If anyone thought the issues of contraception and women's reproductive rights disappeared from the 2012 political campaigns after Rick Santorum was vanquished from the Republican presidential race, TV ads during the Olympics for Rep. Lois Capps indicate that those issues are very much alive entering the fall congressional campaign.
In one of two ads being shown during Olympics coverage aired on KSBY, the NBC affliiate station in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, Capps focuses exclusively on women's health issues. It is a departure from typical campaign ads of the recent past, which seldom on either side of the issue have dealt with abortion, other than perhaps a pro forma statement that a given pro-choice candidate will "aways support a women's right to choose."
Capps' ad is exclusively devoted to women's health issues, beginning with a narrator saying, "They are our mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, and friends. That's why Lois Capps opposes the partisan politics that threaten these women." It goes on to state that the Democratic congresswoman "is always there" to support abortion rights, to oppose attempts to block access to birth control and to preserve federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
Campaign spokesman Jeff Millman told me that voters in the Central Coast's 24th District are very much aware of the "pretty audacious attacks on contraception" that have been made in the Republican-led House of Representatives and were the subject of much discussion during the GOP presidential primary.
"These issues that have been settled for a long time have been reopened by Republicans," he said. "With the partisans in Washington, these issues are very real."
The Capps campaign believes so strongly that these issues are of importance to voters that it decided to dedicate much of a substantial Olympics-coverage television ad buy to highlight them. It's a noteworthy decision, and it will be interesting to see if other Democratic congressional candidates follow suit as the fall campaigns unfold.