Is Marcy Kaptur a Threat to Women’s Reproductive Rights?

Is Marcy Kaptur a Threat to Women’s Reproductive Rights?

By Larry Durstin

In its recent front-page profile of the reconfigured 9th District’s Congressional candidate Marcy Kaptur, the Cleveland Plain Dealer gushed about the virtues of “Saint Marcy” so shamelessly that the story appeared to have been written by a public relations hack.

Of course it’s no secret to any political observer in Cleveland that the town’s only daily has done everything in its power to undermine her Democratic primary opponent, Dennis Kucinich, ever since he won his seat in 1996. (This is the same seat that was held for many years by Mary Rose Oakar, who ended up winning a significant libel settlement from the Plain Dealer for its printing of a series of false stories about her that led to her defeat in 1992.)

Based on the PD’s vendetta against Kucinich, it’s not surprising that Kaptur – who is a genuinely hard-working public servant – received the paper’s endorsement. However, the blatantly boosterish tone of the “profile” was downright embarrassing, treating her with a level of adulation generally reserved for the patron saint of a small Sicilian village. Sadly, the fawning nature of this puff piece also obscured the fact that Kaptur’s long history of voting against abortion rights poses a genuine threat to the protection of those critical issues surrounding reproductive rights that have once again come to the forefront of the 2012 campaign due to the high-octane war on women that is being ferociously waged by religious right-wingers all over the country.

Yet nowhere in the nearly 3000-word Plain Dealer piece is there mention of the fact that many Progressives are genuinely outraged by Kaptur’s 30-year assault of abortion rights. Instead, there is nothing but lavish praise of her by every single person quoted in the article, some of whom use the exact same words in describing Kaptur, as if they were talking about some kind of Manchurian Candidate.

Paragraph after paragraph brims with superlatives about the 65-year-old blue-collar Catholic. She’s authentic, homey, and genuine. She’s a workhorse and woman of substance and integrity with an acute aversion to extravagance. She lives with her brother in the same house she grew up in and produces fruits and vegetables there. She sometimes “beds” with a congregation of nuns. She drove 17 hours through a snowstorm to begin her first campaign in 1982 where she raised funds by baking cookies. She lectured Bill Clinton about the dangers of NAFTA and once turned down an offer from Ross Perot to become his vice president. She never wed because she is “married to Congress.” The article makes so many references to her “devout” Catholicism that it could have been written for a Knights of Columbus newsletter.

Nowhere in this blizzard of superlatives is any mention that Kaptur threatened to help kill President Obama’s Affordable Care Act unless it was amended to exclude coverage for abortion; or that she has a three-decades long voting record of restricting abortion rights; or that she has been the only member of the Progressive Caucus to vote against embryonic stem cell research that could save or vastly improve the lives of millions of people suffering from horrible diseases; or that the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) has given her a rating of only 30% and views her as a distinct threat to a woman’s right to choose.

In contrast, Dennis Kucinich has – since his adoption of the pro-choice position 10 years ago – garnered a perfect 100% rating from NARAL and is on record as vowing to work against any Supreme Court nominee whom he believes will vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

The reason that these two candidates’ positions on reproductive issues are so important at this time is because of the brutal nature of the attacks on women’s health choices that have long dominated the GOP’s agenda but seem to have been accelerated over the past year or so. Republican governors and state legislatures are introducing restrictive legislation directed at women and geared toward rolling back decades of progress, especially in the area of abortion rights.

Each passing week seems to reveal a new “personhood” or “heartbeat” bill designed to codify the theory that life begins at conception, which would mean that all abortions and certain forms of contraception would be illegal. “Conscience” bills that would allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions based on their religious beliefs are popping up everywhere. Virginia is flirting with a law that would require women seeking an abortion to be subjected to having a sonogram device jammed up their vaginas in an unnecessary procedure designed to force them to reconsider their decision to terminate a pregnancy. The wisdom and legality of birth control has become a hot topic in the Republican primaries.

Clearly, the desire to return women and the control they have over their bodies to the Dark Ages is alive and well amongst right-wingers. In order to battle this effort, legislators are needed who are totally committed to waging war on the GOP’s war on women. That’s why those who are interested in electing a candidate who is 100% dedicated to protecting women’s reproductive rights should support Dennis Kucinich over Marcy Kaptur – a woman who, based on her anti-abortion record, simply cannot be trusted to fight for pro-choice issues.



Larry Durstin is an independent journalist who has covered politics and sports for a variety of publications and websites over the past 20 years. He was the founding editor of the Cleveland Tab and an associate editor at the Cleveland Free Times. Durstin has won 12 Ohio Excellence in Journalism awards, including six first places in six different writing categories.

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5 Responses to “Is Marcy Kaptur a Threat to Women’s Reproductive Rights?”

  1. I’m pro-choice, and I’ll be voting for Marcy Kaptur. I’m not happy about her positions on this issue, but I’m not a single issue voter. Dennis Kucinich, as I saw while working in Washington for years, can’t pass a bill to save his life. He votes the way I like on many issues, but he’s not a legislator. Colleagues from many progressive organizations knew that his name high on a list of legislative co-sponsors was poison to bills we worked on, so we all reminded each other to avoid getting his and a few other members’ co-sponsorships on bills until the list was long enough that his name didn’t throw the bill into the “no go” range for other members of Congress. I never heard the same about Marcy Kaptur.

  2. Anastasia P

    Marcy’s record is not that cut-and-dried, and she currently also has a 100% rating from NARAL (not sure for what legislation). In the past she’s received “blech” scores from both NARAL AND Right to Life. While I did not appreciate her showboating over ACA (which Kucinich threatened to kill for other reasons and showboated over even worse), she has also voted against a bill that would have made it a crime to transport a minor out of state to have an abortion. In fact, the number of abortion bills she has voted on is limited because until recently, there wasn’t a huge amount of abortion legislation — even while Republicans controlled both the White House and Congress in the early Bush years.

    The tiny progressive minority Dennis has advocated for by supporting gerrymandered maps makes it more likely that repressive reproductive legislation will be introduced and passed, and that we will continue to see spectacles like Darrell Issa’s men-only hearing on birth control.

  3. Susan Savilson

    Let’s face it: for a female Dem to be anti-choice is an embarrassment. Not that Dennis is any better: from the time he entered politics in the early 1970s til 2004 (as I remember it when he ran his egotistical campaign for president and he flipped on the issue when it was convenient for him), he consistently did not support a woman’s right to control her own body. Pretty unbelievable for the great “progressive” to be anti-choice for 34 years! Both these candidates have been shameful on this issue for decades.

    We need legislators who will put a stop to the Republican war on women and sadly, I don’t think we can look to either of these candidates with any trust and confidence.

  4. Pete

    Dennis Kucininch always opposed our not-needed, not-justified wars of conquest and corporate war profiteering in Iraq and Afghanistan, two countries that were NOT behind 911, and posed no danger to the USA. But war criminal Marcy Kaptur voted to fund these two wars again and again, while holding stock in war contractor war profiteer corporations, and having her election campaign funded by war contractor corporations. She is part of the terrorist American war machine and profits from it. She belongs in Gitmo or some such prison for war criminals. She is one. She claims to be a Catholic, but she is still a war criminal and a false Christian, not a real Christian.

  5. Jerry Dolcini

    I am pro-choice and anti-perpetual war. Kaptur is no progressive. At heart she is a conservative Catholic
    who votes for whatever the Defense industry and the Pentagon want. Supposedly pro-life like so many
    devout Christians she is simply a crusader from the Dark Ages and is not disturbed by death and destruction
    in foreign lands. There are far too many like her in Congress lacking in historical knowledge and intelligence and Kaptur will not improve that reputation. Also, a PD endorsement should automatically eliminate her from
    consideration. Dennis may only be a progressive David in the House of Goliath but he is a true warrior for
    the 99%.

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