Claim of candidates' support of 'abortion on demand' roil West Boise legislative races

Idaho Chooses Life claims in a new mailer that Democrats Betty Richardson and Steve Berch "support abortion on demand" and calls them "pro-abortion liberals threatening preborn children with increased abortion rates."

Richardson and Berch swiftly responded Friday with statements calling the group's claims false, shameless and a hatchet job.

“I have never taken such positions, and I never will,” Richardson said. “I understand that attacks on candidates for public office are broadly covered by free speech rights, but there is a limit, and I have consulted an attorney regarding a possible defamation action. It’s time someone stood up to bullies who peddle blatant lies for political gain.”

Said Berch: "My neighbors in West Boise are reasonable people who expect their representatives to have integrity, so I know they will recognize the recent mailer from Idaho Chooses Life for what it is — a blatantly false, embarrassing political hatchet job that reflects poorly on my opponent, Mark Patterson. West Boise voters will rightfully greet this extreme and desperate mailer with skepticism and distrust."

Richardson and Berch have said they would have voted against the 2012's Legislature's bill requiring women who seek abortions to first have an ultrasound. Their opponents, Republicans Fred Martin and Mark Patterson, respectively, have declined to say how they would have voted on Senate Bill 1387, which passed the Senate but died in the House without a vote after Republicans raised objections.

District 15 is historically Republican but offers two of the most competitive contests in Idaho for open seats long held by two moderate Republican lawmakers, Sen. John Andreason and Rep. Max Black. Andreason is retiring after 18 years, Black after 20.

In an interview, Martin told the Statesman he couldn't say how he would have voted on the ultrasound mandate, but added, "I had problems with the bill because it didn't have exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.... I am pro-life, but I cannot figure out how I could write something that would encourage someone not to have an abortion. I don't know what words there are."

Martin said he had nothing to do with the mailer, which was an independent expenditure allowed by Idaho law. He declined Richardson's demand that he release his completed questionnaire for the group. Richardson and Berch did not fill out the form. Said Martin: "I'll release mine if she releases the information she provided Planned Parenthood when they endorsed her for Congress in 2002 and contributed to her campaign."

Richardson said she'll try and locate her 2002 questionnaire. She said she didn't complete the 2012 survey from Planned Parenthood because she felt the questions were "a little bit loaded."

Said Patterson: "I knew nothing about it until it was a postcard in the mail. In fact the card blew me away, I just took it for granted that ICL would do another card like he did during the primary."

In the Idaho Statesman Voter Guide, Patterson said he was pro-life, but declined to answer whether he supports an ultrasound requirement. He did reply that the 2012 bill "is history never to be seen again."

Idaho Chooses Life is run by David Ripley, once a prominent pro-choice advocate. He managed Democrat Ron Twilegar's losing 1990 U.S. Senate campaign against Republican Larry Craig. Ripley helped create an ad attacking Craig for his pro-life views which featured scores of coat-hangers rotating in a laundry.

Now, Ripley is executive director of Idaho Chooses Life.

Said Ripley: "I'm sorry Betty and Berch are upset about the facts being exposed to District 15 voters. Their whole election effort hinges upon keeping families in the dark about their actual agenda and values. Betty has long been an advocate of abortion rights and the Democratic Party, which has become increasingly radicalized with respect to abortion-on-demand under the leadership of President Obama. Her historical support from groups like Planned Parenthood demonstrate her radical views on partial birth abortion, taxpayer-funded abortions and interference with the family's decision making. Before folks cast their ballots, they have a right to know what she is about."

The full statements of Richardson and Berch follow:

Richardson:

October 26, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Betty Richardson, 939-0963

SENATE CANDIDATE BETTY RICHARDSON DECRIES ‘DISHONEST AND SHAMELESS’ MAILER

BOISE – District 15 Senate candidate Betty Richardson today denounced “a dishonest and shameless” mailer sent by Idaho Chooses Life Executive Director David Ripley. Richardson said that the post card sent to residents of District 15 falsely accuses her of supporting “abortion on demand” and “unlimited abortion at taxpayer expense.”

“I have never taken such positions, and I never will,” Richardson said. “I understand that attacks on candidates for public office are broadly covered by free speech rights, but there is a limit, and I have consulted an attorney regarding a possible defamation action. It’s time someone stood up to bullies who peddle blatant lies for political gain.”

Richardson said her stance on abortion is simple, straightforward and consistent. “My position also happens to be the position that the United States has taken for the last 40 years – a woman’s access to an abortion in the early stages of pregnancy should be legal.”

Richardson said she will work to reduce the rate of abortion. “We will not bring the abortion rate down by making criminals of women or doctors, or by promoting the thoroughly discredited ultrasound legislation we saw introduced last year. Abortion rates plummet when women have access to quality health care and have the information and resources they need to avoid unwanted pregnancies.”

“As a state senator, I will look for common-ground solutions,” Richardson said. I believe that people of good will, whatever their political persuasion, can come together on this.” Richardson said that she strongly supports adoption and would encourage the state to do more to support foster care and adoption services. “Many children are in need of permanent, safe, and loving homes, and we should look for ways to help these children, families who wish to adopt, and birth parents.”

“Some people think they can get away with launching dishonest attacks just before the election,” Richardson said. “My opponent should reject the support of an organization that would resort to such despicable tactics, and I call upon him to do so.

"I also call upon him to release his responses to the Idaho Chooses Life questionnaire. In his interview with the Statesman editorial board and his written response to the Statesman questionnaire, he refused to answer how he would have voted on the ultrasound bill. It would be revealing to learn if he told David Ripley something he wouldn’t tell the voters.”

Berch:

October 26, 2012

District 15 voters receive blatantly false mailer from Idaho Chooses Life

Steve Berch’s opponent, Mark Patterson still refuses to face West Boise voters in person

Boise, Idaho – Steve Berch, candidate for House Seat 15B responded to a political mailer sent earlier this week to voters in West Boise’s District 15 by Idaho Chooses Life. Here is the text of Berch’s response:

“The best thing about running an honest and transparent campaign that involves meeting thousands of my neighbors is that I actually get to know the people of District 15 – and they get to know me.

My neighbors in West Boise are reasonable people who expect their representatives to have integrity, so I know they will recognize the recent mailer from Idaho Chooses Life for what it is — a blatantly false, embarrassing political hatchet job that reflects poorly on my opponent, Mark Patterson. West Boise voters will rightfully greet this extreme and desperate mailer with skepticism and distrust.

People in this community wonder why my opponent remains silent and lets extreme interest groups do the talking for him. Patterson has now turned down three opportunities to engage the public or face me in head-to-head debates. West Boise voters wonder why Patterson won’t talk to them in person, in his own voice.

They are concerned he told the Idaho Statesman that he wants to try raising the state sales tax to 10-11%, and that we can have a very poor education system yet still have a good economy. The more Patterson refuses to talk to the public, the more West Boise voters wonder who he really is. A candidate who can’t be bothered to even show up at any public events can’t be trusted to do the hard work of being a Representative.
I will continue meeting with voters in person and in public forums to give them every opportunity to ask me questions and get to know who Steve Berch really is. After seeing the latest Idaho Chooses Life mailer, I am happy to compare the honesty and earnestness of my campaign with that of Mark Patterson and the extremists that support him.”

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1351286778 Claim of candidates' support of 'abortion on demand' roil West Boise legislative races Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Mr. Ripley is an example of what people dislike about politics

His unfair, inaccurate, personal ambush attacks on candidates (including Republicans) are nasty and uncalled for.

I hope people will see through the exaggeration and look at the candidates' actual positions on the issues before making a choice.

Is abortion really the top priority in Idaho right now? It's not like there will ever be enough votes to provide abortion on demand in Idaho. It is ridiculou to think that this is a priority issue for the legislature. ICL is trying to create issues where they don't exist.

wow, they must be really worried

about Betty Richardson and Steve Berch. Well, if the Republicans put up extremist candidates like Mark Patterson, they deserve what they get.

Sexist

Why does Ripley refer to Betty by her first name, but Steve by his last?

Cheap shot!

True conservatives want to keep the government out of the boardroom, bedroom, gun room and womb.

This group is Idaho's Taliban.

Checked my mailbox after reading this article (I live in 15) and didn't get one of the offensive mailings.

Maybe it's because my immediate neighbors and I have Berch and Richardson signs in our yards?

I didn't know Mr. Berch from Adam, but he came by and I listened to his positions on Idaho issues, and I found him reasonable and sincere.

Can't say the same for his opponent, whom I've never seen, met, or heard from regarding anything.

Shame on ICL!

If ICL thinks a shocking photo with a pack of lies about two stellar candidates will intimate voters, they are WRONG! People of District 15 are smart enough to see through their scare tactics. Do something productive with your time and money, ICL. How about doing some volunteer work and donating your excessive money to the Women and Children's Alliance.

Politics At Its Worst

Just when we thought that Idaho may have escaped some of the worst, negative political ads that the swing states are being subjected to...the ICL rears their ugly head. Why are they so concerned about D15? I hope the voters there recognize the kind of group they are and ignore these lies.

You know it's crap when PREborn replaces UNborn.

LOser, Looser too, standing up for the bereaved misspellers.

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