U.S. SENATE : Abortion Rights Groups Criticize Huffington Record


A coalition of abortion rights groups assailed U.S. Senate candidate Michael Huffington on Thursday as an abortion opponent masquerading as an abortion rights legislator, citing a series of nine votes he has cast in less than two years in Congress.

Marcela Howell, executive director of the California Abortion Rights Action League, said she and other activists were speaking out against Huffington, a Republican, because he describes himself as a supporter of abortion rights.

Huffington, who represents the Santa Barbara area in Congress, is seeking the Senate seat held by Democrat Dianne Feinstein. Feinstein received the abortion rights league’s endorsement before the June primary.


“We were just getting tired of having Michael Huffington say he was a pro-choice legislator,” Howell said. “. . . Two years ago, we had a man saying he was pro-choice. Now he has a voting record, and it’s not a pretty one.”

A spokesman for Huffington’s campaign said that the congressman generally favors abortion rights and that Feinstein and the groups speaking against Huffington were extremist.

“Mike Huffington is in the mainstream, not the extreme, and her position is in line with extremist elements,” spokesman Marc Thiessen said of Feinstein.

Feinstein supports abortion rights without exception. Thiessen said Huffington supports some exceptions: He supports parental notification before abortions for minors, he opposes federal funding for abortions and opposes third-trimester abortions for the purpose of sex selection.

In his 1992 campaign statements, however, Huffington did not mention those exclusions. He says that he opposes parental consent before abortions for minor without mentioning his support of parental notification laws.

And on the issue of federal funding, Huffington’s campaign platform said that he believes “all women should have access to reproductive choice, regardless of their ability to pay. He supports local and state funding of abortions, and federal funding if there is no alternative.”


Yet in one of the votes cited by Howell and others, Huffington voted against allowing the city of Washington to use local funds to provide abortions.

“We believe that a pro-choice candidate is one who would not vote to restrict a woman’s access and that’s what he does in voting against access to clinics and against funding for the District of Columbia,” said Jane Hasler Henick, president of the California branch of the National Women’s Political Caucus.

Thiessen said Huffington voted against the Washington measure because it was part of a “massive, huge, fat appropriations bill” that had been turned into a referendum on abortion.

“He supports the principle of local funding but that bill had absolutely nothing to do with that issue,” Thiessen said. Huffington’s other actions cited by the abortion rights groups include his refusal to be a sponsor of the Freedom of Choice Act, which would codify the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision. Huffington, in his campaign literature, says that he supports the act.

And although he voted for final passage of a bill that was meant to provide medical clinics freedom from anti-abortion blockades, he sanctioned five amendments and other measures that abortion rights supporters said were intended to kill the bill.

Overall, Huffington has been given a 20% rating by the National Abortion Rights Action League, while Feinstein has a 100% rating.


Howell said she believes Huffington’s record will sway Republican women who support abortion rights from Huffington and into Feinstein’s camp. Huffington spokesman Thiessen, however, said he believes the issue will have no impact.

“If the 6% of extremists on this issue are going to oppose Mike Huffington because he supports parental notification, they weren’t going to vote for us anyway,” he said.