Last November, voters in Kentucky turned out in large numbers to reject the idea of adding an amendment outlawing abortion to the state constitution. But almost a year later abortion is still illegal in Kentucky — thanks in large part to Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who defended against a challenge to the state’s existing abortion ban in court this year. Now Cameron, the Republican candidate running for governor in November, is signaling not only that he thinks abortion and contraception are virtually synonymous, but he would work to further restrict birth control in Kentucky if elected.
Earlier this year, Cameron filled out a survey from Northern Kentucky Right To Life that asked if he would “actively support” legislation that would make it a criminal offense “to perform, to assist with, or to pay for an abortion.” In a separate question, the survey defines “abortion” as including the emergency contraceptive Plan B and three other types of birth control: Norplant, Depo Provera, and the pill. (Northern Kentucky Right to Life did not respond to multiple inquiries about the survey.)
Cameron answered yes.
He answered yes to several other questions as well, ranging from whether he would support amendments to the U.S. and Kentucky constitutions declaring that personhood begins at the point of fertilization (which would effectively outlaw emergency contraception and some IUDs and represents a much more aggressive amendment than the one decisively defeated last year), to whether he would support the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. (Roughly one-fifth of Kentuckians get their health care through Medicaid, which was expanded under the ACA; Cameron has previously said he would not reverse the Medicaid expansion.)
On Friday, Cameron pushed back against news coverage of his survey responses. “It is absolutely ridiculous to suggest I oppose or want to criminalize birth control or contraception,” he told Bluegrass Live. It’s worth noting that Cameron was not alone: According to the anti-abortion organization that collected the surveys, the Republican candidates for secretary of state, auditor of public accounts, state treasurer, and commissioner of agriculture gave the same set of answers.
The responses — while stunning for mainstream political candidates — track with the growing mission creep among anti-abortion groups and the politicians courting them in the wake of Roe v. Wade’s reversal. Increasingly, those groups, with help from GOP officials they endorse, are targeting access to birth control in addition to access to abortion.
In his Dobbs concurrence last year, Justice Clarence Thomas suggested that the court should “reconsider” a host of landmark decisions — including Griswold v. Connecticut, guaranteeing protection for birth control. Elected Republicans and anti-abortion activists have been picking up what Thomas put down: Last fall, Idaho’s No Public Funds for Abortion Act went into effect, which prohibits health clinics at public universities from dispensing or telling students where to obtain emergency contraception except for in cases of rape. In Ohio this year, 35 Republicans in Ohio’s Assembly have backed a bill that would declare personhood begins at fertilization, threatening access to Plan B and IUDs. And just last week in Oregon, an anti-abortion group filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate a state law that requires companies to offer insurance coverage for contraception.
Meanwhile, last year in the U.S. House of Representatives, 195 Republicans — 93 percent of the caucus — voted against codifying federal protections for birth control.
At the same time, many Republicans like Cameron have issued statements ridiculing the idea that they are anti-birth control. Cameron justified his opposition to the ACA mandate requiring coverage for birth control by saying he simply believes “in upholding the fundamental right to religious freedom. No one should be compelled to act against their religious beliefs. That includes taxpayers.” Cameron’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment from Rolling Stone, but his survey responses are firmly on brand for the Republican, who has embraced, as attorney general of Kentucky, some of the most hostile positions toward women’s reproductive health as possible.
Earlier this year, the Biden administration implemented a rule blocking state officials from obtaining information about reproductive health care — including birth control and fertility treatments — that residents get outside of their home states. Cameron opposed the rule, joining attorneys general from several other GOP-controlled states in a letter accusing the administration of attempting to “wrest control over abortion back from the people in defiance of the Constitution and Dobbs.”
Cameron has also joined an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to uphold a lower court decision that revoked FDA authorization for the abortion drug mifepristone. (The Court declined.) He joined a separate letter threatening the pharmacy chains Walgreens and CVS with legal action if they chose to dispense abortion medication. (The letter had an impact: Walgreens declared it would not dispense the medication — an outcome Cameron was “very pleased” by.)
Beyond defending the state’s near-total abortion ban — a law that does not include any exceptions for rape or incest — one of Cameron’s highest-profile efforts as attorney general has been picking a fight with Yelp over its decision to flag for users that crisis pregnancy centers “do not offer abortions or referrals to abortion providers.” For this, Cameron accused the company of “discrimination.”
In addition to securing the backing of Northern Kentucky Right to Life, Cameron has won endorsements from a host of other anti-abortion groups, including National Right to Life, Kentucky Right To Life Victory PAC, and Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America.
On the campaign trail, Cameron has made his views on abortion the centerpiece of his candidacy, declaring his vision for Kentucky is “a vision in which we make sure that those that are unborn are able to reach their God-given potential.”Kentucky, meanwhile, has the second-highest maternal mortality rate in the nation.
Source link: https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/daniel-cameron-kentucky-birth-control-ban-1234825358/