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TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Erica Sackin, Director of Political Communications, Planned Parenthood Action Fund
DATE: Tuesday, November 10, 2015
SUBJECT: Rubio’s Nonsensical Arguments on Abortion


It looks like Planned Parenthood Action Fund has finally found something to agree with Team Jeb! on --- Marco Rubio is too extreme on abortion to win a general election.

Fireworks are flying between the mentor and his former mentee ahead of tonight’s Fox Business debate, including multiple reports that the Super PAC supporting Jeb Bush is planning an attack on Marco Rubio for his extreme stance on abortion.

While this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black --- Jeb Bush himself is far too extreme on women’s issues to win a general election, thanks to Bush’s opposition to popular programs such as evidence-based sex education and funding for women’s health care; and his record of decimating women’s access to health care across the state of Florida. However, Rubio’s record is just as extreme --- opposing abortion without exceptions, supporting personhood legislation that would outlaw some forms of birth control, and even opposing equal pay for women.

Two-thirds of Americans support access to safe, legal abortion, and women’s access to health care has been a deciding issue in presidential elections --- contributing to Mitt Romney’s losing the 2012 election by the largest gender gap in history, according to Gallup. Even Rubio seems to sense that his stance on women’s health may be too extreme to carry over to the general election --- when asked about his stance, he often engages in verbal gymnastics to avoid articulating a firm stance on legislation related to women’s health.

Kittens, Donkeys, and no Exceptions --- Rubio’s Ridiculous Record on Women’s Health.

Kittens and Donkeys

Senator Rubio has gone to great lengths to avoid confirming his extreme stance on women’s health on camera, with some fairly humorous results. For example, in an interview on CNN, Marco Rubio responded to an inquiry into the non-scientific basis of his anti-abortion policy, stating:

“[Regarding a human embryo]...science has concluded, absolutely it has. What else can it be? It cannot turn into an animal. It can’t turn into a donkey. The only thing that becomes is a human being.”

Rubio even added a page to his website, emphasizing “a human life won’t become a donkey or a cat.”

Scientifically, we absolutely agree with him — it is unlikely if not impossible that a human embryo will develop into a cat or a donkey. However, by bringing that up as an example, we’re concerned Rubio may not be clear on how human pregnancy happens — and recommend he brush up on the basics.

The very real consequences of Rubio’s policies

While his words may be funny, Marco Rubio’s voting and legislative record paints a dreary picture of what Americans could expect from his proposed administration.

Throughout his political career, Marco Rubio has worked to:

  • Allow bosses to deny their employees insurance coverage for birth control.

  • Introduce legislation that would criminalize minors who are victims of rape and incest and attempt to cross state lines to get an abortion.

  • Block women from going to Planned Parenthood health centers for preventive health care, including lifesaving cancer screenings and affordable birth control.

  • Repeal the Affordable Care Act and its historic advancements for women.

  • Block legislation that would help women get equal pay for equal work.

  • Ban safe, legal abortion.

  • Limit and refuse rights  to immigrant families.  

  • Promise to make abortion illegal without exception  for rape or incest, and force a woman who is a victim of rape and incest to give birth.

Marco Rubio asserts that the right to life is so important that it trumps virtually any other right that I can imagine,” including the rights of the woman. Furthermore, in case there was any question, he has said  that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances, including rape and incest:

"I personally and deeply believe that all human life is worthy of the protection of our laws, I do. I believe that irrespective of the conditions by which that life was conceived or anything else, and for me to be consistent on that belief, that's why I feel so strongly about it."

And that’s not all --- Marco Rubio opposes safe and legal abortion in all cases, and has vowed  to fight against women’s access to care “even if 100 percent of my constituents were for it.”

A look at Jeb!’s own unsavory record.

Jeb might want to take his own campaign’s advice --- his own record is so extreme it’s hard to see how he’d be able to overcome it in a general election. Jeb Bush has made it clear that he doesn’t value women’s health care — while governor he funneled millions of taxpayer dollars into ineffective abstinence-only programs and cut funds for crucial family planning programs and teen pregnancy prevention programs, leaving Florida tied for last place when it comes to women’s health. He vetoed thousands of dollars for a breast health initiative for teens, cut funds for a cervical cancer task force, and slashed the budget of a program dedicated to teen pregnancy prevention. When asked a question on whether he supported the major bill aimed at eliminating the wage gap between men and women, he replied “What’s the Paycheck Fairness Act?”

Remember --- Americans support Planned Parenthood more than they support either Rubio or Bush.

The truth is that it’s both Rubio and Bush who are wildly out of touch with the public. Americans want women to have access to safe, legal abortion, and they don’t want to block Planned Parenthood from serving millions of patients across the country --- and that support hasn’t waivered. In fact, thirteen national polls conducted in the wake of a recent smear campaign show that Americans support Planned Parenthood. And a recent NBC-WSJ pol l shows that Planned Parenthood has a significantly higher favorability rating than any other group or individual tested including the U.S. Supreme Court, President Obama, both political parties, and key Republicans running for president --- including both Bush and Rubio.

Americans support access to safe, legal abortion.

  • A recent Bloomberg Politics national poll  found that 67% of Americans surveyed said Supreme Court was right to rule that women have a constitutional right to abortion.

  • Vox: More Americans now consider themselves pro-choice than pro-life.

  • 68 percent of Millennials don't want to see Roe v. Wade overturned. [Pew Research Center, 1/16/13]

  • 64 percent of voters younger than 30 said that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared with 58% of voters 30 and older. [Pew Research Center, 11/26/12]

  • Two-thirds (67 percent) of African Americans believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. [Public Religion Research Institute, 7/26/12]

  • A 2012 exit poll results show two-thirds of Latinos agreed abortion should be legal (66 vs. 28 percent who disagreed). In fact, Latino voters were more supportive of legal abortion than voters overall (59 percent overall supported legal abortion vs. 37 who disagreed). [ABC News, 11/12/12]

  • 72 percent of Republicans think abortion should be available. [New York Times/CBS News Poll, 2/14]

Women’s health was a deciding issue in the 2012 presidential election.

  • In 2012, Hart Research found that Mitt Romney and many Republican candidates’ views on women’s health were not only out of step with the majority of voters — they cost those Republicans in the election. [Hart Research, 11/6/12]

  • 62 percent of all voters disagreed with Romney’s position to end funding for Planned Parenthood’s health services, including 66 percent of women voters. [Hart Research, 11/6/12]

  • 61 percent of all voters (including 63 percent of women voters) disagreed with Romney’s position to overturn Roe v. Wade. [Hart Research, 11/6/12]

Support for women’s health is still a deciding issue for voters in swing states.

  • A Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research survey commissioned by NARAL and Planned Parenthood Action Fund in four key battleground states (CO, IA, NH, NC) found that a candidate’s support or opposition to women’s health was one of the most persuasive issues for voters. [Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, 11/11/14]

  • The most persuasive reason to vote against a candidate was the charge that he or she “opposes a woman's right to a safe, legal abortion in all circumstances, including rape, incest, and when the health of the woman is in danger.” [Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, 11/11/14]

  • Nearly six in ten voters reported that protecting women’s access to health care was a very important issue to them in deciding how to vote. [Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, 11/11/14]

  • Eighty-six percent said protecting women's access to cancer screenings and birth control was an important issue in their voting decision --- just as important as education and Social Security/Medicare. [Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, 11/11/14]

The chance to protect women’s health can help get unlikely voters to the polls.

  • According to an Anzalone Liszt Grove Research poll of voters in 18 battleground states, drop-off voters (who tend to vote in presidential years and stay home for midterm elections) are very motivated by the chance to vote against a candidate who would endanger women’s health. The poll was commissioned by Planned Parenthood Action Fund, EMILY’s List and American Women. [Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, 8/29/14]

  • 70% of progressive drop-off voters said they would be very motivated by the chance to vote against anti-choice politicians. [Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, 8/29/14]

  • After hearing messages on women’s health and economic security for women and families, the percent of voters who said they were neutral to unenthusiastic about voting plummeted from 23% to 12%. [Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, 8/29/14]

A majority of American voters support Planned Parenthood.  

  • A poll from NBC News/Wall Street Journal found 6 in 10 Americans say they're opposed to completely eliminating Planned Parenthood's federal fundingincluding more than 40 percent who are "strongly" opposed. The Sept 28 poll demonstrates that American attitudes about Planned Parenthood are virtually unchanged after extremists released a series of deceptively edited videos.

  • A poll from Hart research found that 64% of voters, including 72% of Independents, disagree with attempts to defund Planned Parenthood. Only 28% of voters support efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, and voters overwhelmingly say they would support a candidate who favors funding Planned Parenthood over a candidate who supports defunding the organization.

  • A recent YouGov poll found that a solid majority of Americans have a favorable view of Planned Parenthood virtually unchanged from a year ago. The poll found that more than a third of people who think abortion should be banned in all cases have a favorable view of Planned Parenthood.

  • A Reuters/Ipsos poll showed that a majority of Americans support federal funding for Planned Parenthood’s preventive services, and strongly oppose attempts to block millions of patients across the country from accessing care at Planned Parenthood’s health centers.

  • And a recent Fox News poll showed that voters agree that Planned Parenthood should continue to receive federal funding, even after the video attacks this summer. In addition, the Fox News poll found that more voters than not view Planned Parenthood positively.

  • A nationwide USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll found that two-thirds of Americans continue to support funding for Planned Parenthood.


About Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

Planned Parenthood affiliates provide health care to 2.7 million patients every year — including lifesaving cancer screenings, preventive health care, birth control, and abortion services. Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading women’s health provider and advocate. Planned Parenthood Action Fund works to ensure that people continue to have access to those health care and education services — by advocating for laws and policies that protect women’s health, and educating voters about how candidates’ positions would affect women’s health.

If you have any questions, please contact the Planned Parenthood Action Fund media line at [email protected].

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