Abortion Goes Front And Center In Alabama Senate Race

A pro-Trump super PAC released an ad attacking Democrat Doug Jones on the issue.

A pro-Donald Trump super PAC put out its first ad in the Alabama Senate race Thursday, going after Democrat Doug Jones as being extreme on abortion. 

“Jones supports abortion in even the most extreme circumstances, including gruesome late-term and partial-birth abortions that are banned in countries across the world,” says the narrator in the ad from Great America Alliance, which started during the 2016 election to support Trump’s run for president.

The 30-second spot shows Jones standing in a scary, dingy room and calls him “deceptive and dangerous.” It will be running on TV beginning next week.

The ad centers on an MSNBC interview Jones did on Sept. 27. Host Chuck Todd asked Jones what “limitations” he believes there should be when it comes to abortion.

“I am a firm believer that a woman should have the freedom to choose what happens to her own body,” Jones said. “And I’m going to stand up for that and I’m going to make sure that that continues to happen.”

More from the interview: 

TODD: But you wouldn’t legislate ― so you wouldn’t be in favor of legislation that said ban abortion after 20 weeks or something like that?

JONES: No, I’m not in favor of anything that is going to infringe on a woman’s right and her freedom to choose. That’s just the position that I’ve had for many years. It is a position that I continue to have.

But when those people ― I want to make sure people understand that once a baby is born, I’m going to be there for that child. And that’s where I become a right-to-lifer.

Jones has made no secret of his support for women’s reproductive rights. On Sept. 23, he posted a photo of himself at a Planned Parenthood event.

Republicans supporting Jones’ opponent, the far-right conservative Roy Moore, have gone on the attack about Jones’ abortion views. 

Terry Lathan, the chair of the Alabama Republican Party, said she’d be thrilled if Planned Parenthood would come to the state to campaign for Jones: “I would encourage outside groups to come to Alabama that support the Democrat nominee — Planned Parenthood, MoveOn.org, who has already endorsed him, Hollywood elites and any Clinton available would be more than welcome to remind our voters who the Democrats are.” 

The Jones campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Elizabeth BeShears, a communications consultant in Alabama who identifies as a libertarian, said she has been surprised to see that the Jones campaign hasn’t responded more forcefully to the burgeoning abortion attacks. 

“You know this is going to be used against you, [so] respond quickly,” she said. “It just seems [more] like a tactical error on the side of the Jones campaign than an actual policy position.”

“If the Republicans say enough, it’ll become true, whether it is or not,” she added. “Which is why it’s so important to get out there as quickly as possible and refute the narrative that is trying to be built.” 

Jones has so far tried to focus his campaign on what he calls “kitchen table” issues like education, jobs and health care, although he hasn’t shied away from taking progressive positions on social issues ― which inevitably come up with Moore in the race.

As the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Moore made a national name for himself by being socially conservative. He said Alabama didn’t have to abide by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling saying marriage equality is the law of the land, and he defied a federal judge’s order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building. 

Moore has advocated the concept of “personhood,” which believes that fertilized eggs, zygotes, embryos and fetuses are persons and have full legal protections. In other words, a woman has no right to an abortion. 

Steve Bannon, who left the White House to return as chairman of Breitbart News, has been a vocal backer of Moore’s. That put him at odds with the GOP establishment ― including Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who were backing Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) in the primary. 

Both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the McConnell-backed Senate Leadership Fund, which supported Strange, have said they have no plans to put money into the race to help Moore. 

“Doug Jones’ best chance is to get people who have a distaste for Moore out to vote for him regardless of the social issues. The numbers are there, if he does it right,” BeShears said, noting there are still moderate Republicans in the state who are considering having a Democrat in office rather than Moore representing Alabama on the national stage. 

Part of that calculation is that Jones may be there for just two years to fill out the term ― and then after that, in the regular election, a more mainstream Republican will run and be able to retake the seat Jeff Sessions vacated to become Trump’s attorney general. 

The general election to fill the seat is Dec. 12. 

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