Running Mate Confessions: Nicole Shanahan Gives Her Stance On Abortion

By Lisa Pelgin | Saturday, 13 April 2024 01:50 PM
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Nicole Shanahan, the vice-presidential candidate running alongside Robert F. Kennedy Jr., recently shared her perspective on the Arizona Supreme Court's decision to uphold a 123-year-old law that limits abortion to cases where the mother's life is at risk. Shanahan, a billionaire, is the founder of the Bia-Echo Foundation, an organization dedicated to reproductive longevity, which she funds through her personal wealth.

Shanahan's interest in reproductive longevity was sparked by her own struggles with infertility during her marriage to Google co-founder Sergey Brin. Despite being deemed an "impossible" candidate for in-vitro fertilization (IVF), she eventually conceived naturally. This experience led her to explore alternative methods for women to conceive beyond their prime childbearing years.

"I did a report on longevity science because as a scientific field of research it’s really big, and has been popular for the better half of the last 10 years," Shanahan explained. "And what’s never been included in the definition of longevity is women’s reproduction." She added, "I was sitting in the meeting where the head of the National Academy of Medicine said we need to think outside the box and redefine how science approaches aging. We should never take anything at face value. And I thought, ‘Wait a second, am I taking this whole women go infertile at age 35 at face value? Oh my God, I am.’ It was in that moment I knew we had to do something about this.”

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Shanahan has been a vocal critic of IVF, particularly regarding corporate control of the product and the exploitation of mothers. She has called IVF “one of the biggest lies that’s being told about women’s health today.” In a statement to POLITICO, she elaborated, “I’ve spent the past five years funding science to understand the environmental factors that impact women’s reproductive health because these have gone largely ignored. IVF is a very expensive for-profit business, and many of these clinics are owned by private equity firms that are not invested in the underlying health of women. What I care about is informed consent, and not letting corporations take advantage of us.”

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In a personal essay for People Magazine in 2022, she further criticized the fertility industry, stating, “I believe IVF is sold irresponsibly, and in my own experience with natural childbirth has led me to understand that the fertility industry is deeply flawed.”

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Kennedy, Shanahan's running mate, has been inconsistent in his comments on abortion. At the 2023 Iowa State Fair, he stated that he would support a federal ban on abortion after three months, a statement his campaign quickly retracted. “Mr. Kennedy’s position on abortion is that it is always the woman’s right to choose. He does not support legislation banning abortion,” the campaign clarified in a statement.

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Shanahan, however, has been less clear in her stance on abortion. In a lengthy post on social media, she shared, "People are asking about my views on abortion. I will speak personally. As a mom, and a person with a womb, I don't like the feeling of anyone having control over my body. It is coercive. It is wrong. But, I am also a woman that would not feel right terminating a viable life living inside of me, especially if I am both healthy and that baby is healthy. I can hold both beliefs, as someone who believes in the sacredness of life, simultaneously."

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She went on to discuss extenuating circumstances that might lead her to consider terminating a pregnancy, including her health, the health of the baby, and the baby's potential quality of life. She also expressed support for community assistance for both mother and baby in cases of economic hardship.

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Despite her stated support for community assistance, Shanahan has donated large sums of money to politicians and organizations that promote unrestricted access to abortion and demonize pregnancy resource centers that offer alternatives to abortion. These include Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Silicon Valley) and TOP PAC.

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After the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June of 2022, California Attorney General Rob Bonta has sought to undermine pregnancy resource centers, accusing them of spreading misinformation. In response, an anonymous representative of a San Diego County center told KPBS, “We’re a medical clinic that offers a variety of services. A crisis pregnancy center is a very antiquated term and now it’s a derogatory term. She is respected and treated with dignity. There is nothing deceptive about what we do.”

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Despite the controversy surrounding her stance on abortion, Shanahan has remained steadfast in her commitment to reproductive longevity and equality. In a recent social media post, she stated, "Let's center the conversation and bring it back to the people. Bobby and I are dedicated to bringing to light solutions in the best interest of mother and baby."

However, her financial support for politicians and organizations that advocate for unrestricted access to abortion raises questions about her commitment to these ideals. As she continues her campaign for vice president, it remains to be seen how she will reconcile these conflicting positions.

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