Oregon GOP Senate Candidate Wehby Faking It as Pro-Choice Friendly
Aside from reports of her stalking her ex-husband and ex-boyfriend, most Oregon voters don't yet know much about pediatric neurosurgeon turned 2014 GOP Senate candidate Monica Wehby. But what Doctor Wehby really doesn't want pro-choice Oregonians to know is this: If elected to replace Democrat Jeff Merkley, Monica Wehby will be a reliable Republican vote to restrict women's reproductive rights and put anti-abortion zealots on the Supreme Court of the United States.
Of course, you'd never know that by perusing Dr. Wehby's website or trying to decipher her murky statements on the subject. 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."
Unfortunately, the good doctor has been very clear about her own litmus test and how she would apply it to future Supreme Court nominees. As a somewhat stunned Willamette Week recounted their editorial board meeting with Wehby and Republican rivals:
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.
If you have any doubt, consider how Monica Wehby's four favorite justices handled the issue of so-called "partial-birth abortion" in the 2007 case of Gonzales v. Carhart. 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 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!
Monica Wehby isn't giving voters any reliable data on her abortion position, either. But she is giving us clues with the company she keeps. On March 15, Wehby was joined at a fundraiser headlined by Oklahoma Senator and fellow physician Tom Coburn. As you might recall, Coburn's most famous contribution to the debate over Americans' reproductive rights was his 2004 declaration, "I favor the death penalty for abortionists and other people who take life." In January, neurosurgeon and anti-abortion zealot Ben Carson also travelled to Oregon to help Dr. Wehby fill her campaign coffers. Dr. Carson may "totally believe" that abortion "is murder," but he also correctly diagnosed that that belief will not turn the Oregon Senate seat Republican. As he explained to Newsmax:
"She has a very good value system -- she's running in the state of Oregon. Now she is criticized by some because she's pro-choice. Personally, she's pro-life and does everything just like I do to try to preserve life, but she's pragmatic also and she knows that there's no way you're going to win in Oregon with that stance," Carson told Malzberg of the Republican candidate.
"There's a difference between just being principled and saying, 'These are my principles; I can't deal with anything else,' and being principled and savvy," Carson said. "If you're not savvy along with your principles, you're not going anywhere."
If that formula sounds suspiciously familiar, it should. Mitt Romney used the same approach when he ran for Senate (1994) and Governor (2002) in pro-choice Massachusetts, only to do a complete 180 degree turn when he sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. As his one-time strategist Michael Murphy acknowledged in a rare moment of candor back in 2005:
"He's been a pro-life Mormon faking it as a pro-choice friendly."
That's why it was altogether fitting that Romney, too, made the pilgrimage to Portland to endorse the woman his former campaign staffer Charlie Pearce is trying to send to the Senate. Monica Wehby, Romney announced, can "bring trust and accountability back to Washington."
As even the fawning editors at the Oregonian agreed, Dr. Wehby has yet to prove that claim. "To correct this," they wrote," Wehby needs to introduce herself to Oregonians again and make the case that she can do the job Merkley currently has." She could start by telling the truth about her real support for the GOP's anti-abortion program and stop faking it as pro-choice friendly.