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Elections & Politics

Pre-Debate Memo: Dan Sullivan Is Extreme & Dangerous on Women’s Health

Contact: Planned Parenthood Action Fund Media Office, 212-261-4433

For Immediate Release: 08.27.14

TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Jessica Cler, Alaska Public Affairs Manager at Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest
DATE: Wednesday, August 27, 2014
RE: Pre-Debate Memo: Dan Sullivan Is Extreme & Dangerous on Women’s Health

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Tonight, women’s health champion Mark Begich will face off against Dan Sullivan, an Ohio native with extreme and dangerous positions on women’s health, at the first debate in their campaign for U.S. Senate. At Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, the choice couldn’t be clearer: Senator Mark Begich trusts women to make our own health care decisions. Dan Sullivan believes that the government should control what women can do with their bodies.

To ensure voters across Alaska know the stark contrast between the candidates, we’ve joined with Planned Parenthood Action Fund for a multi-layered advocacy and political campaign to mobilize voters to turn out in favor of women’s health this fall. We want women to go to the polls on November 4, and when they do, to vote for the candidate that will stand up and fight for them.

Begich is a true champion for women’s health and has been outspoken about his support for issues like affordable birth control throughout the campaign, giving him a 14 point lead among women. We know that Planned Parenthood advocacy and political organizations have a proven track record when it comes to educating voters and that issues like birth control access are a motivating voting issue for women.

Last week, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund announced its largest digital ad buy of the cycle, with ads appearing on social media and a host of statewide news sites, including the Juneau Empireand Alaska Dispatch News, among other local outlets. You can view the website takeover of the Alaska Dispatch News here. You can view additional samples of the creative here. They also have ads highlighting Sullivan’s support of the Hobby Lobby decision here.

When she visited the state earlier this month, Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund said: “It used to be that women were a bit of an afterthought in political campaigns, and they’re not anymore.”

I’ve copied below a one-pager on the candidates’ records and positions on women’s health. You can view women’s health “champ” and “chump” pages for the candidates here and here

There is a clear contrast between U.S. Senator Mark Begich and Dan Sullivan when it comes to women’s health and rights.

Senator Begich has a 100% rating on the Planned Parenthood Action Fund congressional scorecard and will fight to:

Make sure bosses and politicians can’t interfere with birth control access: Senator Begich was a cosponsor of the “Not My Boss’ Business” bill to protect women from bosses and employers that want to deny them access to no-copay birth control, a popular benefit that is already available to 64,000 women in Alaska.  On the Hobby Lobby decision, he wrote, “As Alaskans, we don’t want the government intruding into our lives and telling us how to make personal decisions. Bosses should not be able to dictate family planning and birth control options for Alaska women.” [S.2578, 7/9/14; HHS,6/27/14Juneau Empire, 7/24/14]

Protect women’s access to Planned Parenthood’s preventive health services: He stood up for the millions of women, men, and young people that rely on Planned Parenthood when Congress voted to block access to the preventive services their health centers provide to one in five U.S. women in her lifetime. [H. Con. Res. 36, Roll Call vote 60, 4/14/11]

Ensure women have access to quality health care, and aren’t charged more for health insurance: He helped pass the Affordable Care Act, a law that is a historic advancement for women’s access to health care.  When women’s health care was on the line, he voted for an amendment that ensures that preventive care and screening for women's health issues will be covered without a copay, saving women up to $600 a year. The law ensures that women have access to no-copay birth control, and can’t be charged more for health insurance or denied coverage for so-called “pre-existing conditions” like breast cancer or domestic abuse.  [S. 3590, Roll Call vote 396, 12/24/09]

Stand up for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence: He believes that when a woman is raped she should have access to all available options, including access to emergency contraception, a form of birth control that can prevent pregnancy if taken within five days of unprotected sex. In 2013, he co-sponsored the Military Access to Reproductive Care and Health Act (MARCH), which would lift the military medical facilities’ ban on using private funds to pay for abortions, and allow women in the military to access a full range of reproductive health care services. He also co-sponsored the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2013, which helped reduce the rate of intimate partner violence by 64 percent in the first decade and a half after it was first passed. [S. 777, 4/23/13S. 47, Roll Call vote 19, 2/12/13U.S. Department of Justice, March 2013]

Defend a woman’s constitutional right to safe, legal abortion from government intrusion: He believes that decisions about whether to choose adoption, end a pregnancy, or raise a child must be left between a woman, her family and her faith, with the counsel of her doctor — without government intrusion. Senator Begich co-sponsored the “Women’s Health Protection Act” that would prohibit states from passing so-called Targeted Restrictions of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws, that impose strict and cost-prohibitive building standards on abortion clinics, and require women seeking abortions to have ultrasounds, as well as create other barriers to abortion access. Senator Begich supports access to safe and legal abortion and has said that he “respects the ability for Alaska women to make their own informed decisions.” [S. 1696, 11/14/13Alaska Dispatch News, 8/4/14]

Ensure women are treated fairly in the workplace and receive equal pay for equal work: One of the first bills Senator Begich co-sponsored in the U.S. Senate was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which was signed into law and gives women the tools they need to fight for equal pay for an equal day’s work. Senator Begich has worked to build on that victory for women by supporting the Paycheck Fairness Act, which has repeatedly failed to pass into law due to Republican opposition. In Alaska, women continue to make 74 cents on average for every dollar paid to men. [S. 181, 1/8/13; S. 2199, 4/7/14; MSNBC, 4/9/14; National Partnership for Women and Families, April 2014]


Dan Sullivan: Out of Touch with Alaska Women and Families

Thinks bosses and politicians should decide whether you get access to affordable birth control: Dan Sullivan has said that he thought the deeply unpopular Hobby Lobby lawsuit which gives bosses the legal right to deny women access to no-copay birth control was “great,” which is not what a majority of women voters think. Sixty-eight percent of women voters say that politicians who support the Hobby Lobby decision are out of touch with them and their everyday lives. [Tom Anderson Show, 1/7/14; Hart Research Associates, 7/25/14; Alaska Family Action Candidate Survey]

Would deny Alaska women and families access to Planned Parenthood’s preventive health services: Dan Sullivan said that he would support legislation that would cut off funding to Planned Parenthood, blocking access to the preventive services health centers provide to women, men and young people, including lifesaving cancer screenings, STI testing and birth control. According to the Guttmacher Institute, for every dollar spent on family planning, nearly $6 in public money is saved. Seventy-nine percent of Planned Parenthood patients live with incomes of 150% of the federal poverty level or less, the equivalent of $34,575 a year for the family of four in 2012. [Alaska Family Action Candidate SurveyGuttmacher Institute, August 2014]

Wants to go back to the days when insurance companies could charge women more for health care coverage: Sullivan wants to go back to the days when women paid more for health insurance, and insurance companies could once again charge women more for their coverage and classify pregnancy as a “pre-existing condition.” He was a lead attorney general in an effort to overturn the Affordable Care Act and has said that he supports a repeal of the federal health care law.  [Alaska Family Action Candidate SurveyAlaska Dispatch News, 4/20/10]

Would impose his extreme beliefs about abortion on women and their families: Dan Sullivan wants to ban abortion with no exceptions for the health of a woman. When Sullivan was attorney general, he approved an effort to put a dangerous and extreme “personhood” initiative on the Alaska ballot and said it could move forward. If enacted, the measure could interfere with personal, private medical decisions about birth control, access to fertility treatment, management of a miscarriage, and access to safe and legal abortion. Sullivan refuses to give a clear position on where he stands on the Life at Conception Act, federal legislation that would do the same thing. [Alaska Dispatch News, 8/4/14Associated Press, 12/26/12]

Is against raising minimum wage, which would help reduce poverty among women and families struggling to make ends meet: Dan Sullivan does not believe that the current minimum wage should be raised, despite overwhelming support among Alaskans for a minimum wage increase. Polling finds that 67% of Alaskan voters support raising the minimum wage, which will appear on the ballot in November. Raising the minimum wage would benefit almost 4.8 million working mothers, helping to pull many families out of poverty. Increasing the minimum wage is also a key step toward closing the gender wage gap. In Alaska, women make nearly $15,000 less annually, compared to their male counterparts. [Associated Press, 1/18/14Public Policy Polling, 5/14/14National Women's Law Center, 3/28/14National Partnership for Women and Families, April 2014]

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Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.