A new pro-life super PAC has launched a six-figure ad buy in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia targeting President Obama on abortion, while outside groups on the left are stepping up their own attacks on Republican U.S. Senate candidate George Allen on the same issue but at the opposite end of the spectrum.
On Thursday, Women Speak Out PAC, a super PAC associated with the national pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, announced that it was dropping $157,000 into the heavily populated Hampton Roads media market. The group's 60-second ad targets Mr. Obama for votes he cast while in the Illinois state Senate on providing equal treatment for babies born alive during an abortion. The Anthony List and the PAC together have spent more than $1 million on TV ads against Mr. Obama during this election cycle.
"I was aborted and my body discarded like I didn't exist," abortion survivor Melissa Ohden says in the ad. "But a nurse heard me crying and cared enough to save my life."
The ad also includes testimony from Illinois nurse Jill Stanek, who says she witnessed "babies being delivered alive and left out to die."
"Barack Obama: wrong on abortion and wrong for America," a narrator concludes.
The ad is a departure for this election cycle, which has been dominated by job and economic issues.
Quentin Kidd, a political scientist at Christopher Newport University, said the ad calls to mind the culture-war elections of the 1990s or the 2004 contest, when gay marriage became a front-and-center issue in President Bush's re-election campaign.
"It's the suburban woman who probably isn't motivated by abortion very strong or very against who is also soft on Romney. This ad might actually motivate her," Mr. Kidd said. "Abortion doesn't motivate her political thoughts, but all things being equal, she thinks it's horrible."
Meanwhile, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has an ad that, in part, highlights Mr. Allen's support for a federal "personhood" bill that would extend American civil and legal rights to fertilized eggs from the moment of conception.
In a debate this week against Democratic opponent Tim Kaine, Mr. Allen described such a bill as an accountability measure. For example, such legislation would enable someone who attacked or injured a pregnant woman and killed her unborn child to be held criminally liable.
The campaign committee announced Thursday that it was spending an additional $1.5 million to target Mr. Allen in the neck-and-neck race, and a trio of union groups announced a $2.25 million adbuy this week targeting him on issues including women's access to health care.
"Allen would take away women's access to mammograms, cancer screening and birth control, letting insurance companies decide on coverage for your family," says an announcer in the ad from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the National Education Association and the Service Employees International Union.
Allen spokeswoman Emily Davis dismissed the charges as "scare tactics."
"[Virginians] know George Allen has a record of fighting to strengthen and expand Medicare coverage and women's access to quality health care," she said. "Recognized for his work for breast cancer awareness, George Allen has and will always stand for women's health care benefits."
The issue of abortion also cropped up on the presidential campaign trail after Mitt Romney told The Des Moines Register on Tuesday that he does not plan to make abortion a part of his legislative agenda as president. A spokeswoman quickly followed up to clarify that Mr. Romney is "proudly pro-life and will be a pro-life president."
The Democratic National Committee pounced by pointing to statements Mr. Romney made during the Republican primary debate season that he would like the Supreme Court to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision and would welcome a situation where there were no abortions in the country.
Mr. Romney's stated position is that he opposes abortion except in cases of rape or incest or when the life of the mother is in danger.
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