Washington GOP Senate nominee Smiley dodges questions about exceptions to abortion bans

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Washington state Republican Senate candidate Tiffany Smiley lied about incumbent Democrat Patty Murray's position on abortion while avoiding clarifying her own.

In a recent radio interview, Washington Republican Senate nominee Tiffany Smiley was asked three separate times whether she supports allowing victims of rape and incest who become pregnant to terminate their pregnancies. The self-described "100% pro-life" candidate changed the subject and dodged the question all three times.

Smiley is challenging Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, a pro-choice leader in Congress, in the November midterm election.

Appearing on Seattle-based Northwest Newsradio on Sept. 28, Smiley was asked about her position on abortion.

"You have said you are 100% pro-life, but I just want to clarify where you stand on exceptions, if we're talking about the life of the mother or rape or incest," host Ryan Harris first asks her.

Smiley responds: "Yeah, so, I addressed this issue in my campaign right away. … I was very clear and on the record that I oppose a federal abortion ban. I am personally pro-life, but look, there's good people on both sides of the aisle. … And I know, what I can fight for is, when women are at a point of crisis, I want them to have every resource that they need to make the best choice." She adds: "And you know, the Washington state voters long decided where they stand on the issue. So I respect the will of the voters here in Washington state and again, oppose a federal abortion ban. I have been very clear about that."

She then falsely charges that Murray would change Washington state law if she could: "She would want taxpayer-funded abortion on demand, all the way to the point of birth. And that is not where 81% of Americans are. I stand with 81% of Americans on this issue."

"OK, I understand and appreciate that answer," Harris responds, "but it didn't actually answer the question that I was hoping to clarify, and that's where you stand on exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother in danger."

The video freezes as Smiley begins to answer; when it starts again, Smiley is repeating that she respects the will of Washington state voters and then pivots to accusing Murray of doing nothing about issues of baby formula shortages and gas prices and listing others that she calls "real issues that are deeply affecting Washington voters every single day."

Harris apologizes for his Zoom feed freezing and asks again for Smiley's views on exceptions to abortion bans.

Smiley responds: "I would say, medical ethics, you will always protect the life of a mother. And that is true across the board," before repeating again that she respects the will of Washington state voters. She says: "I will fight to ensure that women in Washington state have access, affordable, timely access to contraception, health care, child care, and unlike Sen. Murray, I will get it done." She does not address exceptions in cases of rape or incest.

Smiley is the latest in a long line of Republicans who have repeated the lie that Democrats want to allow abortion up until the moment of birth.

Murray supports the Women's Health Protection Act, a bill that would codify the right to choose an abortion up until the time a fetus is viable to live on its own outside the womb. This standard was established by the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling and was the law of the land until the Republican-appointed majority on the court overturned it in June.

The rulling in Roe and the proposed bill both expressly allow for restrictions on abortions after the point of viability as long as they include exceptions when a pregnancy poses a serious health risk.

According to polling, 61% of voters in Washington believe abortion should be mostly legal and 34% believe it should be mostly illegal.

Smiley has tried to finesse her opposition to abortion rights throughout the campaign. In one campaign ad, she accuses Murray of having "spent millions to paint me as an extremist. I'm pro-life, but I oppose a federal abortion ban." Her campaign agenda page makes no mention of her abortion views.

In September 2021, the Hill reported that Smiley told reporters she agreed with a Texas law that banned abortion at six weeks' gestation and said: "While I'm pro-life, I often say I am pro-woman first. … And I think if we're really going to be pro-life, we have to be pro-woman first. It means ensuring that keeping that child isn't a ticket to poverty or a ticket to a lack of education."

Smiley said of the Texas law, "There's a lot of parts of it that make it very hard for me in Washington state."

On social media, she "liked" a 2017 tweet by Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA) endorsing a federal ban on abortions after 20 weeks and a January 2022 tweet in which Fox News contributor Elizabeth Economou shared a call by Murray to pass the Women's Health Protection Act and wrote: "#AbortionisMurder @PattyMurray. Vote @SmileyForWA."

A Smiley campaign spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

While she claims to be "pro-woman," Smiley was a headliner for a GOP "Take Back the Senate" fundraising event in September hosted by Keith Rabois and David Sacks, two wealthy tech donors associated with right-wing PayPal founder Peter Thiel who have in the past dismissed statutory and date rape as "a moral directive left on the books by pre-sexual revolution crustaceans" and "seductions that were later regretted." They have since distanced themselves from those and other writings, including anti-LGBTQ comments.

And while she claims not to be an extremist, Smiley has also liked tweets by her close friend and anti-LGBTQ evangelist Franklin Graham against unisex restrooms, transgender armed service members, and same-sex marriage.

Murray has been endorsed for reelection by both NARAL Pro-Choice America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.