May 20, 2024 - Politics

Why this pro-abortion rights candidate was accused of "pinkwashing"

an illustration of a red cross facade being propped up by a wooden board

Illustration: Tiffany Herring/Axios

Some Arizona reproductive rights advocates are accusing a candidate of "pinkwashing," or overstating her pro-choice endorsements to sway voters.

Why it matters: With abortion expected to be one of the biggest vote drivers this cycle, candidates across the political spectrum are trying to prove they support women's rights.

The big picture: Pinkwashing — a play on whitewashing — is also used to describe politicians, nonprofits and corporations who some say are disingenuous in their support for women or the LGBTQ community.

  • Susan G. Komen, a breast cancer organization, got slapped with the term after it stopped funding cancer screening services at Planned Parenthood in 2012 (the foundation reversed course in 2014).
  • More recently, pinkwashing has been used to describe Israel proponents who use Hamas' anti-LGBTQ policies to bolster support in the Israel-Hamas war.

Driving the news: District 3 congressional candidate Yassamin Ansari last week announced an endorsement from Michelle Steinberg, the former Planned Parenthood Arizona public policy director.

  • Representatives of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona and Reproductive Freedom for All Arizona were quick to point out that the current leadership of both organizations support Ansari's Democratic primary opponent, Raquel Terán.

What they're saying: "You should NOT be proud of pink-washing," Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona senior adviser Chris Love responded to Ansari on X.

The intrigue: In this case, both candidates are pro-choice and have solid progressive records. The controversy boils down to who got the official endorsements from the abortion rights organizations.

  • District 3 is one of the most liberal districts in the state, so candidates must find ways to differentiate themselves in the competitive Democratic primary.

Between the lines: Planned Parenthood Action Fund did not respond to Axios' questions about why they endorsed Terán or how her abortion record differs from those of her Democratic opponents.

  • Reproductive Freedom for All president and CEO Mini Timmaraju in a statement commended Terán's decades of experience, including working to get pro-abortion rights candidates elected as chair of the Arizona Democratic Party in 2022.
  • "As a Latina, I've been part of building this movement in my community for years, even when it was difficult and people made assumptions this issue wasn't ours," Terán said in a statement.

The other side: "No other candidate in this race has a better legislative record of protecting abortion rights for Arizona women than [Ansari]," campaign spokesperson Pasquale Luz said in a statement.

What we're watching: Whether voters will care about official endorsements, or if supporting abortion rights is enough.


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