Gekas apologizes to Scott over email
By PETER HIRSCHFELD
Vermont Press Bureau | September 15,2012
Democratic/Progressive candidate for lieutenant governor Cassandra Gekas is apologizing for a fund-raising email in which a prominent supporter claims that her Republican opponent is pro-life.
But the 30-year-old political newcomer said Friday that Vermonters should nonetheless be concerned about restrictions Phil Scott might seek to impose on abortion rights.
In a plea for donations sent out by the Gekas campaign, Ben & Jerry’s cofounder Jerry Greenfield tries to underscore the urgency of the race by claiming incumbent Phil Scott is “against a woman’s right to choose.”
Greenfield, who is serving as Gekas’ campaign treasurer, also said Scott is against gay marriage.
In fact, Scott is pro-choice, and voted in favor of marriage equality in 2009, much to the chagrin, he said, of some of his friends and family members.
“I admittedly I was a bit disappointed when read that (letter) and thought it was filled with misinformation,” Scott said during a debate at the Tunbridge World’s Fair, broadcast on WDEV’s Mark Johnson Show Friday. “It reminds me of what happens in Washington, D.C., when we have this divisiveness … They keep repeating inaccuracies in order for people to start believing them.”
Gekas said the language used in the fundraising plea “was too strong, and I take full responsibility for that.”
But on the issue of abortion rights, Gekas said she remains concerned by aspects of Scott’s platform.
“The lieutenant governor has stated he’s pro-choice, but with significant restrictions,” Gekas said. “And the restrictions he supports are part of a larger platform and effort across the country to limit access to abortion services and part of concerted effort to roll back Roe versus Wade piece by piece.”
Specifically, Gekas took aim at Scott’s answers to a 2010 candidate survey conducted by Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. In it, Scott noted his support for parental notification for minors, as well as his opposition to federal funding for abortion services and late-term abortion. Scott on Friday stood by those positions.
“I have two daughters,” Scott said. “I wanted to know what was going on in their life and I wanted to be there to support them … and that if something like that arose, I would be there to help them through what has to be significant ordeal.”
Gekas said some young women don’t enjoy the same kind of tight relationship that Scott’s daughters seem to have had with him.
In situations involving domestic or sexual violence, she suggested, forcing a pregnant teenager to seek the counsel of a parent can make a bad situation worse.
“If you have a relationship with your children that is positive ... then you don’t need a law to mandate that they let you know,” Gekas said. “Fundamentally this is about choice, and a young woman’s right to choose whether she will carry that pregnancy to term.”
Gekas said Scott’s support for things like fetal homicide laws — statutes that endow a fetus with “personhood” — should be of concern to supporters of Roe versus Wade, especially as it comes under attack nationally.
Scott on Friday said that after six months of pregnancy, “I would consider that fetus a child.”
“There is a very valid slippery slope argument to this,” Gekas said of her opposition to restrictions on abortion rights. “What I am trying to do is simply hold ground on current law in Vermont and in the country at a time when may many people are trying to roll that law back.”