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Citing two candidates with ‘100 percent’ scores, abortion rights group stays out of governor’s race

The Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts Action Fund won’t endorse Democratic challenger Jay Gonzalez (left) or Republican incumbent Charlie Baker in the governor’s race.
The Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts Action Fund won’t endorse Democratic challenger Jay Gonzalez (left) or Republican incumbent Charlie Baker in the governor’s race.(Barry Chin/Globe Staff/File photos)

The Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts’s political arm is taking a noteworthy side in the gubernatorial race — neither.

Four years after backing Martha Coakley in her race against now-Governor Charlie Baker, the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund said Tuesday it is remaining neutral in the contest between the Republican and Democrat Jay Gonzalez.

The group said it interviewed both candidates and had them fill out questionnaires, with each earning a “100 percent score.” Its board reviewed both Baker and Gonzalez’s own endorsements, how they have (and would) approach judicial appointments, and asked them about sex education.

And their conclusion?

“Voters should feel assured that reproductive health care access will be protected in Massachusetts no matter who wins in November,” said Tricia Wajda, the fund’s vice president of external affairs. “This is a victory that should be celebrated.”

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The decision is notable, especially after the NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts PAC said this week it was endorsing Gonzalez over Baker. The NARAL PAC knocked Baker for supporting conservative Republicans such as state Representative James Lyons and Geoff Diehl, who’s challenging US Senator Elizabeth Warren.

The Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund said it has stayed out of high-profile races before, including the 2013 Boston mayoral race. It also didn’t endorse in either the 2002 or 2006 Democratic primary for governor, though it did wade into the general election those years.

Baker, who supports abortion rights, has aligned with Planned Parenthood in the past, including last year pledging to replace its funding with state money if its federal support was pulled.

Wajda said there wasn’t a single issue that drove the fund to its decision, but she cited what the group called the “strength of both candidates on our core issues and the current political environment.”

“I think we’re looking at a White House that’s very intent on attacking people’s access to health care,” she said.

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But the organization is confident that the next governor won’t.


Reach Matt Stout at matt.stout@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mattpstout