Raleigh, N.C. — U.S. Senate candidate Greg Brannon's campaign says his comments regarding abortion are being taken out of context by a national online magazine.
"According to North Carolina GOP Senate candidate Greg Brannon, Planned Parenthood has a secret plan to legalize the killing of newborn babies as old as three months," Mother Jones reported this week. That story was echoed in both a brief and an issue story by The Associated Press news service.
The stories reference comments Brannon made during a Nov. 7 fundraiser for Hand of Hope, a Wake County nonprofit that provides abortion alternatives. Brannon is the group's medical director. Brannon speaks to Hands of Hope fundraiser
Brannon has made no secret of his opposition to abortion. Along with state House Speaker Thom Tillis and Charlotte pastor Mark Harris, he is one of the leading Republican primary candidates hoping to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan.
During his November speech, Brannon was attacking the philosophical underpinnings for allowing abortion at any point.
"How far will that go. Well, last year, Feb. 29, 2012, the Journal of Ethics in Australia, they debated that. They said we already know abortion is fine, why stop in the womb? Why not three months after? Why should we end the responsibility at that point?" Brannon said, according to an audio recording from the event. "It could happen in America. Florida's trying to do it right now and so is Georgia. Planned Parenthood. Because we allowed that slippery slope. Every human being deserves life, liberty and property. It takes some of us who are not being attacked to stand up for those of us who are being attacked."
Planned Parenthood Action Fund Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens told Mother Jones, "These absurd and patently false claims by Greg Brannon demonstrate just how extreme and out of touch he is when it comes to women's health issues, and the rest of the Republican Senate candidates in North Carolina are just as dangerous."
However, Brannon campaign spokesman Reilly O'Neal called the Mother Jones headline "ridiculous and misleading" and said that Brannon's remarks were being misinterpreted.
Brannon was "not claiming that this is law today or that (Planned Parenthood) has a 'secret plan,' but that we are on a slippery slope and we must not devalue human life. All life is precious. We must always ere on the side of life," O'Neal said.
The Journal of Medical Ethics article received international attention when it was published. The Florida reference, O'Neal said, was related to testimony by a Planned Parenthood official before the Florida legislature regarding a bill dealing with infants born alive despite being subject to an abortion procedure.
O'Neal also pointed out that Brannon is not the first GOP figure to reference the Florida testimony. It has been the subject of multiple articles by mainly conservative-leaning outlets, and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus wrote an opinion piece that said mainstream news outlets were ignoring the story.
"Surely, all Americans can agree that a newborn deserves immediate medical care – and, if necessary, emergency care – regardless of the circumstances of birth," Priebus wrote.
Given that Brannon, Tillis and Harris all have taken anti-abortion stands at one time or another, it seems unlikely this particular issue would impact the Republican primary. However, if Brannon wins the primary, it is likely something that Hagan's campaign or her allies will raise this fall.