By Miriam Raftery
August 27, 2012 (San Diego)—Democrat Scott Peters’ Congressional campaign has issued a press release blasting his opponent, Republican Brian Bilbray, for a record on women’s rights and choice that “closely mirrors Mr. Akin’s,” Peters’ communications director MaryAnn Pintar said.
Rep. Todd Akin has drawn fire for claiming that pregnancy resulting from “legitimate rape” is rare—a claim debunked by medical professionals. He also coauthored a bill that would ban all abortions, even for rape victims and women whose life is in danger, by declaring that life begins at conception.
Although Akin’s position closely parallels the Republican party’s new platform calling for abortions to be outlawed, his remarks on rape victims were viewed as so extreme that Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and other prominent Republicans have called on Akin to step down from his campaign for U.S. Senate.
Bilbray did not author or vote for the life-begins-at-conception bill.
“The fact is, Congressman Bilbray supports a woman’s right to choose,” Bilbray aide Stephen Puetz told the UT San Diego.
But Bilbray has voted repeatedly to limit women’s access to reproductive health services. He voted several times to eliminate all funding for Planned Parenthood, whose services include providing women with birth control, wellness checks, and screenings for breast, ovarian and cervical cancer.
By contrast, Peters has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood and earned a 100% rating from the group for his consistent record to protect women’s access to reproductive health care. He has also been endorsed by prominent pro-choice women elected officials.
In addition, Bilbray voted for HR 358, which would deny women access to life-saving procedures by allowing health service providers to place “moral considerations above medical considerations,” Peters’ press release noted.
Bilbray also voted for HR 4970, which denied equal protections to Native American and immigrant women under the Violence Against Women Act.
“Their similarities don’t stop there,” said Pintar, who calls Bilbray a “Tea Party extremist.” Since 2007, Representatives Bilbray and Akin have voted together 90% of the time on more than 4,000 votes, she said. “It’s pretty tough to call yourself a moderate when your voting record is almost identical to someone who is being lambasted by his own party for his radical, extremist rhetoric.”