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56th District rivals share views on abortion, guns
By Eric Peterson | Daily Herald Staff

Ryan Higgins


Michelle Mussman


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Published: 9/14/2010 8:57 AM

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Social policies such as gun control and abortion often clearly divide Republicans and Democrats, but the candidates for Illinois' 56th District House seat caution voters against expecting stereotypical stances from them.

While it's true that Democrat Michelle Mussman describes herself as "pro-choice" and Republican Ryan Higgins describes himself as "pro-life," the differences between them are more nuanced.

"I'm a pro-choice candidate, but I want it to be as rare a choice as possible," Mussman said.

She added that she favors education on alternate options like adoption.

Mussman favors such restrictions on abortion as parental notification for minors and a prohibition of late-term abortions.

As for what age the requirement for parental notification should end, however, Mussman said she would prefer to consult with experts and to meet with constituents to ensure she's exercising the will of the 56th District.

Higgins has the firmer opinion that 18 should be the age at which adulthood is recognized on this issue, as it is for the right to vote.

While the overall legality of abortion remains a federal issue, states sometimes do play a role on the matter of parental notification as well as the funding of clinics that perform abortions, Higgins said.

He added that he is absolutely opposed to the use of any tax dollars to fund abortions.

The only exceptions he makes in his opposition to abortion are cases of rape, incest or a threat to the life of the mother.

While Higgins and Mussman said they support the Second Amendment guaranteeing the right to bear arms, their positions on restrictive laws differ.

"I think the state has a role in preventing guns from getting into the hands of criminals," Higgins said.

He favors a three-day waiting period on gun purchases and believes possession of a gun during the commitment of a crime should aggravate the penalties for that crime.

Mussman said she believes citizens should have the right to buy one handgun a month - a restriction which would not prevent hunters from owning multiple guns - but is opposed to the legal sale of assault weapons.

She said she is satisfied with the current status of laws requiring criminal background checks.

Both Mussman, 37, and Higgins, 29, are residents of Schaumburg.

The 56th District includes Schaumburg and portions of Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Hanover Park, Roselle and Bloomingdale.