Vice chairman of Arizona Republican Party resigns over birth control comments

Dylan Stableford
Former Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce, the author of Arizona's SB 1070 immigration law, speaks to reporters outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, April 25, 2012, after the court's hearing on Arizona's "show me your papers" immigration law. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Former Arizona Sen. Russell Pearce has resigned as vice chairman of the state's Republican Party over controversial comments he made about birth control.

“You put me in charge of Medicaid, the first thing I’d do is get Norplant, birth-control implants, or tubal ligations," Pearce said on his talk radio show. "Then we’ll test recipients for drugs and alcohol, and if you want to [reproduce] or use drugs or alcohol, then get a job.”

Democrats and Republicans alike were outraged by the comment.

“For the first vice chair of the Arizona Republican Party to advocate for forced sterilization is unacceptable,” DJ Quinlan, executive director of the Arizona Democratic Party, said in a statement Saturday.

"Russell Pearce’s ignorant, hateful comments are insulting to women everywhere. He needs to resign or be removed from office immediately," tweeted Martha McSally, a Republican nominee in Arizona's 2nd Congressional District.

In a statement announcing his resignation, Pearce said the comments actually weren't his, but that he failed to correctly attribute them and doesn't want to become a distraction ahead of the upcoming midterm elections.

“Recently on my radio show there was a discussion about the abuses to our welfare system," Pearce said. "I shared comments written by someone else and failed to attribute them to the author. This was a mistake. This mistake has been taken by the media and the left and used to hurt our Republican candidates. I do not want the progressive left and the media to try and take a misstatement from my show and use it to attack our candidates. I care about the Republican Party and its conservative platform too much to let them do that."

Pearce added: "I will never back down from standing up for what I believe in, and I will continue to fight for the principles that our founding generation risked their lives for. But I have no intention of being used as a distraction by the Democrats.”



It's not the first time Pearce has stirred up controversy.

In the wake of the 2012 Aurora, Colo., theater massacre, Pearce criticized moviegoers for their failure to stop James Holmes, the suspected shooter in the mass killing.

"Had someone been prepared and armed they could have stopped this 'bad' man from most of this tragedy," Pearce wrote in a Facebook post. "He was two and three feet away from folks, I understand he had to stop and reload. Where were the men of flight 93???? Someone should have stopped this man. Someone could have stopped this man."

Twelve people were killed and 58 others wounded at the midnight screening of "Dark Knight Rises."

"Lives were lost because of a bad man," Pearce continued, "not because he had a weapon, but because no one was prepared to stop it. Had they been prepared to save their lives or lives of others, lives would have been saved. All that was needed is one [courageous]/brave man prepared mentally or otherwise to stop this. [I]t could have been done. When seconds count, police are only minutes away."