Swift Boat Watch: Winning Message Action Fund

See all Swift Boat Watch entries here .

Who They Are: Winning Message Action Fund

Purpose: A 501(c)4 nonprofit affiliated with NARAL Pro-Choice New York . The group advocates for reproductive rights. In this election, it opposes John McCain.

President: Kelli Conlin

Funding: Individual donors. Although they share staff with NARAL Pro-Choice New York, their finances are separate.

Cost of the Ad: Less than $10,000.

Where It Ran: Ran 92 times through SaysMeTV on various networks and markets. Airtime was never purchased for this ad. Instead, Winning Message Action Fund uses a company called SaysMeTV that allows individuals to pay to air the ad on networks ranging from BET to Animal Planet. For example, one ad in the Indianapolis suburbs on CNN between 7 p.m. and 12 a.m. costs $45. Airtime for this ad was mostly purchased in Pennsylvania.

Related Groups: NARAL Pro-Choice New York and National Institute for Reproductive Health .

Claims: McCain opposes Roe v. Wade and thinks it should be overturned. If it were overturned, 21 states would immediately start to ban abortions, making them illegal. The ad asks the question, “How much time should she serve?”

Accuracy: McCain explicitly states on his Web site that Roe v. Wade was a “flawed decision that must be overturned.” The Center for Reproductive Rights released the “What if Roe Fell” report (PDF) in 2007. On Page 10 of this report, it states that 21 states are at high risk for banning abortion. But only four states—Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, and South Dakota—have enacted bans-in-waiting that would outlaw abortion as soon as Roe v. Wade is overturned. Bans-in-waiting don’t violate federal law because they don’t go into effect unless Roe v. Wade is overturned and therefore wouldn’t require legal action to be enacted. The report lists jail time as the punishment for many of the states’ statutes. But in all four ban-in-waiting statutes, the punishments are for the person who performs the abortion, not the woman who receives it.

Background: The ad started as an Internet campaign in August, funded for TV by individuals. But the organization will start purchasing its own airtime this month. The organization is still unsure if it will use the “How Much Time” ad or create a second one.

Swift Boat Rating:

John McCain opposes Roe v. Wade , but the group’s 21-state estimate is a bit exaggerated. There is evidence that these 21 states could move to ban abortion, but nothing implies that action would be immediate. No statutes currently in existence would send a woman to prison for having an abortion—it’s an idea that’s commonly used as a scare tactic.