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. LarryDurstinATyahoo.com