personhood effort introduced by conservative leader Rand Paul in the U.S. Senate that could end access to safe and legal abortion in the United States. When pushed, Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell said he “will support legislation that supports the definition of life beginning at conception.” The third Republican contender, Dan Sullivan, dodged the question and said he needed time to read the bill. Alaska voters are now left confused, especially since his campaign website states: “life begins at conception and we must fight to protect the lives of the unborn.”

To encourage Dan Sullivan to clarify his position and finally read the Life at Conception Act, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest (PPVNW) sent his office a copy of the bill in May, with a request that he make clear for Alaska voters exactly where he stands. Months later, a clear response has still yet to be made. (Click here for a copy of the mailed letter and click here for a copy of the bill.)

To hold him accountable and to encourage voters to ask Sullivan the tough questions, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, alongside Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, has launched a new effort called “Slippery Sullivan.”

You can view the graphic “5 Things Less Slippery Than Dan Sullivan” here

You can follow the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #SlipperySullivan.

There is too much on the line for slick politicians to obscure their positions. Women across the country are facing mounting political attacks on the preventive care that Planned Parenthood provides to one in five women in her lifetime. Two recent Supreme Court rulings came down on the side of corporations and puts the rights of protesters and bosses above women and their families. More than half of American women of reproductive age now live in states where access to abortion is being restricted by their state legislatures.

Now is the time for Sullivan to make clear for voters exactly where he stands.

Despite his attempt to appear moderate, Dan Sullivan shares the same outdated and unpopular positions on women’s health as Miller and Treadwell. They’ve all sought the endorsement of the Alaska Family Action, who said in an email to supporters in advance of their debate Monday: “You'll notice there is not much difference.” (See responses to their candidate questionnaire here).

  • All three candidates support overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade, which asserted a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion. They oppose the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would guarantee protections from the onslaught of unconstitutional attacks on abortion being pushed forward at the state level.
    • The majority of Americans believe that a woman and her doctor, not politicians, should be making health care decisions. Six in ten Millennials believe abortion should be available in all or most cases, similar to other generations, but Millennials are more likely to support access in their own community: 68 percent believe abortion should be available in their community, compared to 60 percent of boomers and only 42 percent of seniors.
    • Polling from the 2012 election shows that access to safe and legal abortion, affordable birth control, and basic health care access are motivating voting issues for women, who view them as core economic issues for their families. An overwhelming majority of women voters trust Planned Parenthood political and advocacy organizations when they speak out about issues affecting the health of women.
       
  • They all support a nationwide 20-week abortion ban bill, which if enacted, would restrict a woman’s ability to make personal, private medical decisions with her doctor and would criminalize doctors seeking to provide constitutionally protected care.
    • Last summer, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a national organization representing thousands of women’s health experts, came out against these types of abortion restrictions, reinforcing that they are dangerous to patients’ health and safety.
    • Abortion bans like this one are deeply unpopular, with polling from Hart Research Associates showing that when voters understand the real-world circumstances surrounding abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, they overwhelmingly oppose laws that would ban the procedure at that stage. A strong majority of voters — Republicans (62 percent), Democrats (78 percent), and Independents (71 percent) —  say this is the wrong issue for Congress and their state legislators to be spending time on.
       
  • They all support efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, taking away the preventive care, including cancer screenings and birth control, that health centers provide to one in five women in her lifetime.
    • More than 90 percent of the services Planned Parenthood health centers provide are preventive (cancer screenings, STD tests, birth control, etc.) to women like Emily F., from Alaska who wrote: “At the age of 22 I moved to a large city far from home.  When I started feeling a mass growing in my abdomen, the only place where I knew I could quickly, easily, and affordably access health care was Planned Parenthood.  They correctly diagnosed an ovarian tumor and ensured that I got the treatment I needed as quickly as possible.  As a result, the doctors were able to save my other ovary.  Every day I look at my three beautiful children I am thankful for Planned Parenthood.”
    • Seventy-nine percent of Planned Parenthood health care patients have incomes of 150 percent within the federal poverty level or less, the equivalent of $34,575 a year for a family of four in 2012.
    • According to the Guttmacher Institute, for every dollar spent on family planning, nearly $6 in public money is saved.
       
  • They all support the deeply unpopular Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby, which gives bosses the legal right to deny employees access to birth control coverage in their insurance plans.
    • In 2010, 37,400 women in Alaska were in need of publicly supported contraceptive services and supplies. Thanks to the new healthcare law, 106,000 women across the state now have access to birth control without a copay.
    • Studies show that increased access to contraception reduces the rate of abortion.   For example, women who receive birth control with no copay or at a reduced cost are able to avoid more than two million unplanned pregnancies each year, which also reduces the need for abortion.
    • Access to contraception has been shown to help women successfully pursue higher education and become established in professional careers, both stepping stones to achieving economic stability for themselves and their families. Women like Mercedes P. from Fairbanks, who wrote: “Just being able to choose when you are ready to have children allows you to pursue an education, build a life, and be a better parent and member of society.” Teresa F., a Catholic from Bethel, who wrote: “I believe that in this day and age, we can help plan our futures. With access to birth control, it helps us and others ensure a successful future for everyone.” Or, Elizabeth C., a mother from Anchorage who wrote: “My health insurance is now required to cover all the preventive care for my daughters and me. I no longer spend $1500-2000 per year just to find out we are healthy. I was able to pay for much needed dental work instead.”
    • Emphasizing the important role birth control will play in midterm elections this November, 57 percent of women voters say they would be more likely to support a candidate who opposes allowing employers to refuse to cover birth control.

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Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.