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December 15, 2017

Begich – “If you’re pro-choice, you’re pro-choice.”

“There is no middle ground,” says Alaska Democratic Senator Mark Begich when asked about his firm pro-choice stance. “I’ve never run from these issues. I can’t speak for other Democrats, I just know where I’m at. These are not issues that I run from. People know where I stand.”

That might not be a controversial position for a Democrat in California, or New York, but in a state that’s voted for a Republican president every cycle since the Johnson administration, it sounds like a risk.

Alaska carries a mere 3 electoral votes, and with the notable exception of a certain VP nominee in 2008, Alaskans are used to being politically irrelevant on the national stage.  Now, six years after Palin, Alaska may matter in the big picture.

Republicans need to net a total of six seats to gain control of the Senate in November. Here’s where it gets interesting.

Number crunching prognosticator Nate Silver now projects Republicans having a slight advantage in the bloody battle for Senate majority. Here are the odds in the seven races which, according to Silver, are the closest.

5050

With incumbent Democrat Mark Begich’s race a virtual coin toss, it becomes understandable that suddenly the attention of every media outlet from MSNBC to Breitbart.com is laser focused on the Last Frontier.

It isn’t yet determined, nor will it be until August 19, who will square off against Begich in November. In an increasingly tight GOP primary race, popular wisdom says run hard to the right.

Although Alaska is often thought of as red to the core, the state has its roots in libertarianism and is the only state with a specific constitutional privacy clause. Privacy arguments legalized abortion in Alaska three years before Roe v. Wade. The first act of the Alaska Territorial Legislature gave women the right to vote in 1913, seven years before the ratification of the 19th amendment which gave women across the country that right.

Margaret Vale Howe, niece of President Wilson, at a New York Suffrage Parade in 1915. Alaska women had the right to vote two years before.

Margaret Vale Howe, niece of President Wilson, at a New York Suffrage Parade in 1915. Alaska women had the right to vote two years before.

Alaska isn’t easy to peg as a truly “red” state by Lower 48 standards. Overall, the state is pro-choice, but the social issues pendulum has quietly swung to the right in the past decade. Now Begich and other Democrats are hoping it has crossed the magic line, and that voters will perceive Republicans as out of touch with the wishes of the mainstream on an issue important enough to get them to the polls.

With the primary less than a week away, and the general looming in Novmeber, the matter of reproductive choice has become a hot button topic. All three Republican primary candidates tout their pro-life credentials whenever possible, appealing to the Christian conservative base they hope will turn out in force at the polls.

Current Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell would allow abortion only “in the rare instance that mother and child would die.” Both of them. Not just the mother.

Former AG Dan Sullivan would only allow legal abortion in cases of rape, incest, or loss of life of the mother. He also says that incest victims choosing abortion should consult with family members, and has repeatedly refused to say whether he supports Rand Paul’s “personhood bill” stating life is life at the moment of conception.

Joe Miller, the Republican nominee and Tea Party favorite in 2010 is back again, uncompromising in his hard line stance that all abortions should be illegal. “I am 100% pro-life,” he says.

All three candidates believe that Roe v. Wade, the landmark case legalizing abortion in the United States in 1973, should be overturned.

Mark Begich has it easy when it comes to distinguishing himself from the other side. It seems counterintuitive to be boldly pro-choice in  red state that is considered “vulnerable,” and in which the balance of the Senate majority may rest. But Begich doesn’t see it that way.

This week the Senator brought Cecile Richards, the President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America to Alaska to address the issue of women’s health care, and access to safe and legal abortion services, and birth control.

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Senator Mark Begich (center), Cecile Richards (to his left), and supporters of the campaign.

Richards noted that in her travels across the country she has seen people embracing women’s reproductive rights more as an issue in the current election cycle than they have in the past.

“Women are the majority of the electorate, and these are issues for them – particularly given the assault on women’s rights, and the attempts by some folks to sort of take us back to the 50’s. I think there is a keener focus on women’s issues now,” she said, referencing the  Supreme Court’s recent “Hobby Lobby” decision, and a current court battle over legislation in Texas which would shutter clinics across the state, and drastically reduce women’s access to abortion services, and reproductive health care.

“And it used to be that women were a bit of an afterthought in political campaigns, but not anymore.

What I love about Senator Begich is that from day one when he arrived in the United States Senate it wasn’t like we had to sit down and have a long education session about what these issues are about. He’s been very clear, he’s always been strong, and has been proud about his support for women’s rights.

And I think it’s going to be a clear difference between him and whoever comes out of the Republican primary here.”

Talking about that upcoming primary, Begich had some observations about the Republican candidates, competing for the chance to run against him in the general election.

“You’ve got to be willing to step out. These are personal issues.

It’s not like a road bill where I could say, ok we’ll do three roads instead of four. If you’re pro-choice, you’re pro-choice. It’s not like well I’m kinda there, but maybe not. And people know. If you’re true to it, they know it, and it tells them a lot about who you are.

“For example, in this race I think we all agree, we know where Joe Miller stands. We don’t have to agree with him, but we know where he stands, and the people who know where he stands are very supportive of him. He doesn’t mince words and have all these nuances, and kind of conditions, and ‘let me talk about it some more’ – he knows where he stands. My other opponents – one is evolving into the hard right position, and one doesn’t want to talk about his position, and has nuances. And every time he has a nuance, you kind of look at him and say, ‘Well, I’m not getting a clear picture, so I’m not sure then where you are on other issues that you state.’

“And in Alaska, I think, for elected officials, and around the country in tough states, don’t be afraid of where you stand. You may lose your election. You may lose your election… but if you don’t step up, then who’s going to step up? And if you step up, even if you lose, others may step to the plate. You can’t be afraid… and it’s tough. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve taken some grief, but you do what you do.”

Richards notes, “These are not just women’s issues. Reproductive choice, family planning, and birth control are also men’s issues. They’re family issues.” Come November, Alaska may be the race that determines Senate majority. And the voters who decide that election may very well be the women, and the men who advocate for women’s reproductive choice.

Comments

comments

Comments
9 Responses to “Begich – “If you’re pro-choice, you’re pro-choice.””
  1. Mag the Mick says:

    “Allow”. Nobody effing “allows” me to do anything. Rights aren’t given, they are fought for and seized. I do not take kindly to any man who takes away my rights and “allows” a limited version instead. Hey Sullivan, Miller, and Treadwell – I’m allowing you on finger.

    • mike from iowa says:

      🙂 🙂 Two likes.

      • Mag the Mick says:

        That’s all?

        Mikey, I’m going way out on a limb here. My cable company is cableone.net. You know the first 3 letters of my first name, and my last name begins with mcq. That’s where I’m @.

        • mike from iowa says:

          Here’s a few more while we test my redding and comprension skillz.

          🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  2. mike from iowa says:

    We need to protect all incumbent Dems and send several more because the stakes are ginormous after this election. There is a good chance to swing the balance of the Scotus to a much more moderate plane,one that doesn’t actively make laws acceptable to korporate amerika and/or religious activists. I’m thinking about five wingnuts need to be vanished from the Scotus and then we need to get the big bucks out of elections so everyone’s vote/voice is heard.

    Don Young needs to go,along with the Steve Kings,Michele Bachmanns and Louie Gohmerts of the wingnut party. Dems need to wake their voters up and get them to the polls or else we could lose any advantage we have now. Personally I’d like all wingnuts gone and about half the current crop of Dems. Send them all a message that they need to work together for the good of all Americans,America first.

  3. Barrett Fletcher says:

    While Begich’s position is commendable there is an intermediary position which is to call out anti-abortionists for their failure to support contraception and early childhood interventions.

    • Zyxomma says:

      Barrett, it’s the failure to support contraception that’s truly galling. And I’m sick of the wingnut position being called ‘pro-life.’ A zygote or blastocyst or early-stage fetus is NOT a human being. Perhaps it has the potential to be a human someday, but often it does not. That’s why so many women (who are actual living, breathing human beings) experience miscarriage. It often happens when the fetus is not viable. Those nutcases are not pro-life (look at their positions on war and the death penalty). They are pro-forced-birth, which disgusts me.

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  1. […] do what you do.” (Jeanne Devon, “Begich – ‘If Your’re Pro-Choice, You’re Pro-Choice.” The Mudflats Blog, […]

  2. […] do what you do.” (Jeanne Devon, “Begich – ‘If Your’re Pro-Choice, You’re Pro-Choice.” The Mudflats Blog, […]



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