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September 23, 2009 at 11:44 AM

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Hutchison steers clear of abortion rights questions

Posted by Bob Young

Susan Hutchison declined to finish the endorsement process with the National Women's Political Caucus of Washington state because she did not want to take a position on abortion rights and the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

Hutchison, a candidate for King County executive, interviewed with members of the group Sept. 12, according to Linda Mitchell, state caucus president. "She withdrew from the process when we made it clear she would have to take a position on choice," Mitchell said.

Specifically, Mitchell said that Hutchison filled out the group's questionnaire, but gave an incomplete response to a key question. It asked if she supported a woman's right to reproductive freedom as defined by Roe v. Wade, Hutchison replied that she would uphold the law of the land, according to Mitchell.

"We then told her we would need a 'yes' or 'no' on that queston if she wanted an endorsement. When we made it clear that's what was required, she declined to answer. We left on a positive note," Mitchell said. "She didn't say she wasn't pro-choice but didn't say she was, which is what we need to happen."

Hutchison said she didn't "want to make their litmus test an issue in this race."

She had said from the start of her campaign she wouldn't publicly take a stand on abortion rights because it's a divisive issue not relevant to the executive's job. (Others argue it is relevant because the county funds health clinics that provide family planning services to low-income women.)

She maintained that stance regarding the National Women's Political Caucus. "There are a lot of issues we stand together on but we're not going to bring their litmus test into this race. I did not get into this race to divide people."

"That was my takeaway," Mitchell said. "She has consistently tried not to take a stand on that position."

Mitchell said the King County chapter of the caucus has recommended Hutchison's opponent, Dow Constantine, to its members. (The chapter doesn't endorse male candidates, but it "recommends" them when it doesn't endorse women.)

Would Hutchison have gotten the endorsement if she answered the question?
"It's hard to say," Mitchell concluded.

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Jim Brunner
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