Iowa Gov. Latest Presidential Contender to Moderate Image on Abortion

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 11, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Iowa Gov. Latest Presidential Contender to Moderate Image on Abortion Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 11
, 2006

West Palm Beach, FL ( — Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack is the latest Democratic presidential contender to moderate his image on abortion. Vilsack appears to be taking a page out of Hillary Clinton’s playbook by attempting to come across as a moderate while retaining his strongly pro-abortion position.

Vilsack, the first Democrat to officially declare his candidacy, spoke to a group of 100 Democrats over the weekend at a campaign stop in Florida.

He made several visits to Florida communities to meet with party leaders and raise funds.

The visit also came about because state officials are considering moving up the presidential primary to increase the state’s already strong influence over the presidential race.

During one event, Vilsack said he supports abortion but said Democrats need to do more to cultivate an image that makes them look less out of the mainstream of American thought. Polls show about 55 percent of Americans take a pro-life position and most support proposals like parental notification or telling women of abortion’s risks and alternatives.

Vilsack, according to an AP report, said his party needs to do more to promote adoption, prenatal care, family planning and health insurance for children. The governor was adopted himself.

"When you phrase it that way, you send a message to the life community that you respect but don’t necessarily always agree with their position," he told the local Democrats.

"And you begin to have a conversation about issues where there might be consensus as opposed to division," he explained.

That’s the kind of language New York Sen. Hillary Clinton is using in an effort to soften her radical pro-abortion position. She’s delivered speeches this year suggesting compromise and toning down the strident views she’s pegged as having.

Like Vilsack, Clinton touted family planning in June as a way of bridging the gap between both sides in the abortion debate.

Clinton told the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association in Washington that abortion "should not be in ideological battle."

"Let us unite around a common goal of reducing the amount of abortions," Clinton said. However, her method of reducing abortions is different from those of pro-life groups.

Clinton claims the number of abortions will drop "not by making them illegal as many are attempting to do or overturning Roe v. Wade and undermining the constitutional protections that decision provided, but by preventing unintended pregnancies in the first place through education, contraception, accessible health care and services, empowering women to make decisions."

In her speech, Clinton dove into the ideological debate by criticizing pro-life lawmakers who have fought efforts to increase taxpayer funding for family planning programs.

Pro-life groups frequently oppose such efforts because much of the money would go to Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion business in the country.

Despite his own attempts to moderate his image, Vilsack upset the pro-life community when he voted legislation that would have required abortion businesses to provide women with factual information about abortion risks and alternatives prior to performing one.

Women who regret their abortions frequently say that abortion practitioners did not provide them adequate information beforehand that may have changed their minds had they had it available.

He also ridiculed a bill that would protect pregnant women and their unborn children — such as Laci Peterson and her son Conner — from acts of violence. It would have allowed two charges for two deaths such as the charges Scott Peterson faced in that case.

In March 2004, Vilsack also came under fire for opposing a measure to stop taxpayer funding for abortions at the University of Iowa’s hospital on unborn babies diagnosed with physical or mental disabilities.

"We should not be targeting and funding the killing of people with defects," Kim Gordon, executive director of Right to Life of Iowa, told at the time.

But Vilsack appeared to back the abortion funding.

Vilsack has raised money to promote abortion and was one of four governors to lend his name to a NARAL fundraising letter opposing President Bush in 2004 because of his pro-life position.