Tuck Criticizes Blackmon For Making Abortion Challenge

Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck says her Democratic opponent's challenge that she sign an affidavit swearing she has not had abortion "could be one of the sleaziest political attacks in Mississippi history.''

Tuck, who supports anti-abortion policies, said she was insulted by state Sen. Barbara Blackmon's "innuendo'' that the Republican lieutenant governor has had an abortion.

"I have not had an abortion. I am pro-life in my private life and I am pro-life in my professional life. I've seen a lot of low-road politics in my time, but this beats all,'' Tuck told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Blackmon on Monday proposed that she and Tuck each take an oath they had not had an abortion. Blackmon released an affidavit that read "until both candidates for the office of lieutenant governor ... have signed an affidavit attesting to the fact that she has not had an abortion, I will have nothing further to say on this subject.''

"I have never had an abortion. Just as I made the choice of life, I believe that each person has that right,'' said Blackmon, mother of two sons.

Tuck and Blackmon, a Canton lawyer, are on the ballot for the Nov. 4 election - marking the first time two women have competed for statewide office.

Throughout the campaign, Tuck has touted herself as an anti-abortion candidate. In a fund-raising letter dated Sept. 11, Tuck says she is "pro-life'' and her opponent is not.

Blackmon's release said Tuck campaigned as a supporter of abortion rights Senate candidate in 1990.

Tuck said she supported a law that requires minors to get parental consent before an abortion and the issuance of "Choose Life'' specialty license plates, which help provide funding for pregnancy crisis centers in Mississippi.

Blackmon, a 12-year lawmaker, voted against both measures. Tuck, who switched from a Democrat to a Republican last winter, said if re-elected she would support strengthening the state's fetal homicide law and abortion reporting requirements.

"That would hopefully help us find out why people are having abortions,'' Tuck said.

Olivia L. Gans, director of the Washington-based American Victims of Abortion, an affiliate of National Right to Life Committee, held a news conference in Jackson Wednesday to support Tuck.

"I am proud to support candidates that will stick their necks out politically, that will work hard to protect us from the violence of abortion, to save our children's lives,'' Gans said. "As a senator and now as a lieutenant governor, Amy Tuck has consistently done that.''

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)