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Markey, Gomez square off on abortion in first Senate debate

U.S. senatorial candidates Ed Markey and Gabriel Gomez went head to head Wednesday in the first of three televised debates leading up to the special election with the candidates disagreeing on abortion, gun legislation, healthcare and foreign policy.

Gomez said although he is pro-life, he would support changing the waiting period before a woman can decide if she wants to have an abortion.

“I think asking somebody to wait 24 hours before they can actually go have an abortion is not asking a lot,” he said in a televised showing of the debate on WBZ/CBS.

Markey said he is pro-choice and that a woman should have full rights to choose abortion when she wants.

“I think the decision should be between the woman and her physician,” he said. “That’s it. The woman makes the decision, not some law that’s imposed by politicians.”

Gomez said his choice of a Supreme Court justice would not be affected by pro-choice or pro-life stances.

“If the judge comes in front of me and they follow the [U.S.] Constitution and they’re ethical and they’re pro-choice and they’ve done a good job, I’ll vote for them,” he said. “If they’re pro-life, I’ll vote for them. There should be no litmus test.”

On handling gun control, Markey said Gomez’s ideas did not resonate with those of Massachusetts’s residents.

“You’re going to hear a lot about how Gomez is a new Republican, but you’re going to hear the same stale Republican ideas,” Markey said. “Gomez opposes an assault weapons ban and tax hikes for billionaires.”

Gomez said Markey was trying to scare voters and that, unlike Markey, he is willing to side with Democrats on certain issues. He said he voted against the National Rifle Association on background checks.

As for healthcare, Gomez said the federal Affordable Care Act, which U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law in 2010, would cause bankruptcy and fewer jobs in Massachusetts.

“Everyone should have access to healthcare, but we should do this at a state level rather than at a federal level,” he said. “I’ve spent the last four months visiting small businesses and talking to voters, and their main concern is the economy and the effect Obamacare will have on their businesses.”

Markey said the act was revolutionary and that the Commonwealth is a perfect example of how Americans need not compromise between the economy and healthcare.

“Our unemployment rate is much lower than the national average, and we have been the first in providing healthcare to our people,” he said. “We have already proven we can have a robust economy and provide healthcare and education to our children and still be ahead.”

The candidates also disagreed on foreign policy, specifically in Syria. Gomez said it was in America’s best interest to become involved, while Markey said intervention is unnecessary.

“This decision is one that has to be made with great reserve,” Markey said. “In Syria, I do not think it would be wise to send in ground troops.”

Gomez said action could pose a threat to Israel and American interests in the region.

“We have taken too long to act [in Syria],” he said. “If the wrong group takes over, that is a danger to Israel and the rest of the world.”

The next two debates are scheduled for June 11 and June 18, with the special election to take place on June 25.

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