By Diana Rosen
October 19, 2012
Republican Senatorial candidate Linda McMahon seems to have invented a new kind of rape at her debate with Democratic candidate Chris Murphy Monday night—“emergency rape.”
In an interview with the Hartford Courant editorial board, McMahon took the position that Catholic hospitals should be allowed to deny rape victims emergency contraception. McMahon defended her statement Monday night saying, “It was really an issue about a Catholic church being forced to offer those pills if the person came in in an emergency rape.”
McMahon went on to explain that she does actually support the administration of morning-after pills in Catholic hospitals, claiming that she thought the original interview question had been in reference to a church, not a hospital. This came as a surprise to many, considering the interviewer had specifically used the word “hospital” three times in the question. McMahon also failed to clarify what she meant by the phrase “emergency rape.” The Murphy campaign has compared the comment to Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape,” a phrase that McMahon said in August was “reprehensible.”
This flip-flopping on issues of women’s rights and sexuality has been a common theme for the McMahon campaign. She claims to be a pro-choice candidate, but also says she would have voted for the GOP-backed Blunt Amendment that would have allowed employers to deny health coverage for moral reasons. McMahon also recently rescinded her support of the Defense of Marriage Act at a debate on October 7th, saying, “I absolutely support America’s law for same-sex marriage.” Murphy was quick to point out to her that America doesn’t have a law for same-sex marriage.
Murphy’s campaign website has an entire page dedicated to his support for issues of women’s rights, citing his support for legislation on abortion rights, violence against women, workforce equality, and the Affordable Care Act. He has another page on his support of LGBT rights which begins, “Let me be clear and simple: LGBT rights are human rights.” Planned Parenthood gave Murphy a 100% on its Legislative Score Card and the Human Rights Campaign has endorsed him.
Although McMahon’s website has links to news stories and videos citing her opinions on women and LGBT rights, there is no clear list of her stances on each issue. She has repeatedly said that she is pro-choice and supports same-sex marriage, although she hasn’t always in the past. Still, McMahon is backed by several anti-choice and anti-LGBT rights leaders, including Connecticut Right to Life’s Chris O’Brien and Family Institute of Connecticut’s Peter Wolfgang.
Recent polls have shown Murphy leading McMahon by 50 percent to 32 percent with female voters. According to poll director Jennifer Dineen, this gap has grown tremendously in the last several weeks, indicating that McMahon’s latest comments and position revisions have lost her support with women. Still, McMahon has continued making attempts to win over the female vote, encouraging voters to make history by electing Connecticut’s first female Senator. Her campaign has also created a Women for Linda website with videos of women explaining why they support McMahon.
With 11 toss-up elections in the Senate this fall, a McMahon victory in Connecticut could very easily mean a Republican majority in the Senate. With the House guaranteed to remain Republican, this would leave the country with a Republican Congress for the first time since 2007. A Republican Congress could potentially pursue a legislative agenda hostile to women’s and LGBT rights.
The latest poll from the University of Connecticut and the Hartford Courant shows Murphy leading McMahon 44 to 38 percent with an additional 17 percent undecided voters.
Diana Rosen is a freshman in Yale College. She is a contributing writer for Broad Recognition.