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The Planned Parenthood Action Fund released a new TV ad illustrating that the McCain-Palin ticket is dangerously out of touch when it comes to women’s health and women’s rights.

The TV ad, titled “Heartless,” highlights the fact that while Gov. Sarah Palin was mayor of Wasilla, the town required women to pay for their own rape examinations. [CNN, 9/22/08]

The TV ad also highlights Senator McCain’s vote against the Violence Against Women Act, a landmark bill that created new federal criminal penalties for domestic violence, and included provisions to end the practice of charging rape survivors for their own rape examinations by making states and cities ineligible to receive federal grant money if they charged rape survivors. [US Senate Roll Call Vote 295, 8/25/94]
“The McCain-Palin ticket is dangerously out of touch when it comes to women’s rights and women’s health care,” said Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “On top of his 125 votes against women’s health, John McCain’s opposition to the Violence Against Women Act is yet another example that he is out of touch when it comes to women’s health and women’s rights.”

The New York Times writes, “The rape-kit controversy is a troubling matter. The insult to rape victims is obvious. So is the sexism inherent in singling them out to foot the bill for investigating their own case. And the main result of billing rape victims is to protect their attackers by discouraging women from reporting sexual assaults.” [New York Times, 9/25/08]

Various media reports state that rape kits at the time cost between $300 and $1200, a substantial cost to pass on to rape survivors. 

According to CNN, “Former state Rep. Eric Croft, a Democrat, sponsored a state law requiring cities to provide the examinations free of charge to victims. He said the only ongoing resistance he met was from Wasilla, where Palin was mayor from 1996 to 2002. … [State Rep Croft] said victims' advocates suggested he introduce legislation as a way to shame cities into changing their practice, and Wasilla resisted.”  [CNN, 9/22/08]
According to the New York Times, “[Palin’s] campaign would not answer questions about when she learned of the policy, strongly supported by the police chief: whether she saw it in the budget and if not, whether she learned of it before or after the State Legislature outlawed the practice.” [New York Times, 9/25/08]

As recently as last night, Sarah Palin continued to show how out of touch she is when it comes to women’s health and women’s rights. In an interview with CBS News’ Katie Couric, Palin said she would oppose abortion even in the cases of rape and incest. [CBS Evening News, 9/30/08]

An editorial in today’s Boston Globe says, “One question that Sarah Palin should answer during tomorrow's debate is why, during her tenure as mayor of Wasilla, the town started charging rape victims or their insurers for hospital emergency-room rape kits and examinations. …Palin has never explained why, under her leadership, the town stopped picking up the cost of the swabs, specimen containers, and tests.” [Boston Globe, 10/1/08]

According to a FOX News poll from October 2007, the vast majority of Americans, 70 percent, support abortion in the cases of rape and incest.

The ad will air in the St. Louis (MO), Madison (WI), Milwaukee (WI), and DC/Northern Virginia media markets.

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