IRVINE — Don't be confused. Even though he's a man, a Catholic and the attorney general, John K. Van de Kamp is a strong supporter of abortion rights.
Sometimes, "assets are also liabilities," Van de Kamp told an audience Wednesday in Irvine at the Planned Parenthood Western Regional Conference, where he appeared along with his rival for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, former San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein.
"That has created some confusion," Van de Kamp said. "So let me state once again, for the record, that I have always supported Medi-Cal funding for abortion; that I am opposed to the parental consent law, and that I strongly support increased funding for desperately needed family planning services.
"Some of our characteristics, like gender, are dealt to us by nature," he said. "Others, like our records, we build and we earn."
In the abortion politics of the California governor's race--where all three candidates support abortion rights--the contest has been over the degrees of restrictions.
Feinstein said she would support an initiative to guarantee abortion rights if they are threatened by the state government. She said, however, that "for the moment, abortion is safe in California."
"But we need to elect leaders who are unequivocally pro-choice. And I just happen to know one woman for governor who fits that bill," she added.
A representative for Sen. Pete Wilson, the Republican candidate for governor who also supports abortion rights, spoke at the conference.
Last month, Van de Kamp called on state health officials to allow testing of the pill RU 486, which has been found to induce abortions within five weeks of conception. If the drug is proven safe, Van de Kamp said, he believes it should be marketed.
The drug's manufacturer, however, is a French company, Roussel Uclaf, which has not applied for a license to test its product in California. And, Van de Kamp acknowledged, there's no guarantee the firm will supply the drug for testing.
Abortion rights advocates called Van de Kamp's proposal "smart politics" and good news for American women. Feinstein suggested the attorney general was "trying to one-up me with the female vote."
Feinstein leads Van de Kamp among women voters by more than a 2-to-1 margin, according to a recent Los Angeles Times Poll.