Controversial ad raises issue of abortion in Vt. governors race - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Controversial ad raises issue of abortion in Vt. governors race

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It's an ad war in the race for Vermont governor and a woman's right to choose is at the center of it.

Both candidates say they're pro-choice, but those following the final days of the race for governor will hear plenty about abortion.

"Phil Scott supported restrictions on a woman's right to choose," says one ad.

These ads suggest Republican Phil Scott is pro-life and Democrat Sue Minter is the right choice. They come from a political group affiliated with Planned Parenthood. An investigation by media partner Seven Days found that group is mostly funded by the Democratic Governor's Association.     

"Phil Scott's not different, he's just a typical Republican," says an ad by the Planned Parenthood Vermont Action Fund IE PAC

While a senator, Scott did sponsor a bill requiring the notification of a parent if a minor had an abortion.

He's also voiced support for a ban on partial birth abortion.

"Phil Scott is pro-choice and has always been pro-choice," says an Internet ad featuring former Planned Parenthood of Vermont Board Member Candy Moot.

She says Scott's positions don't make him anti-choice.

"I'm outraged and sickened that Planned Parenthood has distorted the position Phil Scott takes today and the position he's always taken," says Moot in the ad.

"The ad is distorting, but it's not wrong," said Keith Oppenheim, former CNN national correspondent and associate professor at Champlain College.

Oppenheim says misleading ads are part of political warfare, adding Moot's response is over the top as well.
Oppenheim doesn't expect the abortion battle to matter compared to the candidates broader governing philosophies.

"The election is not going to be decided on Phil Scott's position on abortion, give me a break," said Oppenheim.

The positions Scott supported line-up with those taken by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine.

WCAX asked Minter if she thinks the ads are misleading and if she would criticize her fellow Democrats.

She didn't directly answer either question.

"I know I am the only candidate in this race who is pro-choice without exception," said Minter.

When asked if a woman's right to choose is under threat in Vermont, she cited the hundreds of bills moving through statehouses across the county ignoring that the only bill proposed in Vermont over the last two years died a swift legislative death.

"I think it is very important here in Vermont we have a governor who won't roll back the clock," said Minter.

Reporter Kyle Midura: Are you suggesting Phil Scott would roll back the clock?

"I know I am the only candidate who is standing up for a woman's right to choose," said Minter.

"I think it's unfortunate that it's come down to being partisan," said Scott.

Scott says the ads are unfortunate, inaccurate and misleading.

But while he's been critical of Minter's refusal to say whether she would veto a carbon tax if she became governor, he dodged the same question about a parental notification bill landing on his desk.

Midura: Will you veto it?

Scott: I don't see that happening. I don't see anything like that happening in Vermont.

In a statement released Friday morning from the Planned Parenthood PAC's campaign manager Nick Charyk says the ads:

" ... present verifiable information about the differences between the candidates'  positions on access to abortion.  Sue Minter has consistently supported access to abortion without exception.  We would not be running these ads were Phil Scott's position the same. …Across the country, attacks on the abortion care that our patients depend on has reinforced the urgency of supporting leaders who believe that the government should not be involved in women's personal medical decisions ..."

Charyk formerly managed Matt Dunne's campaign during the Democratic primary.

He agreed to an interview Friday morning prior to releasing the statement, but later declined to speak with us.

Charyk says their lawyer advised him against the interview given a pending complaint filed by the Republican Party alleging illegal coordination between the group and the Minter campaign.

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