Republican Presidential Candidates Debate Abortion, Giuliani Backs It

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 7, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Republican Presidential Candidates Debate Abortion, Giuliani Backs It Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 7
, 2007

Washington, DC ( — The Republican presidential candidates gathered at the Reagan Library for a television debate last week and several of the questions revolved around pro-life issues, including abortion. While most of the GOP contenders said they opposed abortion, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was the only one to embrace it.

MSNBC host Chris Matthews moderated the debate and wasted no time diving into the controversial issue.

He asked the candidates whether "the day that Roe v. Wade is repealed" would "be a good day for Americans."

"Absolutely," former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney responded, "Most certainly," ex-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said, and Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback said it would be "a glorious day of human liberty and freedom."

Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, who backs abortion up to eight weeks of pregnancy, replied, "Yes, it was wrongly decided."

California Rep. Duncan Hunter, Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo, former Wisconsin Gov Tommy Thompson, and Arizona Sen. John McCain all agreed as well.

Giuliani said it was okay to repeal Roe but also hedged when asked a follow up and appeared to indicate he didn’t care if the court’s upheld or overturned the decision.

"It would be okay to repeal. Or it would be okay also if a strict constructionist judge viewed it as precedent, and I think a judge has to make that decision," he said. "I think that — I think the court has to make that decision, and then the country can deal with it. We’re a federalist system of government, and states could make their own decisions."

Asked about his views that abortion should be legal early in pregnancy, Gilmore defended his position.

"I do [hold the same position], Chris," Gilmore affirmed. "My views on this, my beliefs on this are a matter of conviction. And they’ve always been the same, and they’ve never changed the entire time that I’ve been in public life."

He also pointed to his record as governor in signing bills to ban partial-birth abortions, and promote informed consent and parental notification.

Romney was asked about his flip-flop on abortion — he says he became pro-life a few years ago after having to deal with the issue of embryonic stem cell research as governor — after campaigning as a pro-abortion candidate on previous occasions.

"I’ve always been personally pro-life, but for me there was a great question about whether or not government should intrude in that decision. And when I ran for office, I said I’d protect the law as it was, which is effectively a pro-choice position," Romney explained.

"About two years ago when we were studying cloning in our state, I said, look, we have gone too far; it’s a brave new world mentality that Roe v. Wade has given us; and I change my mind," he added.

"And I said I was wrong and changed my mind and said I’m pro-life. And I’m proud of that and I won’t apologize to anybody for becoming pro-life," he concluded.

Meanwhile, Giuliani was also asked about his position on public funding of abortions — an important topic after he told CNN weeks ago that he supports taxpayer-funded abortions. He flip-flopped and changed his mind the next day, saying he supported the federal Hyde amendment.

The former mayor restated that view during the debate.

"I believe that the Hyde amendment should remain the law. States should make their decision. Some states decide to do it, most states decide not to do it. And I think that’s the appropriate way to have this decided," he said.

"I supported it in New York," he added about the state’s decision to force its residents to pay for abortions.

Finally, the candidates responded to a question on embryonic stem cell research.

Romney responded saying that "I will not create new embryos through cloning or through embryo farming because that would be creating life for the purpose of destroying it" and adding that he would prefer alternatives like adult stem cell research.

Brownback agreed with Romney and said he respects the views of those like Nancy Reagan who want federal funding.

"I’ve studied this matter a great deal," he explained. "We are curing and healing people with adult stem cells. It is not necessary to kill a human life for us to heal people, and we’re doing it with adult stem cell work and it’s getting done."

Gilmore agreed as well, saying, "We can’t create people in order to experiment with people" and Huckabee chimed in too adding, "I would concur. I don’t think it’s right to create a life to end a life. That’s not a good health decision."

"I’d like to show Mrs. Reagan the alternatives, which are adult stem cells," Tancredo said.

Thompson didn’t get to his position, but he supports forcing taxpayers to pay for embryonic stem cell research as does McCain, who said, "I believe that we need to fund this."

Giuliani concluded saying, "As long as we’re not creating life in order to destroy it, as long as we’re not having human cloning, and we limit it to that, and there is plenty of opportunity to then use federal funds in those situations where you have limitations."