March 20, 2013 — Both Democratic and Republican candidates vying to fill the open U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts are "struggling" to define their stance on abortion rights, the AP/WBUR reports. The special election -- which will fill the seat of former Sen. John Kerry (D), who became U.S. secretary of state -- is scheduled for June 25. Primaries are scheduled for April 30.
Among the Democratic candidates, U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch (Mass.) has attempted to soften his stated opposition to abortion rights by pledging that he would not vote for Senate legislation to outlaw abortion. Lynch also has said he would not vote to confirm any nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court whom he thinks would overturn Roe v. Wade. Lynch also has touted his previous support for federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
Lynch could face difficulty defeating U.S. Rep. Edward Markey (Mass.) in the Democratic primary, according to the AP/WBUR. Markey's support for abortion rights has earned him support from NARAL Pro-Choice America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
According to the AP/WBUR, Republicans who have won statewide office in Massachusetts during the last 25 years or so have done so with "socially moderate positions," including support for access to abortion.
If an antiabortion-rights Republican candidate were to win the upcoming primary, it could make GOP officials nervous about a defeat in the special election, according to Thomas Whalen, a political scientist at Boston University.
Of the three Republican candidates, state Rep. Daniel Winslow -- who has described himself as "unapologetically pro-choice" -- has been the most consistent in his position on abortion rights. Gabriel Gomez -- a businessman and former Navy SEAL -- has said he is personally opposed to abortion because of his Catholic faith but that he would not vote for legislation that would change current abortion laws. Meanwhile, former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan has adopted the strongest stance against abortion rights, which has earned him the endorsement of Massachusetts Citizens for Life (Salsberg, AP/WBUR, 3/18).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership