TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Melissa Reed, Vice President for Public Affairs, Planned Parenthood Health Systems Action Fund, for Planned Parenthood Votes
DATE: September 2, 2014
RE: Pre-Debate Memo: Thom Tillis Goes Too Far on Women’s Health and Rights
On Wednesday, September 3, women’s health champion Senator Kay Hagan will face off against North Carolina Speaker of the House Thom Tillis at the first of three planned debates in their campaign for U.S. Senate. With both local and national polls showing women’s health as a motivating voting issue, voters can expect Thom Tillis to try and obscure his dangerous and out-of-touch record and positions on women’s health. A new Suffolk University/USA Today poll shows that Sen. Kay Hagan is leading Thom Tillis by 18 points among women voters.
To hold him accountable, Planned Parenthood Votes will hold a rally outside the debate location starting at 6:00 pm. Planned Parenthood Health Systems Action Fund and Planned Parenthood Votes supporters and volunteers will attend wearing pink T-shirts and holding “Too Far Tillis” signs. Participants will be joined by Pillamina, a human-sized birth control pill pack. This is part of the Women are Watching campaign to engage and mobilize voters in support of women’s health this fall.
The reality is that Thom Tillis is on the side of extreme special interest groups and has a track record of interfering with personal, private medical decisions that should be left between a woman and her doctor. He opposes safe and legal abortion and helped force deeply unpopular abortion restrictions through the North Carolina General Assembly, tucking them into an unrelated motorcycle safety bill. The law could dramatically restrict the number of health centers that provide abortion in North Carolina. A poll from Elon University shows that in the wake of last summer’s attack spearheaded by Tillis, more people (44 percent) feel that state laws should make access to abortion less difficult compared with the 40 percent who said access should be made more difficult. This agenda is too extreme for North Carolina and it is too extreme for the U.S. Senate.
Thom Tillis is also opposed to increased access to birth control — the very thing that can prevent unintended pregnancy in the first place. He called the deeply unpopular Supreme Court ruling that gives bosses at corporations like Hobby Lobby the right to deny their employees access to birth control a victory, thinks states should have the right to ban birth control and is a supporter of so-called “personhood” efforts that would ban abortion and could even interfere with personal, private medical decisions relating to birth control, access to fertility treatment and management of miscarriage.
Planned Parenthood Votes has been running a robust voter education program in North Carolina — already knocking over 8,400 doors and making 84,000 phone calls to educate voters about the federal Senate race, while Planned Parenthood Health Systems Action Fund educates voters about state and local candidates. Combined, the groups plan to spend $3 million dollars in North Carolina — their largest ever investment in the state.
When Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Votes, visited Raleigh earlier this summer, she emphasized, “It’s the most important state in the country for us because of essentially what’s at stake.” She continued: “North Carolina is a moderate state. The positions that both Mr. Tillis has taken and some of the decisions by the state legislature are really out of step with where mainstream North Carolinians are.”
I’ve copied below a one-pager on Thom Tillis’ record and positions on women’s health. You can view women’s health “champ” and “chump” pages for the candidates here and here. For pre- and post-debate interviews and media inquiries, please contact me at 919-924-1520. You can reach Planned Parenthood Votes at 212-261-4433.
Thom Tillis: Out of Touch with North Carolina Women and Families.
Thom Tillis thinks bosses and politicians should decide whether you get access to affordable birth control: He praised the deeply unpopular Supreme Court ruling that gives bosses a permission slip to deny their employees access to birth control coverage, forcing women to go back to the days of paying up to $600 more a year, and he has said that states have the right to ban birth control. [News & Observer, 6/30/14; News & Observer, 01/31/14]
Thom Tillis would deny North Carolina women and families access to Planned Parenthood: He has repeatedly supported efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, ignoring the lifesaving preventive care like cancer screenings and STI testing that health centers provide to more than 25,000 women, men and young people in North Carolina. [Associated Press, 8/24/11]
Thom Tillis wants to go back to the days when insurance companies could charge women more for health care coverage: He endorsed a government shutdown over the ACA, costing taxpayers $24 billion and wants to go back to the days where women pay more for health insurance, or can be denied coverage for so-called “pre-existing conditions” like breast cancer or domestic abuse. [Charlotte Observer, 9/23/13]
Thom Tillis would impose his extreme beliefs about abortion on women and their families: He opposes safe and legal abortion and helped force deeply unpopular abortion restrictions through the North Carolina general assembly, tucking them into an unrelated motorcycle safety bill. He also worked to pass one of the most extreme mandatory ultrasound bills in the country – a measure designed to shame and judge women. [News & Observer, 7/11/13; Mother Jones, 7/29/13; Associated Press, 4/7/13]
Thom Tillis supports extreme and dangerous so-called “personhood” efforts: He has said that he supports efforts that would grant legal protections to a fertilized human egg, which could interfere with personal, private medical decisions about birth control, access to fertility treatment, management of a miscarriage, and access to safe and legal abortion. [News & Observer, 1/31/14]
Thom Tillis refuses to say whether he supports the Paycheck Fairness Act: Silence aside, Tillis’ record indicates that he doesn’t support equal pay for equal work. Tillis killed a bill at the state level aimed at correcting the pay disparity for North Carolina women, who continue to be paid 82 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts. [WRAL, 4/9/13; AAUW]