John Kerry Backs Away From "Anti-Abortion" Comments on Human Life

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 23, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

John Kerry Backs Away From "Anti-Abortion" Comments on Human Life

by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 23, 2004

Washington, DC ( — Though his record and rhetoric in favor of abortion is clear, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry startled voters weeks ago when he told a local newspaper in a heavily Catholic section of Iowa that he believed "life begins at conception."

Kerry now says the phrase, long used by pro-life advocates to describe their desire to provide legal protection to unborn children throughout pregnancy, doesn’t mean he thinks human life begins at that point.

In an interview with ABC News on Thursday, Kerry told newsman Peter Jennings that he thought the "fertilization process" is when a human being "is first formed and created."

However, Kerry added, "[w]ithin weeks, you look and see the development of it, but that’s not a person yet, and it’s certainly not what somebody, in my judgment, ought to have the government of the United States intervening in."

The contradictory statements, designed to curry favor with Catholics who back him on other issues but have qualms with his pro-life position, reveal Kerry’s nature as a flip-flopper, pro-life advocates say.

"Senator Kerry now claims that he believes that ‘a human being is first formed and created’ at fertilization, but for 20 years he has consistently voted against any legal protection for those human beings," says Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee.

Kerry has even voted against the protection of unborn children, "harmed in violent crimes, and even in federally funded laboratory research," Johnson told

"It is President Bush who is really looking out for the ‘little guy,’" Johnson added.

Despite his circumlocution on the beginning of human life, Kerry continues to make it clear he backs abortion and opposes any rollback of the Roe v. Wade decision that allows it.

"Roe v. Wade has made it very clear what our standard is … with respect to rights. I believe in the right to choose, not the government choosing, but an individual, and I defend that," Kerry told Jennings.