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Fiorina and Boxer spar over abortion

June 9, 2010 |  1:11 pm

The general-election contest between California Sen. Barbara Boxer and Carly Fiorina has just begun, but even in a year when voters’ main concern is the economy, it’s already shaping up to be a potentially vicious battle over abortion rights.

Though Boxer has long been the champion of abortion-rights groups, Fiorina has said she supports overturning Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion. And her endorsements by prominent anti-abortion groups, including the California ProLife Council and the Susan B. Anthony List, helped solidify her credentials as a conservative during the primary contest. 

Fiorina’s position puts her at odds with the majority of California voters. Last year, two-thirds of Californians said they opposed overturning Roe vs. Wade,  according to a poll by the Public Policy Institute of California. Among independents — who would be critical to Fiorina’s bid to defeat Boxer since Democrats outnumber Republicans in California — only 28% said they favored completely overturning the 1973 decision.

During an interview from Washington on Tuesday, Boxer said Fiorina’s position on abortion was out of step with most voters. “She wants to make it a crime, and that would mean women and doctors in jail,” Boxer said. “That is so out of touch with Californians.”

On Wednesday morning in Anaheim, Fiorina did not directly answer a question about whether there should be criminal penalties for women and doctors if Roe vs. Wade were to be overturned.

But when asked about Boxer’s charge, she replied: “That’s a ridiculous statement.”

“I happen to believe in the sanctity of life, but the great majority of Californians disagree with Barbara Boxer, who believes that taxpayers should be funding partial-birth abortion,” Fiorina said, speaking to reporters after her speech at a Republican breakfast in Anaheim. “Barbara Boxer is really trying to change the subject. The subject in this election is jobs. The subject in this election is out-of-control government.”

-- Maeve Reston, in Anaheim