DERRY, N.H. — Senator Jeanne Shaheen began airing a scathing TV ad Tuesday, portraying Scott Brown, who describes himself as “prochoice,” as an untrustworthy supporter of abortion rights, pointing to a bill he cosponsored as a Massachusetts state senator.
“In Massachusetts, Scott Brown pushed for a law to force women considering abortion — force them — to look at color photographs of developing fetuses,” a female narrator says in the new 30-second spot over an image of a 2005 bill in the Massachusetts Legislature. “Scott Brown wants the government to tell women how to make this decision.”
Brown, voice tinged by anger, vociferously disputed the spot, said it lied about the bill and his position on abortion, and called on Shaheen to take the ad down, in one of the most dramatic moments of this year’s New Hampshire US Senate race.
“For her to lie and say that I am opposed to women’s health care is not only insensitive, it is also deeply offensive,” Brown said at a news conference about the ad, before campaigning with US Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, who endorsed him.
“This bill that she’s referring to,” Brown continued, “did not force women to do anything. I would never force a woman to do anything.”
He said the intent of the bill was to help promote more adoptions. The bill required doctors to provide alternatives to abortion, Brown said, and “to provide additional information, and that woman could have taken that and put it right in the barrel if she wanted to; it wasn’t forced.”
The “Woman’s Right to Know” bill was cosponsored by Brown when he was in the state Senate.
It required the referring doctor, the doctor performing the abortion, or either doctor’s agent to provide the pregnant woman with a printed pamphlet, Web address of a state website, or a toll-free number for an audio recording with certain information.
That information, according to a scan of the bill provided by a Massachusetts State House librarian, included “. . . a description of the probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the unborn child at two-week gestational increments from fertilization to full term, including color photographs or if a representative photograph is not available, realistic drawings of the developing unborn child . . . ”
The attack in the TV ad about color photographs referred to that section of the bill, Shaheen aides said.
With his wife at his side, Brown reiterated his support for abortion rights and women’s access to contraception and noted actions he took as US senator from Massachusetts on issues important to women, such as being a cosponsor of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2012.
“Senator Shaheen and I are both prochoice,” he said. “We both support Roe v. Wade as the law of the land.”
The ad comes as part of a ramped-up effort by Shaheen in recent days — less than a month before the Nov. 4 election — to portray Brown as someone New Hampshire women cannot trust on issues important to them.
At Creative Chef Kitchens in Derry Tuesday, Shaheen told reporters she has been working to make sure women have access to health care and reproductive choices her entire career.
“Scott Brown,” Shaheen said, “he’s being disingenuous when he says he’s prochoice.”
Campaigning in Derry with Rubio, a potential 2016 White House hopeful, Brown emphasized decidedly different issues: foreign policy and national security.
He took aim at Shaheen on a few issues, criticizing her for missing a hearing on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the message of one of his recent TV ads.
Rubio warmly endorsed Brown, criticized the president’s foreign policy and Shaheen’s support for it, and argued for robust American leadership on the world stage.
“We have a president in the White House and his supporters in Congress, including Senator Shaheen, who believe that . . . because America is involved in things around the world, that’s what’s creating the problems,” he said. “The opposite is true.”
He and Brown both offered particularly strong criticism of the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq in 2011, which they said left a vacuum that has subsequently been filled by the militant Islamic State.
Rubio, at ease on the stump and appearing to enjoy himself in this first-in-the-nation presidential primary state, was mobbed by supporters after the event.
One man who came up to Rubio said, “You’re running for president, right?”
“I don’t know,” Rubio replied, smiling. “We’ll see. I promise I’ll let you know.”Joshua Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jm_bos.