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Abortion flap puts Brown-Warren in national spotlight

Posted in: Election 2012
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In Massachusetts, it’s never about a single issue, although it seems the economy had been dominating all the talk in the US Senate race.

But with the cacophony generated by US Rep. (and Worcester Polytechnic Institute alumnus) Todd Akin’s skull-scratching screed on female biology, the spotlight on social issues has increased significantly. And, quite naturally, a nation turns its lonely eyes to the Brown-Warren race.

Sen. Scott Brown was leading the GOP pack to chase Akin out of his own race for the Senate in Missouri while taking the opportunity to call on the national party to once again embrace the “Big Tent” concept of allowing differing views on social issues.  And he also used the platform to tout his own bipartisanship as well as his “pro-choice” stance.

While that’s playing well around the country, those who’ve seen Brown in action over the years are wondering just what he means by “pro-choice.” Brown has a spotty record from his time in the Legislature, sponsoring a “conscientious objector” bill that would allow health professionals who are morally opposed to abortion to refuse to provide emergency contraception to rape victims.

Brown also has sponsored amendments requiring parental notification and opposes federal funding for abortions, all stances that many abortion rights advocates say do not comport with a “pro-choice” platform. In the special election in 2010, Brown got the support of a number of anti-abortion and right-wing groups, including Massachusetts Citizens for Life, endorsements he never rejected though certainly none that he is now touting.

Brown’s nimble response may be why Elizabeth Warren has yet to take full advantage of the issue. Here’s a Time story explaining why Warren needs to nationalize the Senate race in the wake of the Akin furor. Some are positing that the eruption could have an impact on the balance of the Senate, which the GOP had confidence it could win, come November.

Warren’s camp is touting her gender agenda and tying Brown to the “Romney-Ryan-Akin” ticket and the GOP platform that is seeking a total ban on abortions with no exception. But Warren hasn’t gone after Brown’s past votes and stances on abortion issues. Maybe it’s early or maybe she’ll use the debates to make her case. Or maybe she thinks it won’t stick.

But Brown, who shares advisors with Mitt Romney, is trying to steer clear of the controversy while at the same time holding himself out as a “Scott Brown Republican.” Brown is only planning to attend one day of the Republican National Convention next week and while there, keep a very, very low profile.


                                                                                                                                                --JACK SULLIVAN


BEACON HILL

Christy Mihos, who’s having a few problems of his own, is releasing a tell-all book on the Big Dig, reports the Cape Cod Times.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Police in Lawrence shut down a third bar using an order from the state’s Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

The Scituate Board of Selectmen takes strong exception to a Patriot Ledger editorial that accused them of violating the state’s Open Meeting law.

Owners of a Middleboro campground are suing past and present town officials because they refused to issue a new occupancy permit after the camp exceeded the allowed number of camp sites. A judge has appointed a receiver to remove campers from the site.

The Boston City Council narrowly approved a redistricting plan that minority activists say will dilute minority voting clout in district council races. All eyes are now on Mayor Tom Menino, who hasn’t said whether he’ll sign off on the plan.

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse will announce the person he has selected for the city’s newly created creative economy coordinator position on Friday.

Framingham seeks to join the list of the state’s green communities.

CASINOS

Mashpee Wampanoag officials presented a big check (literally) for $1.5 million to the city of Taunton as a first payment under the agreement to build a casino in the Silver City.

Suffolk Downs, seeking one of the state’s gambling licenses, is ordered to pay a $1.25 million fine for allowing horse manure and other waste to flow into Sales Creek and eventually Boston Harbor, the Item reports.

The Springfield Republican rounds up reader comments on whether or not a large casino downtown is a good idea.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

A new report says the US middle class suffered its “worst decade in modern history,” the Associated Press reports (via WBUR). The middle class includes 51 percent of adults, down from 61 percent in 1971, the Los Angeles Times reports.

ELECTION 2012

An NBC-Wall Street Journal poll finds 0 percent of African Americans support Mitt Romney, Politico reports. A New York Times poll finds voters lining up with President Obama on Medicare.

Scrutinizing national political party platforms is suddenly all the rage.

Akin consolidates his Evangelical base and pushes on.

Mitt Romney keeps saying President Obama is gutting the nation’s welfare law even though fact-checking organizations say the attack is false, NPR reports (via WBUR).

Karl Rove, who orchestrated a Republican victory in the 2004 election by turning out the party’s base, disputes the notion that the 2012 election will be won by a party turning out its base.

An East Longmeadow Selectman has resigned his post after he reportedly became a target of a voter fraud investigation.

Scott Brown’s wife Gail Huff urges voters to vote for Scott Brown.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Can the cloud be taxed? State officials offer some answers, WBUR reports.

EDUCATION

The head of the Lawrence Teachers Union, in an Eagle-Tribune op-ed, generally applauds the state “turnaround plan” for the city’s schools.

The administrator of the ACT college entrance test says more than half of graduating seniors aren’t college or career ready, Governing reports.

The Immaculate Conception Church in Salem terminates a lease with Boys & Girls Club to make way for Nativity Prep, the Salem News reports.

HEALTH CARE

More than 40 people took advantage of a buyout offer at Jordan Hospital in Plymouth but hospital officials say another 20 staffers will have to be laid off to close a $3.7 million shortfall caused by reduced payments from Medicare, Medicaid, and health insurers.

Massachusetts has spent about $1.1 million on mosquito spraying to combat EEE and West Nile Virus. The first human case of West Nile virus is found in New Hampshire, NECN reports.

TRANSPORTATION

The state is spending $10.9 million to reinforce the crumbling McCarthy Overpass in Somerville -- even though nearly everyone agrees that it would be better to take it down and redesign surface roads to accommodate the traffic that now flows overhead.

JetBlue explores bringing commercial service to the struggling Worcester Regional Airport.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The New York Times draws a link between the Obama administration and the Exelon Corp., a large owner of nuclear and natural gas-fired power plants. The Atlantic pushes back on the notion that the administration is having an outsized impact on the death of coal power, arguing that the free market is doing most of the heavy lifting. CommonWealth parsed a similar dynamic in Massachusetts last week. Government and industry officials are worried that supplies may not keep pace with increasing demand for lower-cost natural gas.

Mayor Tom Menino is taking advantage of the state’s Solarize Massachusetts program and installing solar panels on his home. CommonWealth looked at the expansion of the program earlier this summer.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Lowell Police conduct their third prostitution sweep of the summer, making 18 arrests, the Sun reports.

MEDIA

Britain’s notorious tabloid press hasn’t run any of the Las Vegas pictures of a naked Prince Harry. Find out why in this BBC report.

The Daily Beast explores the origins of the new Drag Queen Barbie.

News site home pages are not the landing spot for most readers anymore, so many websites use them for branding purposes, the Nieman Journalism Lab reports.

Keller@Large says it’s not the media’s responsibility to carry partisan water, though most people don’t believe it.

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