by Steven Ertelt
February 19, 2007
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Looking to shore up support from the pro-life community, Arizona Senator and Republican presidential candidate John McCain said on Sunday that he favors overturning Roe v. Wade. That’s the 1973 Supreme Court decision that, along with a companion case, allow virtually unlimited abortions throughout pregnancy.
“I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned,” McCain told 800 GOP voters during a campaign stop in South Carolina on Sunday.
McCain also said he would only appoint judges for key federal posts and the high court who would “strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States and do not legislate from the bench.”
The comments are crucial because pro-life advocates believe that they could be as close as one vote away from having the Supreme Court overturn the landmark abortion case.
Heading into his presidency, President George W. Bush faced a court that, following the Clinton years, favored legalized abortion on a 6-3 margin.
Bush replaced pro-life Chief Justice William Rehnquist with Chief Justice John Roberts and pro-abortion Justice Sandra Day O’Connor with Justice Samuel Alito. Those appointments are thought to have left the court at a 5-4 pro-abortion majority — meaning the change of just one justice could open Roe up to defeat.
McCain also fielded a question Saturday about abortion during an Iowa appearance.
Jennifer Gumbel of West Des Moines asked the senator "what ideas can you bring to" ending abortion?
McCain discussed his pro-life voting record and reiterated his support for "the rights of the unborn."
"Please have no doubt about my commitment," McCain added.
Yet, during a press conference after the meeting, McCain answered a follow-up question on what he would do saying he’d "advocate my position of being pro-life," but indicating he didn’t "know anything phsyically I can do" about stopping abortion.
This is the second time in the last few months that McCain has said he would favor the high court reversing its decision in Roe.
In late November, McCain appeared on the ABC News program "This Week" and host George Stephanopoulos asked McCain if he supported a "constitutional amendment banning abortion, with some exceptions for life and rape and incest."
"Rape, incest and the life of the mother. Yes," McCain replied.
He then clarified that he didn’t think a human life amendment would pass and said he thought the nation’s high court should overturn Roe.
"I don’t think a constitutional amendment is probably going to take place, but I do believe that it’s very likely or possible that the Supreme Court should — could overturn Roe v. Wade, which would then return these decisions to the states, which I support," McCain said.
McCain appeared then to be changing his position from a 1999 statement he gave to the San Francisco Chronicle in which he said he didn’t support repealing Roe.
"I’d love to see a point where it is irrelevant, and could be repealed because abortion is no longer necessary," McCain told the newspaper at the time. "But certainly in the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade, which would then force X number of women in America to [undergo] illegal and dangerous operations."
McCain has typically voted pro-life on abortion-related issues while serving in the Senate, including voting in March 2003 against an amendment to the partial-birth abortion ban that endorsed the Roe v. Wade decision.
However, McCain voted last year in favor of a bill forcing taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research and he upset pro-life groups by sponsoring a major campaign finance reform bill that contained several restrictions on what they could do during elections.
Meanwhile, according to an AP report, during his campaign stop over the weekend, McCain also appeared at an abstinence education rally with more than 1,000 participants. He said that today’s youth face more pressures than he and his generation did when they were growing up.
McCain also told audiences in South Carolina that he has been endorsed by pro-life former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, who had been considering his own White House bid, and pro-life former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm, who sought the GOP nomination for president in 1996.
Keating stumped with McCain over the weekend and told crowds that he is the “only candidate who is a true-blue, Ronald Reagan conservative," AP reported.
McCain’s comments on Roe v. Wade are important because he and other GOP contenders face Rudy Giuliani, the pro-abortion former mayor of New York City who is seen as one of the top candidates in the polls.