SIMI VALLEY, CALIF.--The first GOP presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan presidential library on Thursday served to put the always contentious issue of abortion on center stage. Staking out an abortion rights stance is problematical in a Republican primary election.
The 10-man field all said they wanted to repeal the Supreme Court landmark Roe v Wade. Former New York Mayor Giuliani, heretofore regarded as backing abortion rights, surprisingly was for repeal, leaving it for states to decide. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, seen as a flip-flopper on the question of abortion explained why he changed his mind. "I won't apologize to anybody for becoming pro-life."
NARAL immediately jumped all over the GOP contenders.
for transcript of abortion portion of the debate and the NARAL statement, click below....
Transcript from MSNBC...
MODERATOR: We now go to the next segment. We're going to talk about values.
Let's go down the line on this just like they did with the Democrats
last week on some of these trickier calls, but they do have clear
Starting with you, Governor, would the day that Roe v. Wade is
repealed be a good day for America.
BROWNBACK (?): It would be a glorious day of human liberty and
GILMORE (?): Yes, it was wrongly decided.
HUCKABEE (?): Most certainly.
HUNTER (?): Yes.
MODERATOR: A repeal.
GIULIANI: It would be OK.
MODERATOR: OK to repeal?
GIULIANI: It would be OK to repeal. It would be also if a
strict constructionist judge viewed it as precedent and I think a
judge has to make that decision.
MODERATOR: Would it be OK if they didn't repeal it?
GIULIANI: I think the court has to make that decision and then
the country can deal with it. We're a federalist system of government
and states can make their own decisions.
TANCREDO (?): After 40 million dead because we have aborted them
in this country, I would say that that would be the greatest day in
this country's history when that, in fact, is overturned.
MODERATOR: We're looking for nuance here. Governor Gilmore, you
have said in the past that you believe in the first eight to 12 weeks
of pregnancy that the woman should have the right to have an abortion.
Do you still want to stick with that exception?
GILMORE: I do, Chris. My views on this, my beliefs on this are
a matter of conviction. And they've always been the same, and they've
never changed, the entire time that I've been in public life.
However, my record as governor of Virginia, I think, has been one
that the pro-life community, of which I'm a part, would be very proud:
passing a 24-hour waiting period, passing informed consent, passing
parental notification, signing the partial-birth abortion law in
So I think the record is there. But my views -- my views are
strongly and fundamentally believed and been held that way.
MODERATOR: Governor Thompson, do you have any nuance on this?
Or are you just happy with the repeal of Roe v. Wade?
THOMPSON: I believe it should be left up to the states. That
was what was originally implied, and the Constitution was changed when
the Supreme Court made the decision.
I, like a lot of people up here, have made a record of pro-life
for a long time, signing the partial-birth abortion, pre-notification
for parents and so on.
THOMPSON: I think it's an important imperative that states have
the responsibility for making these laws.
MODERATOR: Governor Romney, in recent months, you've said you
were, quote, "always for life," but we've also heard you say you were
once, quote, "effectively pro-choice." Which is it?
ROMNEY: Well, I've always been personally pro-life, but for me,
it was a great question about whether or not government should intrude
in that decision. And when I ran for office, I said I'd protect the
law as it was, which is effectively a pro-choice position.
About two years ago, when we were studying cloning in our state,
I said, look, we have gone too far. It's a "brave new world"
mentality that Roe v. Wade has given us, and I changed my mind.
I took the same course that Ronald Reagan and George Herbert
Walker Bush and Henry Hyde took, and I said I was wrong and changed my
mind and said I'm pro-life. And I'm proud of that, and I won't
apologize to anybody for becoming pro-life.
MODERATOR: Governor, with respect, some people are going to see
those changes of mind as awfully politically convenient.
ROMNEY: You know, I told you that I'd studied at great length
this issue. When I ran, I -- for the very first time, I told you that
I was personally pro-life but that I would protect a woman's right to
choose as the law existed.
ROMNEY: And that stayed the same until two years ago, as I
And at that time, as a result of the debate we had, the
conclusion I reached was that we had gone too far, that cloning and
that creating new embryos was wrong, and that we should, therefore,
allow our state to become a pro-life state.
I believe states should have the right to make this decision, and
that's a position I indicated in an op-ed in the Boston Globe two
MODERATOR: Senator Brownback, this is an important issue for
BROWNBACK: It is.
MODERATOR: Could you support a nominee of your party who is not
BROWNBACK: I could, because I believe in the Ronald Reagan
principle, that somebody that's with you 80 percent of the time is not
your enemy, that's your friend and that's your ally. And this is a
big coalition party. And it's a coalition party that's governed for a
number of years in this country.
BROWNBACK: And it governs because it governs with a coalition of
economic and social conservatives, and people that want to be strong
for the United States.
But I want to emphasize, I believe life is one of the central
issues of our day, and I believe that every human life at every phase
is unique, is beautiful, is a child of a loving God, period.
MODERATOR: That's the time.
Let me go back to Governor -- Mayor Giuliani, because I want to
give you a chance on this.
You became very well known for standing up against the use of
public funds for what many people considered indecent exhibits at the
Brooklyn museum and places like that.
Why do you support the use of public funds for abortion?
GIULIANI: I don't. I support the Hyde amendment. I hate
abortion. I wish people didn't have abortions.
MODERATOR: So you're not for funding at all?
GIULIANI: I believe that the Hyde amendment should remain the
law. States should make their decision. Some states decide to do it.
Most states decide not to do it. And I think that's the appropriate
way to have this decided.
MODERATOR: Should New York, when you were mayor of New York,
should they have been paying for -- the state should have been paying
GIULIANI: That's a decision New York made a long time ago.
For Immediate Release
May 3, 2007
GOP Presidential Candidates United in Repeal of Roe v. Wade
Anti-choice candidates pledge to continue Bush legacy of interfering in Americans’ personal, private medical decisions
Washington, DC – Nancy Keenan, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said Republican presidential candidates’ statements on a woman’s right to choose will only galvanize the country’s pro-choice majority in the 2008 elections.
“All 10 candidates tonight told Americans that, if elected, they will continue George W. Bush’s divisive attacks on a woman’s right to choose,” Keenan said. “Even former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has professed pro-choice beliefs in the past, conceded that he would not defend Roe v. Wade and said that it would be ‘okay’ if the Supreme Court overturned the landmark decision.”
Keenan said the candidates obviously missed the message voters sent in the 2006 midterm elections, where pro-choice forces gained 23 new seats in the U.S. House and three in the Senate. Voters in three states, including South Dakota, also rejected anti-choice ballot measures.
“The bottom line is elections matter. We are committed to protecting the gains we made in 2006, and we will elect even more pro-choice candidates and a pro-choice president in November 2008,” Keenan said. “Americans are tired of politicians interfering in our most personal, private medical decisions, including a woman’s right to choose. In stark contrast to tonight’s GOP debate, on April 26, Democratic presidential candidates affirmed that Roe v. Wade should remain the law of the land. They even went beyond the rhetoric and endorsed commonsense policies that would prevent unintended pregnancies and thereby reduce the need for abortion, without making it more dangerous or difficult. That’s the leadership Americans are looking for in the next president.”
NARAL Pro-Choice America has asked all presidential candidates to share their views on a woman’s right to choose. That information will be available on the organization’s website on May 14.