Sixth District Republican Congressman Ben Cline does a good job of disguising himself as a sensible mainstream conservative. He comes across as even-tempered and tends to avoid the incendiary and dangerous rhetoric of his far-right House Freedom Caucus colleagues Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert.
But don’t be fooled. On certain issues – like the right of women and girls to control their bodies – Ben Cline is an extremist.
You may recall the recent awful case of a 10-year-old Ohio girl who became pregnant as a result of rape. Due to Ohio’s strict anti-abortion law, she had to leave the state to end her pregnancy.
Under laws supported by Congressman Cline, both as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates and as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, that child would have been forced to give birth.
In the House of Delegates in 2012, Cline co-sponsored a bill (HB 1) that would have defined life as beginning at conception – outlawing abortions at any stage of pregnancy and under any circumstances.
Cline is among the House Republicans who signed onto a resolution calling for a vote on the Life at Conception Act (HR 1011), which declares “equal protection for the right to life of each born and preborn human person” under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The Life at Conception Act – which Cline also signed onto – states:
The terms “human person” and “human being” include each and every member of the species homo sapiens at all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization, cloning, or other moment at which an individual member of the human species comes into being.
No time limits. No age limits. No exceptions.
This would be a nationwide ban on abortion from the moment of conception for any reason, including rape, incest or protecting the health or life of the mother– applying to 10-year-olds as much as to anyone else.
If Cline thinks I am misinterpreting the bill, I hope he will provide his own explanation.
After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade (a decision he welcomed), he voted NO on a House bill establishing a nationwide right to abortion. To make matters worse, he voted NO on a bill establishing a nationwide right to contraception. (Congressman Cline: If you’re going to prevent women from ending unwanted or dangerous pregnancies, shouldn’t you at least support their right to prevent pregnancies?)
Last year Cline revealed how phony his “pro-life” position is when he voted NO on the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (HR 1065) to protect pregnant workers. Despite Cline’s opposition, the bill overwhelmingly passed the House with bipartisan support and is awaiting action in the Senate.
The bill would require private-sector employers with 15 or more workers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees, including water and bathroom breaks, stools, or a reduction in lifting requirements.
In other words, Cline is “pro-life” (or more precisely, pro-forced birth) as long as it doesn’t interfere with employers’ rights to treat employees as they choose.
While Cline proclaims his devotion to the “unborn,” he routinely opposes legislation to help the most vulnerable among us who have been born. Just this year he voted NO on the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act (HR 1916), requiring health plans to cover medically necessary services resulting from a congenital anomaly or birth defect. And he voted NO on the Keep Kids Fed Act (S 2089), to extend child nutrition waivers that have helped millions of kids get access to meals both in school and during the summer for the last two years.
Cline’s extremist position is out of touch with the vast majority of Americans and the vast majority of his constituents– Republicans, Democrats and independents. Voters in heavily Republican Kansas overwhelmingly rejected a constitutional amendment to enable strict anti-abortion laws of the sort that Cline favors.
For all of Cline’s talk about getting “big government” out of people’s lives, it comes down to this: he believes the extremely personal decision on whether to end a pregnancy belongs to politicians and the government rather than to a person and their doctor.
As your representative in Congress, I will stand strong for the rights of an individual to make their own decisions on private matters like pregnancy while fighting to protect and improve the lives of the people of the Sixth District at all stages of their lives.
Jennifer Lewis is the Democratic Party congressional nominee in the Sixth District.