Sen. Kelly Ayotte at a town hall meeting in Goffstown, NH in February

Apr 3, 2015 10:36 AM

Steinhauser: New TV ad attacks Ayotte over abortion

NH1 Political Director -

CONCORD – Coming to New Hampshire television: A new ad criticizing Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte's position in a heated battle over a bill that would assist victims of sex trafficking.

NARAL Pro-Choice America says it’s going up with a 30 second spot on cable statewide in the Granite State that urges Ayotte to end what they describe as her “obstruction” of the measure because it allows victims access to abortion.

“Women and girls sold into labor and sex trafficking against their will. Their freedom stolen. They’re tortured and repeatedly raped. Eighty percent ending up pregnant, often multiple times. A Senate bill would help survivors of sex trafficking get their lives back on track, but Sen. Kelly Ayotte refuses to support it unless survivors are denied access to abortion care,” says the narrator in the commercial.

“Call Sen. Ayotte and tell her it’s wrong to use survivors as political pawns. Support a clean Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act,” adds the narrator as the spot concludes.

NARAL Pro-Choice America, a national non-profit organization that engages in political action to expand access to abortion and oppose abortion restrictions, says their commercial will run for a week on the three major cable news networks, CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC. But a GOP source that tracks ad buys told NH1 News that NARAL was only spending $1,375 to run the spot in the Granite State.

Ayotte has described herself as “pro-life.” She signed the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” which would have prohibited any federal funds from being used for any health benefits coverage that includes coverage of abortion. But the measure made exemptions on funding for abortions if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or if a woman faced the danger of death unless an abortion was performed.

In March 15 procedural vote, Ayotte supported the trafficking bill, with Democrats opposing the legislation.

Ayotte, a former state attorney general, was first elected to the Senate in 2010 and is up for re-election next year. With a wider presidential electorate that often favors Democrats, Ayotte could face a difficult re-election next year, and her seat is one that national Democrats are targeting. Two-term Gov. Maggie Hassan is mulling a Democratic challenge against Ayotte.

NH1 has reached out to Ayotte aides for reaction to the new commercial.

Meanwhile, the National Republican Senatorial Committee as well as New Hampshire GOP chair Jennifer Horn weighed in.

"It's disappointing that extreme partisan groups are more interested in scoring cheap political points than they are with helping women and children who have been victimized by human traffickers. Senator Ayotte has a long record of supporting this bipartisan legislation to help victims of human trafficking," said NRSC communications director Andrea Bozek.

"It is outrageous that a liberal, out of state, special interest group backing Governor Hassan’s Senate campaign would try politicize this important issue with false ads. This legislation was introduced and passed through committee with strong bipartisan support. Senate Democrats then decided to play politics with the lives of trafficking victims by repeatedly blocking the bill, which Senator Ayotte supported as a part of her longstanding efforts to fight for those affected by horrific trafficking crimes. This is appalling political theater at its worst” Horn said in a statement.

The New Hampshire Democratic Party quickly fired back.

"This effort by a leading women's health group underscores just how recklessly Kelly Ayotte is acting as she sides with Republican leadership against human trafficking victims. There is no place for measures restricting women's access to health care in human trafficking bill," NHDP Chairman Ray Buckley said in a statement.

NARAL is also launching similar spots against Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, and Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, who also face challenge re-elections in 2016.

“It’s disturbing to watch these senators put their own ideology ahead of the lives of women who have been through so much already,” said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, in a statement.

“The bill’s clear intention is to help survivors of human trafficking regain control of their lives, yet the first thing these senators want to do is tell them they can’t even have control over their own bodies.”


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