Carolyn McGraw

(Editor's note: Words in bold indicate a link to that particular source at the end of the report).

A real life David-and-Goliath battle is heating up in California’s newly formed 50th Congressional District. Republican incumbent, Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, is facing off against first-time political candidate, Democrat David Secor. The race is defined by large disparities in campaign finances and widely differing policy positions.

Hunter and Secor hold vastly different views on Social Security, Medicare, Roe v. Wade, access to birth control and other social issues which typify the divide between the Republican and Democratic parties. Among the most important economic issues on which the two candidates hold different opinions are policy differences surrounding family planning options, birth control and Roe v. Wade.

The ability of women to plan families and careers is crucial to ensure the economic well-being of American families. Unexpected pregnancies can derail a woman’s attainment of higher education and severely restrict her earning potential. This can have devastating effects on family finances.

A study by the family planning and maternal and child health (FPMCH) program shows access to family planning and health services through long-term public investment improves economic security for families, households and communities through larger incomes, greater accumulation of wealth and higher levels of education. Developing nations are increasingly investing in family planning as a method by which to alleviate poverty and hunger.

The gap in political policy positions between Hunter and Secor is mirrored by a large gulf in campaign finances. Hunter’s donations in 2011-2012 amounted to $692,950, according to opensecrets. Many of his donors are large corporations. Secor says his campaign contributions amount to less than $10,000. According to Secor’s campaign literature, he will accept no donation above $100.

Hunter is the son of former longtime California Rep. Duncan Lee Hunter who, according to an online biography, served more than 25 years in Congress. Hunter, a former Marine, ran for his father’s congressional seat when his father decided not to run in 2008. David Secor is a Vietnam veteran and retired Superior Court clerk. This is Secor’s first political race. In a telephone interview, Secor said he was compelled to run for office because he believes Hunter’s far right politics are not representative of the district in which he serves.

Hunter’s campaign website does not include his positions on Planned Parenthood, Roe v. Wade or access to reliable birth control, and his campaign office did not return phone calls in regards to this article. However, his views are clearly revealed by his voting record and legislation he has sponsored and co-sponsored. According to, Hunter voted for a “personhood” law, legislation to prohibit federal funding for Planned Parenthood, and voted to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act.

In a Feb 2012 telephone interview with Right Wing News, Hunter answered “yes” to the question of whether he would like to see Roe v. Wade overturned, “Yes. You know, I’m the author of the personhood-at-conception bill which right now has over 100 co-sponsors …that would define personhood as moment of conception, so, it would allow us to have a reversal of the effects of Roe v. Wade without a constitutional amendment.”

HR 374, Life at Conception Act, sponsored by Hunter, is one of a number of state and federal laws referred to as “personhood” laws. HR 374 would give equal protection “to each born and preborn person. “ The laws would execute an end run around Roe v. Wade. Roe v. Wade is the Supreme Court ruling which struck down the right of states to outlaw abortion. HR 374 would bestow all the rights of a person upon a fertilized human egg under the 14th Amendment. According to the, Oct 25, 2011, HR 374 and other “personhood” laws would deem abortion to be murder.

The less-discussed ramification of this legislation is that it would also make some of the most reliable methods of birth control illegal. An article in points out the IUD, morning after pill and birth control pills all work to prevent pregnancy by making the uterus inhospitable to a fertilized egg. Under such law a woman who took birth control pills, “the morning after pill” or used an IUD could conceivably be prosecuted for murder.

The Life at Conception Act also states, “...nothing in this Act shall be construed to require the prosecution of any woman for the death of her unborn child.” Chillingly, nothing in this bill prohibits prosecution of women for the death of unborn children. This raises the question of whether a spontaneous abortion brought on by an unintentional act by the mother could also be prosecuted as murder.

In a telephone interview Secor said he supports the Affordable Care Act, Roe v. Wade, access to affordable birth control and federal funding for Planned Parenthood. In a letter stating positions, Secor writes: “Re: abortion: It is not the function of government to legislate morality. A politician is obligated to represent ALL the people. Thus he or she may not attempt to make personal religious or moral beliefs, whether his or of the majority of his constituents, and regardless of how strongly held, into federal law.”

Since conservative GOP legislators won control of many state legislatures and the House of Representatives in 2010, over 1,100 reproductive health and rights related provisions, including “personhood” laws, have been introduced. Most are designed to restrict women’s access to legal abortion and birth control. This legislation strikes at the economic well-being of American families. The loss of access to birth control and legal abortion could define the economic future of American families making this one of the most important economic issues for women and their families in the 2012 election.

According to NARAL, anti-abortion leadership in the House of Representatives declared blocking women’s access to legal abortion as a “top priority.” In 2011 the House voted on 8 anti-choice measures.

A report by the American Civil Liberties Union states attacks on women’s rights at the state and federal level include: restricting contraception, cutting off funding for Planned Parenthood, state-mandated medically unnecessary ultra sounds, abortion taxes, abortion waiting periods, forcing women who want birth control coverage to tell employers why and prohibiting insurance companies from including abortion coverage in health care policies.

While much of the world is moving to increase the economic security of its citizens by investing in family planning, conservative American legislators have been working to dismantle established law which has made economic security possible for millions of American women. Laws to restrict access to family planning and eliminate access to birth control and legal abortion in the United States have been introduced in every state and the House of Representatives.

Law such as Hunter’s HR 374, Life at Conception Act would throw women back into the 1950s. A woman’s ability to plan her education, her career, her family and her life would be unalterably interrupted by such legislation. Each woman’s family would be similarly impacted.

The David-and-Goliath race between Secor and Hunter is an interesting study in contrasts between big money and small donations; between right wing conservative policy and progressive policy. It is representative of ideological battles playing out across the nation. The 2012 election will determine policy which will govern the economic future of millions of American families. Continued access to reliable birth control and abortion often decide women’s level of education and earning potential. These are critical factors in determining not only future financial well-being of women, but the financial security of American families.

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