Wesley Clark Says He Doesn’t "Believe in Abortion," Then Backpeddles

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 5, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Wesley Clark Says He Doesn’t "Believe in Abortion," Then Backpeddles

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
February 5, 2004

Chattanooga, TN (LifeNews.com) — Pro-abortion Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark is under fire again for his comments on abortion and subsequent backpedaling.

While campaigning in Tennessee on Wednesday, Clark told a voter, "I don’t believe in abortion."

"What you’ve got to do is you really have got to work with families and you really got to help people understand what their choices are and not do the wrong thing because I don’t believe in abortion," Clark said, according to the Associated Press.

On Thursday, Clark clarified his position with reporters traveling with his campaign.

"I would hope that [abortion] would be done only on rare occasions, but it’s a woman’s right to choose. It’s a private matter and I support the Supreme Court. I support Roe v. Wade. And I support a woman’s right to choose,” the AP says Clark told reporters.

Brian Harris of Tennessee Right to Life isn’t surprised at the turn of events.

"As he travels across rural Tennessee, there is no doubt that Clark will be encountering many pro-life Democrats who want to know his true position on human life," Harris told LifeNews.com. "This is an issue that most Tennesseans — Democrats and Republicans alike — consider to be critically important."

Harris said polling data shows most Tennessee residents are pro-life, including 57 percent of self-identified Democrats. Of that number, Harris explained, 70 percent of pro-life Democrats say a candidate’s position on abortion is either very or somewhat important.

Clark made his comments Wednesday after a woman on the campaign trail asked him how he felt about abortion. Clark also told her "I’m against abortion, but there’s the law of the land and that comes from the Supreme Court and the law is called Roe v. Wade. And I support the Supreme Court. I have to support the law.”

Clark added that he thought abortion should be "safe, legal and rare."

Carol Tobias, the National Right to Life PAC director told LifeNews.com that Clark is "awkwardly trying to find the right words to look like a ‘moderate’ on abortion. However, saying he "doesn’t believe in abortion" won’t fool pro-life voters should he win the nomination.

"[T]he fact remains that he supports unlimited abortion on demand," Tobias said. "Clark applauded Planned Parenthood for opposing the ban on partial-birth abortion and he has stated that he will not appoint pro-life judges to the Supreme Court."

"With Tennessee’s pro-life Democrats getting their first ‘up close’ look at Wesley Clark, they are beginning to ask some tough questions about his positions," Harris added. "A strong, pro-life position is a clear benefit in a state like Tennessee and, unfortunately, Wes Clark just doesn’t measure up."

This is the third time Clark has gotten himself in trouble over abortion.

In January, Clark told a New Hampshire newspaper he supported no limits on abortion and that abortion was a woman’s decision until the day of birth. Clark later retreated from the comments, but the Union Leader newspaper stood by the transcript of its interview.

Later, Clark spoke at a Planned Parenthood event and refused to answer reporters’ questions about his abortion stance. However, he updated his previous comments by saying that he supported the Supreme Court’s 1992 Casey vs. Planned Parenthood decision, where the high court said states have a right to pass some pro-life legislation limiting abortions.



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