Dem v. Dem: Two candidates, one senate seat

Not to generalize, but Puget Sound is known for its progressive minded students, and hey, that often means voting Democrat with social issues in mind, like reproductive justice. And for some of us who have not taken the chance to sit down and earnestly interpret our complimentary voter’s guide, perhaps plan on voting a straight democratic ticket. Alas, you reach a point on your ballot when—gasp—two Democrats are running against each other. The seat is for State Senate, and the contenders are Jeannie Darneille and Jack Connelly.

This election women’s rights have been a particularly hot topic, with Romney’s comments on defunding Planned Parenthood and Akin’s “legitimate rape” quote, voters are seriously considering which candidates will best serve women and men alike. It is vital Tacomans know, despite Connelly’s alignment with the Democratic Party, he is anti-woman and gender equality. I know this may seems like an extreme claim, as the Fireman’s union endorses him; but the truth remains, Connelly actually funds anti-choice organizations and is personally anti-marriage equality.

Earlier in the race both Darneille and Connelly sought endorsements from the 27th District Democrats. Although the organization sometimes grants endorsements to two candidates, Darneille was the only one they endorsed. Darneille has also been endorsed by Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Washington. There is no question which candidate truly supports women; as a Representative Darneille fought to defend family planning and remains a pro-choice champion.

Connelly has been very strategic in his rhetoric regarding his stance on abortion, stating in one of his fliers, “It’s no secret, I am an Irish Catholic and personally opposed to abortion… On this issue, Washington State supports a woman’s right to choose. I am committed to the health and well-being of women, and to our children’s health…” But Connelly’s commitment thus far has only been exemplified through his donations to limited service pregnancy centers (LSPCs), also known as crisis pregnancy centers: non-profit organizations working to scare and shame women not to have abortions.

These anti-choice “clinics” pose as Planned Parenthoods or women’s health center’s, often with inconspicuous names, such as “Care Net,” our nearby nucleus of anti-choice propaganda. But they are not medical clinics by any means—run by organizations opposed to abortion, often religious, with their main goal to pressure women to not have abortions—these places exist to undermine and deceive vulnerable young women who go there seeking free medical help. They provide false information about abortion, contraception, and STIs, and do not protect patient privacy. What is really frightening is the thought of someone who proudly donates to LSPCs being in government and having a voice in political decisions about women’s health (or anything).

Connelly’s wife, Angela, was also reportedly seen protesting the Affordable Care Act’s mandate to cover birth control as a preventative medicine. Stating the mandate was “a challenge to the fabric, the core of our lives,” she views the mandate as an impediment to individual’s religious freedom. Such views are ignorant to the religious freedoms of other’s religions or lack thereof, and the vitality of affordable contraceptives for many low-income women.

With state officials on the frontline fighting to protect reproductive rights, this is a big election for gender equality. Darnielle is the only choice for Senate in Tacoma.

Dana Laurent, political director of Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest eloquently noted, “Not only is she a champion for women’s health, but her opponent is actively working to restrict women’s access to reproductive health. With family planning funding on the line again and again in Washington State’s budget, women need to know that their health care will be protected, and only Darneille has the record to prove she will do that.”