Joe Lieberman: Not a Moderate on Abortion

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 7, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Joe Lieberman: Not a Moderate on Abortion

by Maria Gallagher Staff Writer
November 7, 2003

Editor’s Note: This is the eighth in a series of profiles on the Democratic presidential candidates.

Washington, DC ( — Democratic Presidential hopeful Joe Lieberman may present himself as Mr. Moderate when it comes to issues such as national defense and fiscal policies.

But to leading pro-life groups, the Connecticut Senator is no moderate when it comes to some critical right-to-life issues.

"Joe Lieberman is trying to campaign as a ‘moderate’ Democratic candidate, but he’s no moderate when it comes to abortion," said Carol Tobias of National Right to Life.

"Lieberman supports abortion for any reason, including partial-birth abortion. He supports stem-cell research on human embryos and has said he would try to appoint judges who would uphold Roe vs. Wade. Unfortunately, he’s as radical on the abortion issue as the other eight (Democratic) candidates," Tobias said.

The Connecticut Senator is not shy in proclaiming his support for legal abortion.

On his official Senate website, Lieberman defended his decision to fight a ban on partial-birth abortion, a practice in which a baby is partly delivered, then killed.

"Let us be clear on this," Lieberman states. "Our values and our respect for the Constitution make clear that women must have the right to choose and we will continue to fight for that right."

Lieberman proudly proclaims the fact that he received a 100 percent rating from NARAL, the national pro-abortion lobbying group, in the years 2001 and 2002. He has an overall rating of 95 percent from NARAL for his entire political career. He has consistently opposed the partial-birth abortion ban.

Following President George W. Bush’s signing of the ban this week, Lieberman released a statement which said: "Today, the President signs into law a bill that lets the political agenda of right-wing Republicans override the rights and health of American women. This bill broadly threatens the right to choose. It utterly disregards the safety and well being of the mother. And the Supreme Court has already ruled a similar law unconstitutional. When I am President, I will do all I can to undo this bill — and make abortion safe, legal, and rare."

In fact, say pro-life activists, the partial-birth abortion ban does not compromise the health of women.

Medical experts have testified to the fact that partial-birth abortion is never medically necessary for a woman and may, in fact, endanger her health. In addition, pro-life activists say, Lieberman’s history indicates that he will not work to make abortion rare and will actually attempt to expand abortion.

While Lieberman has called himself a "different kind of Democrat," he appears to be in lock-step with the pro-abortion leadership of his party. In fact, there is no substantive difference between his position on abortion and that of the other Democratic Presidential candidates.

Lieberman has voted to allow abortions to be performed at military bases funded by U.S. taxpayers. He has also voted in favor of taxpayer funding for abortions for federal workers and abortions overseas. He’s approved of military abortions, but fought against parental involvement laws related to abortion. Likewise, he voted against a pro-life amendment requiring a detailed reporting on transactions involving the body parts of babies killed by any method of abortion.

Lieberman’s defense of abortion on demand may seem curious, considering that he claims to practice Orthodox Judaism.

At a National Right to Life convention, Lieberman’s own rabbi, Barry Freundel, said that the majority of U.S. abortions were in conflict with Jewish Scripture.

According to the pro-life group Jews for Life, "life, both born and unborn, is sacred and worthy of protection … We submit that the current so-called ‘pro-choice’ position of mainstream liberal Jewish organizations is antithetical to the traditional teachings of our faith." contacted the Lieberman campaign to find out how the candidate reconciles his views on abortion with his religion, but received no response.

Despite his vociferous support of abortion, Lieberman has expressed some trepidation about assisted suicide and euthanasia. Lieberman did vote once in favor of a pro-life bill to promote pain relief for patients as an alternative to assisted suicide.

Lieberman also expressed support for Terri’s Law, the Florida legislation giving Governor Jeb Bush the authority to intervene to save the life of Terri Schiavo, a disabled woman whose husband has been fighting to disconnect her feeding tube.

"I believe that certainly in cases where there is not a living will…I feel very strongly that we ought to honor life and we ought not to create a system where people are being deprived of nutrition or hydration in a way that ends their lives."

While serving as Connecticut attorney general in the mid-1980s, Lieberman was confronted with a case involving a woman whose family sued a nursing home in an effort to starve and dehydrate her. Lieberman argued that the feeding of the woman, who was not fully conscious, be continued.

Still, despite his squeamishness about euthanasia, Lieberman could not be described as "pro-life."

As Democrats for Life, an organization made up of Democrats who support the pro-life position, points out: "Pro-life Americans who want to support a Democratic candidate during next year’s presidential election will have a hard time finding legitimate options. While commentary on the number of interested leaders hoping to secure nomination abounds, diversity in the group’s views on abortion is lacking. With a total of nine declared candidates, Democratic constituents have a variety of choices when it comes to race, gender, religion, or previous experience. With respect to abortion, however, the records of each individual are not promising for pro-life voters."

Lieberman has devoted much of his professional life to public service, including a stint in the Connecticut legislature. He first gained national prominence in the 2000 Presidential campaign, when he served as pro-abortion Democrat Al Gore’s running mate.

Lieberman earned high marks from the news media for his sense of humor but condemnation from some in Hollywood for his call for family-friendly entertainment. Yet, although Lieberman often invokes themes related to family values in his speeches, pro-life groups insist that his abortion policy is anything but family-friendly.