Democratic challenger to U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise in a Louisiana congressional race posted a campaign ad on social media that includes a video of her giving birth.
Katie Darling said she was 7 months pregnant when she decided to run in response to the US Supreme Court ruling in June that ended constitutional protections for abortion. The 75-second video captures Darling traveling from her family farm to the parish of St. Tammany in September at a hospital, where she grips the side of a bed while in labor.
“I wanted to share that this is real for me,” Darling, 36, told The Associated Press. “I’m literally the one attached to the machines and the IVs in the hospital bed, going through labor and no one else getting to decide how I’m going to handle it.”
In one voice, Darling highlights her concerns about climate change, Louisiana’s poor performance in education and the state’s near-total ban on abortion — the only exceptions to the ban are if there is a substantial risk of death or harm to the patient if she continues with the pregnancy and in the case of “medically futile” pregnancies — when the fetus has a fatal abnormality. There are no exceptions for rape or incest.
“Louisiana deserves better than the path she’s on,” Darling says in the video. “I want that better path,” she adds, “for you” – as the ad cuts to her husband in the delivery room. “For her”, as the video shows her six-year-old daughter. “And for him,” she says directly to the camera from her hospital bed as she holds her newborn.
Kelly Dittmar, director of research at the Center on American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, said the ad is part of a broader trend of how women have used motherhood in campaign ads in recent years as a selling point.
“In all of these cases (candidates) are really using their motherhood in their identity and their childbirth saying, ‘I understand more innately and I’m more committed to these issues in the future because of my children,'” Dittmar said during press availability on Tuesday.
While Darling’s ad has garnered more than 1 million views and nearly 6,000 retweets as of Tuesday afternoon, she faces an uphill battle for a seat that has been held by Republicans since 1977.
Scalise has held Louisiana’s 1st Congressional District, which includes suburban New Orleans, the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain south to the Mississippi River Delta, since 2008 and is seeking his ninth consecutive term in November. It reported more than $8 million in cash in its most recent financial report. Darling has not yet disclosed how much she has raised.
Howard Kearney, a libertarian, is also running for the seat.
Associated Press reporter Sara Burnett in Chicago contributed to this report.