Bachmann Misrepresents Pawlenty’s Pro-Life View in GOP Debate

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 12, 2011   |   11:49AM   |   Des Moines, IA

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is strongly pro-life, but she misrepresented pro-life issues during the Republican debate in Iowa on Thursday night — during which GOP candidates articulated their pro-life views.

Bachmann, of Minnesota, and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty got into a heated exchange over the comparison of Bachmann’s and Pawlenty’s record on various political issues — including abortion.

Bachmann sought to make it appear Pawlenty deviated from his fiscally conservative record by raising fees on cigarettes and she also made it appear Pawlenty agreed to a bill that revoked pro-life protections for unborn children.

“I was very vocal against that tax, and I fought against that tax. The problem is, when the deal was put together, Governor Pawlenty cut a deal with the special interest groups and he put in the same bill, a vote to increase the cigarette tax, as well as the vote that would take away protections from the unborn,” Bachmann said. “I made a decision, I believe in the sanctity of human life. And I believe you can get money wrong, but you can’t get life wrong. That’s why I came down on that decision that I made.”

However, Bachmann’s comments on the bill are at variance with the facts, as the bill contained a pro-life provision supported by Minnesota’s biggest pro-life group.

During the debate over the legislation, Republicans in the state legislature added a pro-life provision to the bill containing the fees in order to attract more conservative support for the legislation. Specifically, they added a new law, the Unborn Child Pain Prevention Act, that made Minnesota the second in the nation to have a law requiring abortion practitioner to tell women about the pain their unborn child will experience during a later-term abortion. Under the law, abortion practitioners are also required to allow women more than 20 weeks along and considering an abortion to request that anesthesia be given to the unborn child before performing it.

The law drew the praise of the “special interest groups” Bachmann condemned — notably Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life. MCCL spokeswoman Jackie Moen said at the time that the bill helps people to “know that these are unborn children, and they can feel pain.”

“The people of Minnesota need to have information about fetal pain available to them,” Scott Fischbach, executive director of MCCL, said, then. “Experts in the emerging field of in utero surgery and anesthesiology for unborn children have established that unborn babies feel pain as early as 13 weeks or younger.”

Pawlenty responded to the comments from Bachmann and said the U.S. Representative got her facts wrong.

“Yeah, what is wrong in the answer is the answer,” he said. “Congresswoman Bachmann didn’t vote for that bill because of stripping away of pro-life protection, she voted for it and now creating that as an excuse.”

But Bachmann persisted, saying, “I didn’t cut deals with special interest groups where you put the pro-life issues together with tax increase issues. That’s a non-negotiable. When we come to a non-negotiable, we must stand. And I stand.”

Pawlenty disagreed, saying Bachmann voted for the bill she condemned.

“Very quickly. Her answer is illogical, if there were two bad things in the bill, a tax increase and hypothetically stripping away pro-life protections, which we weren’t, then it is a double reason to vote against it. She voted for it,” he said.

Curiously, Bachmann’s campaign put out a statement after the debate confirming that the bill contained the pro-life provision — not something “that would take away protections from the unborn.”

“The legislation that included the cigarette tax also contained a strong pro-life provision, giving it the strong support of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, the state’s largest pro-life organization,” her campaign said in an email to LifeNews.

Bachmann and Pawlenty are both pro-life stalwarts and either would be a welcome change from the aggressively pro-abortion record President Barack Obama put forward. However, in this instance, Bachmann erroneously made the claim that a bill she and Pawlenty both supported hurt unborn children when it contained a measure that has become the basis for banning abortions after 20 weeks in states like Nebraska and Oklahoma.