Newman tries to lay claim to abortion rights mantle in 6th, but she and Casten have groups' backing

Editor's note: This story has been updated to indicate Planned Parenthood Action Fund and NARAL Pro-Choice America have endorsed both Newman and Casten in the Democratic primary for the 6th District seat.

As the nation waits to see if the U.S. Supreme Court will strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, abortion has become a significant issue in the Democratic primary race for Illinois' 6th Congressional District seat.

Incumbent Sean Casten of Downers Grove and chief challenger Marie Newman of La Grange are trying to convince voters of their dedication to protecting women's rights, with social media posts, speeches, endorsements and commercials.

Now in his second term in Congress, Casten repeatedly has proclaimed full support for abortion rights. So far this election cycle, he's done so with two digital media advertisements, frequent posts on social media platforms and a TV ad that launched Friday.

Casten has joined public demonstrations, too, including one this past weekend in Chicago that he attended with his daughter Audrey. Newman has protested for abortion rights, as well.

Both Casten and Newman have sponsored legislation protecting abortion rights and funding, including the bill the Senate recently rejected that would've codified the Roe ruling.

Planned Parenthood Action Fund and NARAL Pro-Choice America have endorsed both Newman and Casten. However, Marcie Love - founder of abortion rights group Personal PAC - endorsed Casten and is featured in one of his commercials.

Both have some of NARAL's money, too. The group donated $2,500 to each campaign in November, days after Newman announced she'd run against him, federal records show.

Earlier this month, Newman penned a commentary for CNN about abortion rights and the abortion she had when she was 19. She also released a TV ad this week in which she discusses her abortion and her continued fight for reproductive rights.

The 30-second spot questions Casten's commitment on the issue, saying he's voted for George Bush and other Republicans who have opposed abortion rights. The ad doesn't specify which Bush.

"With the stakes this high, who do you trust?" Newman asks as the ad ends.

Casten campaign spokesman Jacob Vurpillat confirmed Casten voted for George H.W. Bush in 1992, when Casten was 20.

Regardless, Vurpillat insists Casten has a 100% supportive voting record on abortion in Congress.

"It is disappointing to see our opponent try to mislead voters about an issue they are in total agreement on," Vurpillat said.

Casten's first TV ad of the season doesn't take any swipes at Newman and instead focuses on his goals and credentials.

The debate over abortion has intensified since early May, when a draft Supreme Court opinion indicating Roe v. Wade could be struck down was leaked to the media.

All six candidates seeking the Republican nomination in the 6th have support undoing the Roe decision and letting states decide whether abortion should be legal.

The newly redrawn 6th District includes much of the West and Southwest suburbs in Cook and DuPage counties. Last year's remap put Newman's home in the 4th District, but it's near the 6th District line. Representatives don't need to live in the districts they serve.

Also seeking the Democratic nomination is Charles Hughes of Chicago. Hughes has no current social media presence and hasn't shown much in the way of campaign funding or organization.

The GOP candidates are Niki Conforti of Glen Ellyn, Rob Cruz of Oak Lawn, Burr Ridge Mayor Gary Grasso, Scott Kaspar of Orland Park, Oak Lawn resident Catherine A. O'Shea and Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau.

The primary election is June 28, and the general election is Nov. 8. Early voting started Thursday.

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