Abortion Advocates Defend John Kerry After Judicial Flip-Flop

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 21, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Abortion Advocates Defend John Kerry After Judicial Flip-Flop

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
May 21, 2004

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — In an interview on Wednesday likely Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry flip-flopped on his long-standing position in favor of only appointing pro-abortion judges to the federal bench. Then he flip-flopped during the interview, returning to his previous position. After the interview with the Associated Press, his campaign issued a statement saying Kerry’s flip-flop wasn’t a change of position.

Now, leading abortion advocates are responding to Kerry — with some rising to his defense and others mildly rebuking the Massachsuetts senator for his slight deviation in course.

Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority, said Kerry is "sending a very confusing message about the importance of reproductive rights."

"Women’s fundamental rights should not be used as a means of moderating a candidate’s tone for the general elections," Smeal said.

Planned Parenthood president Gloria Feldt told AP that she would "like to hear him use language that is stronger.” But Feldt’s group has endorsed Kerry and plans to stand by him.

Others are rallying around their candidate and defending his staunch pro-abortion position.

"There’s a huge difference between Bush and Kerry on choice and this is not going to undermine the pages-long documentation that Kerry is pro-choice,” Elizabeth Cavendish, interim president of NARAL, said. "This is not a time when we’re going to pounce on John Kerry."

"[B]ased on John Kerry’s record in the U.S. Senate, and the positions he has articulated as a candidate for president … Roe v. Wade would be safe in his hands if he is elected president," Cavendish added. "He is an unwavering supporter of a woman’s right to choose."

But Steve Schmidt, a spokesman for the re-election campaign of President Bush, said Kerry’s flip-flop "shows a startling lack of conviction on an issue that someone seeking the presidency should approach with principled clarity."

Kerry told the Associated Press he would be open to appointing pro-life judges, as long as they weren’t the deciding vote in overturning Roe v. Wade.

Yet, in the same interview he said, "I’m going to make sure we uphold what I believe are constitutional rights and I’m not going to pick somebody who’s going to undermine those rights."

Prior to Wednesday’s flip-flop, Kerry had consistently said he would appoint only pro-abortion judges to the courts.

"If you need any motivation let me give you three little words — the Supreme Court," Kerry has been saying recently in his stump speech. He also used the issue in a television commercial attacking the President, warning that "George Bush will appoint anti-choice, anti-privacy judges."

After the interview, Kerry’s campaign issued a statement intended to re-enforce his pro-abortion stance.

"I want to make myself clear," the statement said. "I believe that a woman’s right to choose is a constitutional right. I will not appoint anyone to the Supreme Court who will undo that right."

During the Democratic primaries, Kerry vowed to filibuster any Bush Supreme Court nominee who was pro-life on abortion.

President Bush enjoys the support of the pro-life community and has signed three pro-life bills into law — including the partial-birth abortion ban, a bill to protect unborn children born alive following a botched abortion, and a bill protecting pregnant women and their unborn children.