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June 21, 2002|
California gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon (R) [who claims to be pro-life although he justifies abortion for babies conceived through rape or incest] on Friday, May 31, told 1,200 women at a Los Angeles breakfast meeting that he would uphold the state's legal and constitutional "protections of reproductive freedom" if elected governor, the Los Angeles Times reports. "A governor does not and should not have the power to pick and choose the laws that will be enforced and the rights that will be recognized," Simon said at the breakfast, which was sponsored by The Women's TownHall, a non-partisan coalition of women's groups. He added, "I am pro-life with exceptions for rape, incest and where the life of the mother is threatened, but I understand that not everyone agrees with me on this subject."
Simon also said that he would not impose an abortion "litmus test" on judicial appointees (Finnegan, Los Angeles Times, 5/25/02). But Simon "sidestepped" questions on whether he would sign legislation to increase restrictions on access to abortion clinics or on waiting periods for legal abortions (Marinucci, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/25/02). Asked whether he would move to reduce state funding for abortion and abortion-related services, Simon said, "My understanding is that's all constitutionally protected." The "courts have found state funding for abortions for the poor to be guaranteed under the constitution," but "funding for reproductive health care, family planning and other services is not," the AP/Contra Costa Times reports. Simon spokesperson Jeff Flint said later that Simon would not "target [family planning] programs for elimination" in his budget proposals (Werner, AP/Contra Costa Times, 5/25/02).
Simon's comments about abortion rights were his "most expansive to date on an issue that he has sought unsuccessfully to avoid talking about -- an issue on which Gov. Gray Davis (D) has relentlessly hammered him as being out of step with mainstream California voters." (Marelius, San Diego Union-Tribune, 5/25/02). About two out of every three state voters support abortion rights. At the breakfast, Simon asked voters to "rise above the rancor and rhetoric so we can all respect each other's points of view" on abortion (Los Angeles Times, 5/25/02). He added, "People thought that [abortion] was a subject I didn't want to talk about. I'm willing to set forth my position. I just don't want to dwell on it." (San Francisco Chronicle, 5/25/02).
However, Laurie Beijen of the California Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League said that the group "would not trust Simon to protect abortion rights." She said, "Upholding the law is all well and good, but is he going to -abortion Democrat who is outspoken in his dedication to the agenda of the abortion lobby. He is the “immovable object” when it comes to liberal social policy, especially when it comes to the right to life in which he obviously does not believe.
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