A new ad released by New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s (D) re-election campaign attacks Republican challenger Scott Brown for supporting a law that “forces” women considering an abortion to view photos of developing unborn babies, reports The Washington Post.
“In Massachusetts, Scott Brown pushed for a law to force women considering abortion–forced them–to look at color photographs of developing fetuses,” says the voice-over of Shaheen’s ad.
“What Jeanne Shaheen is doing is despicable,” said Brown at a news conference on October 8. “Her lies and scare tactics are, quite frankly, disappointing.”
“This bill that she’s referring to–that, by the way, was filed over nine years ago and was never even voted on–and shown in her ad, did not force women to do anything,” Brown continued. “I would never force women to do anything. I would never support a bill that would do such a thing. The goal of this bill was to give adoption a chance, simply as an alternative.”
According to Glenn Kessler at the Post, the dispute over this video ad is about the word “force.” Brown, he observes, has always been a “moderate” Republican who supports abortion rights, but with “enough restrictions that he would win the backing of pro-life groups if he was in a race against a more stalwart abortion-rights Democrat.”
The fact is Scott Brown is pro-choice, and he supports federal funding for Planned Parenthood, both of which he states clearly in his ad (above) in response to Shaheen’s attack. Brown’s campaign has called Shaheen’s ad “a smear campaign” and has called for it to be pulled.
Kessler points out that Shaheen’s ad is careful not to actually state that Brown is anti-abortion, but it could leave that impression.
He notes that though “Women’s Right to Know” laws have been enacted in 22 states, similar bills in Massachusetts never progressed very far.
The laws require women contemplating an abortion to understand what their unborn baby looks like at various stages of development. Pamphlets with photos of babies developing in utero, as well as informed consent forms for a signature, must be presented to the girl or woman prior to the abortion.
The law that Brown backed as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and later as a member of the state Senate, was similar to these types of informed consent laws.
As Kessler stated, in 2003, Planned Parenthood opposed the Massachusetts bill, saying it “borders on harassment.”
“I think it’s insulting to women to force them to go through these steps,” said one Planned Parenthood official, according to the Milford Daily News.
On the other hand, Brown claims that the Massachusetts bill he backed was only an “adoption” bill, which really isn’t supported by other reports at the time, states Kessler.
Kessler believes the Shaheen ad is “mostly correct,” but he also believes the word “force” is over the top and should probably be replaced with the word “require.”
Brown, however, the Post‘s analysis ultimately states, should own up to the fact that the bill’s intent was to have women reflect on their unborn child and whether they really wanted to end his or her life.