The Maine Public Broadcasting Network
Maine Public Radio
Maine Public Classical
King, Summers Spar on Abortion Issue
10/04/2012   Reported By: Tom Porter

With some polls showing that the U.S. Senate race in Maine is tightening, the campaign of Independent Angus King today went after GOP rival Charlie Summers, accusing him of flip-flopping on the abortion issue. At a press conference in Portland this morning, King's wife Mary Hermon stressed that her husband's pro-choice position has been consistent from day one.

Related Media
King, Summers Spar on Abortion Issue Listen

"My husband Angus King and I have shared values, shared concerns, and shared priorities," Herman says. "And we've been married for 28 years, and there wouldn't even have been a second date if I hadn't known from the outset that he shared my concerns and priorities for women's reproductive rights and for the healthcare needs of women, children and families."

But Herman and others in the King camp say Charlie Summers' position on women's rights has changed noticeably over the last few years. Anne Haskell is Democratic state representative from Portland who's backing King in the Senate race. She says she doesn't think Summers can be trusted as a aenator to support Roe v. Wade, the landmark court case that established a women's right to abortion.

"He has in the past said that he is pro-choice without any restrictions," Haskell says. "However when he's answered the papers recently, he's been saying that it is not with government funds - there's a restriction; only in the case of rape, incest or the life of the mother. That's a very big change from a pro-choice position."

"I don't think there's anything to suggest that," Summers says. Speaking on MPBN's Maine Calling program, he defended his record on abortion as consistantly pro-choice.

"I've voted pro-choice. I have a pro-choice voting record," he said. "I don't think that federal funds should be used for abortions, but in my state Senate days where we're dealing with state issues, I've had a very strong pro-choice voting record."

He describes Roe v. Wade as the "law of the land," and says it will remain so unless the Supreme Court overturns it. As for his belief that abortion should only be considered in the case of rape, incest or a threat to the life of the mother, Summers did refer to those conditions back in April, in an interview with MPBN radio during the Senate GOP primary.

"Well I've always voted pro-choice because I think there are times such as the life of the mother, or incest or rape when abortion may have to be something that would be considered," he said then.

But Summers insists that he never meant to say that those conditions were the only grounds to justify legal abortions. Summers was asked today by MPBN's Keith Shortall to clarify his position.

Charlie Summers: "I am pro-choice specifically for three reasons: rape, incest, life of the mother. I think that those are instances that, among others, when something like that may be necessary. I think all one needs to do is look at my voting record in the Maine Legislature, and I have a solidly pro-choice voting record."

Keith Shortall: "So it's those conditions, and others, is what you're saying?"

Charlie Summers: "Well, sure. Someone asked me why, and, initially, it's issues like that."

Meanwhile, the only woman in the Senate race, pro-choice Democrat Cynthia Dill, has released a policy statement called "Women ust Vote Their Values." Despite Summers' assurances that he remains pro-choice, she warns that "women's personal freedoms, as upheld in Roe v. Wade" are under attack from what she calls a "right-wing Republican Party agenda."


Become a Fan of the NEW MPBNNews Facebook page. Get news, updates and unique content to share and discuss:

Recommended by our audience on Facebook:
Copyright © 2016 Maine Public Broadcasting Network. All rights reserved.