The Slatest

Republican Ad Accuses Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wanting to Abort the Next Martin Luther King Jr.

Tammy Baldwin surrounded by reporters on an escalator in the Capitol.
Capitol Hill reporters grill Tammy Baldwin over her support for the controversial We Must Abort the Next Martin Luther King Jr. Act of 2018. Al Drago/Getty Images

The Times has published an overview of the effort to unseat Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin, which, like every close Senate race this year, could end up tipping control of the upper chamber. A lot of it is what you’d expect—well-financed right-wing groups will attempt to portray Baldwin as a radical leftist whose leftist values are out of step with the blue-collar ways of Wisconsin’s humble cow people. But there’s also this, which will blow the ol’ hair back:

By July [2017], a Milwaukee radio station was carrying audacious ads about Ms. Baldwin’s support for abortion rights. “Did you know one out of three babies aborted in American are black? One out of three. And Tammy Baldwin is a big reason why,” the ad said. “That could be the next Frederick Douglass or Rosa Parks or Martin Luther King they’re aborting.”

Yikes! My colleague Christina Cauterucci has previously seen an abortion-related Frederick Douglass talking point deployed by a pro-life protester in person; the idea appears to be that Douglass was fathered by a slaveowner who impregnated a slave, which would by definition be rape, and that allowing legal abortions in cases of rape is therefore tantamount to wishing Douglass had not been born. (Douglass’ autobiography says he heard rumors that his father was the slaveowner who “owned” his mother, but it does not appear to be a conclusively established fact.) Parks and MLK, meanwhile, are sometimes cited by anti-abortion activists who see the civil rights movement as a model for their own work, and it’s been claimed previously by at least one pro-lifer that Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger would have wished that Parks and King had been aborted. In reality, King was a vocal supporter of Planned Parenthood who praised Sanger in remarks written for an award that the organization gave him while she was still alive. (Various online sources also say Parks served at one point on Planned Parenthood’s board, though I wasn’t able to find any primary-source confirmation; I put an inquiry in with the organization about it and will update this post if I hear from them.)

Also, the organization that funded the anti-Baldwin ad is run by John Philip Sousa’s great-grandson. What a world!