May 2, 2012 (San Diego) – In the hotly contested 52nd Congressional district, incumbent Brian Bilbray is weathering attacks from opponents on both sides of the political aisle for his votes on women’s issues. With the Supreme Court just one vote away from overturning Roe vs. Wade (the decision legalizing abortion) and numerous bills assailing women's access to birth control and equal pay in Congress, women are expected to play a key role at the polls lin June.
Today, Democrat Lori Saldaña received endorsement from the National Organization for Women (NOW)--and assailed Bilbray's record.
“I look forward to working to elect more women for national office who will push back against the extremist anti-woman agenda in Washington," Saldaña said. She has blasted Bilbray for voting against the Fair Pay Act, women's healthcare access and other women's causes, noting, "This is part of an ongoing pattern by the Republicans to legislate against the interest of women and their families."
NOW president Terry O' Neill said. “She is also fiercely principled in her stands,” she said. “We endorsed Lori because we know she will stand for women in Congress," NOW president Terry O'Neill said. " “In the California Legislature, Lori Saldana has been a champion for policies that advanced the issues NOW cares about, including economic justice, reproductive rights, and addressing the epidemic of violence against women.” In the Assembly, Saldaña's votes earned her 100 percent ratings from California NOW, Planned Parenthood, NARAL and other women’s rights organizations. She has been endorsed by pro-choice groups Run Women Run and Emily’s List, as well as the San Diego Democratic Women’s Club.
She’s not the only one slamming Bilbray’s record on women’s issues.
“Brian Bilbray doesn’t support equal pay for women who do equal work,” Democrat Scott Peters has stated, likening Bilbray to Mitt Romney who has also pledged not to support equal pay legislation for women. “This is an amazing affront to women and equality.” Peters, a former Port Commissioner and San Diego Councilman, has been endorsed by prominent women legislators including Senator Christine Kehoe and Assemblymember Toni Atkins.
"When I go to Congress I will vehemently protect a woman's access to contraception and a woman's right to choose," Peters states on his webpage.
In 2009, Bilbray voted against HR 1338, which would have lifted a cap on damages that women can be awarded in wage discrimination cases. In 2007, he voted no on a bill to protect victims of wage discrimination, the Peters campaign has observed. (Both measures ultimately passed.)
That vote earned him a zero percent rating from the National Women’s Chamber of Commerce in 2007.
Bilbray has received generally dismal ratings from women’s rights groups through the years. Most recently he earned a zero from Planned Parenthood in 2010, but an 83 percent from the anti-abortion National Right To Life Committee in 2011 (the most recent years listed at Project Vote Smart: http://votesmart.org/candidate/evaluations/21916/brian-bilbray).
His Tea Party Republican opponent John Stahl, meanwhile, has assailed Bilbray as not conservative enough on abortion.
As for birth control, Bilbray has tried to portray himself as moderate. In a March 14, 2012 debate, he said “I want my daughters to have these choices; I don’t want Washington imposing themselves between them and their healthcare system” when asked if he supports health insurance coverage for women’s health care, specifically birth control.
In truth, however Bilbray's record is far more extreme.
He voted repeatedly to disqualify Planned Parenthood for all federal funds, even for breast cancer screenings and preventative health services, as well as birth control and abortion. He even voted for a bill dubbed by opponents as the “Let Women Die Act” that would have allowed hospitals to refuse emergency abortions for women whose lives were in immediate danger.