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Does Monica Wehby Really Support Abortion Rights and Marriage Equality? Judge for Yourself

September 10, 2014

Until her current Oregon Senate run this year, millionaire neurosurgeon Monica Wehby's political career consisted of appearing in anti-Obamacare ads and pushing a ballot measure to limit medical malpractice awards. Now, Dr. Wehby is calling for upper class tax cuts, a balanced budget amendment and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the same Republican prescription for failure Oregon's increasingly Democratic voters have repeatedly rejected. That's why the woman best known for stalking both her ex-husband and boyfriend is pretending to be a pro-choice, pro-marriage equality moderate in blue Oregon. Sadly for Wehby, her endorsement of the Supreme Court's right-wing justices shows otherwise.

Of course, you'd never know that watching the powerful new ad featuring Wehby and Ben West, one of the plaintiffs in the litigation that ultimately struck down Oregon's ban on same-sex marriage. As Wehby explained to Politico:

"My opponent keeps trying to paint me as an extreme right-wing Republican, and that's actually not who I am. I'm a very independent-minded person, like our state. I've always felt government should stay out of it. This isn't a change in thought for me at all."

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court Justices Dr. Wehby likes best have no intention of keeping government out of "personal decisions" like marriage and abortion. As a somewhat stunned Willamette Week recounted their editorial board meeting with Wehby and Republican rivals earlier this year:

We asked all five candidates in this race a fairly simple question: which U.S. Supreme Court justice most closely mirrors your values? After one candidate named Justice Anthony Kennedy, Wehby piggybacked on the answer. After Conger gave a ringing endorsement of arch-conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, Wehby awkwardly changed her answer to Scalia as well. (Outside the interview, she told us she really meant to say Chief Justice John Roberts, but that she actually likes Justice Samuel Alito best of all.)

That certainly sounds like someone who Republicans can count on to block any Supreme Court selections President Barack Obama might make and to rubber stamp any hardliner a President Ted Cruz or President Paul Ryan might elevate to the highest court in the land. Monica Wehby may claim that marriage equality for gay Americans is "not a government decision," but her man Antonin Scalia believes "legislative bodies can ban what they believe to be immoral."
And when it comes to abortion rights, those four conservatives along with Clarence Thomas have been quite happy to stand between a woman and her doctor. After all, the supposed "swing justice" Anthony Kennedy who has guided the Court in recognizing rights for gay Americans has been one of the harshest critics of abortion access. Joined by Justices Alito and Scalia as well as Chief Justice John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion for the 5-4 Court in the 2007 Gonzales v. Carhart "partial birth abortion" case. In his opinion, Kennedy (who in his 2000 dissent in Stenberg v. Carhart used the incendiary term "abortionist" no fewer than 13 times) dismissed the Court's "health of the mother" exception and instead enshrined the thoroughly debunked myth of "post-abortion syndrome" as law. As the Washington Post's Ruth Marcus recalled:

"Respect for human life finds an ultimate expression in the bond of love the mother has for her child," Kennedy intoned. This is one of those sentences about women's essential natures that are invariably followed by an explanation of why the right at stake needs to be limited. For the woman's own good, of course.
Kennedy continues: "While we find no reliable data to measure the phenomenon, it seems unexceptionable to conclude some women come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained." No reliable data? No problem!

It's doubtless no problem for Dr. Monica Wehby, either. Hoping to represent a Republican Party whose platform calls for a "Human Life Amendment" banning all abortions, would-be Senator Wehby can change her message as audiences demand. In March, she explained to the Medford, Oregon Christian station The Dove, "Those of us who are us that are pro-life, we need to extend a culture of life in society." (See the video above, beginning around the 11:30 mark.) Yet Wehby also proclaimed, "I believe this is a personal decision between a woman and her family, not a woman and the federal government." And during her primary campaign against three Republican anti-abortion hardliners, the evasive Wehby tried to occupy every position--and no position--simultaneously:

She said her Catholic background and work taking care of children informed her "personally pro-life," stance on abortion, but said those views weren't going to change the Supreme Court's ruling in Roe v. Wade.
"The Supreme Court ruled that this is, that abortion is supposed to be safe and legal," Wehby said. "And that's where we are. I don't think this should be used as a litmus test for people."

Of course she doesn't want her pro-life views viewed as a litmus test by Oregon voters because she would be certain to lose. And if she becomes a United States Senator, Dr. Wehby will doubtless help her Republican Party curb the reproductive rights of American women and the civil rights of gay Americans. To put it another way, Dr. Monica Wehby is not an independent-minded moderate; she just plays one on TV. Just look at the company she keeps and judge for yourself.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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