In a debate filled with fireworks and candidates dueling each other on multiple fronts on other political issues, some of the GOP presidential hopefuls struck pro-life themes during the Republican presidential debate in Iowa Thursday night.
Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty both were asked questions about their stances on pro-life issues. both candidates made their pro-life perspectives crystal clear for viewers.
Santorum was asked why he didn’t support abortion exceptions for rape and incest and he pointed out that society should help pregnant women in such cases rather than push them into abortions. He said the crime of rape should not be exacerbated by the crime of an abortion and that the unborn child did not deserve to die simply because of the circumstances surrounding his or her conception.
During his eloquent defense of the pro-life position against abortions in rare cases of rape or incest, he pointed out that under current law, a murderer or rapist can escape the death penalty, but a child conceived in rape cannot escape execution if the mother decides to have an abortion.
Santorum said: “You know the Supreme Court of the United States on a recent case said that a man who committed rape could not be killed, could not be subject to the death penalty, yet the child conceived as a result of that rape could be. That to me sounds like a country that doesn’t have its morals correct. That child did nothing wrong. [Applause.] That child is an innocent victim. To be victimized twice would be a horrible thing. It is an innocent human life. It is genetically human from the moment of conception, and it is a human life, and we in America should be big enough to try to surround ourselves and help women in those terrible situations who have been traumatized already, [to] put them through another trauma of abortion? I think it’s too much to ask and so I would absolutely stand and say that one violence is enough.”
The Fox News panel then asked Pawlenty, “Governor Pawlenty, you often cite an article in National Review saying you may be the strongest pro-life candidate in the race. What is your opinion on what Senator Santorum said about exceptions and isn’t he more pro-life than you are?”
“National Review I think is a respected publication from a conservative and Republican perspective. And they did an online article that said based on results, not rhetoric, based on results that I’m perhaps the most pro-life candidate in this race,” Pawlenty said.
“The reasons are these: number one, when I was in Minnesota as Governor, I proposed and signed into law the Women’s Right Know Bill. I proposed and signed into law the Positive Alternatives to Abortion Bill. I proposed and signed into law the Fetal Pain Bill and more and our abortion rate in Minnesota has dropped dramatically, in fact it is now at historic lows,” Pawlenty continued.
The former Minnesota governor didn’t have much support for abortions in cases of rape or incest, saying he would prefer only to support the life of the mother exception for extremely rare cases when a pregnancy would threaten her life. Pawlenty said he would prefer to stop abortions in all other cases, but could live with stopping 98% of all abortions if that was the best standard legislation could achieve.
“In terms of my personal views, the only exception I can really reconcile or justify is the life of the mother. And I would sign that bill if it came in that form as president or as governor,” he said. “But if another bill came with other exceptions that substantially advanced the pro-life cause I’d sign that bill too because I want to make progress to limit and ultimately end abortions in this country and I want to move the pro-life cause forward and I have. That’s why that publication said that perhaps I’m the most pro-life person on this stage, based on results, not just rhetoric.”
Byron York, the panelist, then asked Pawlenty a followup: “Do you support criminal charges for doctors who perform abortions?”
“I think there should be absolutely consequences for doctors who perform abortions if it’s illegal and when it is illegal and the possibility of criminal sanctions or severe civil sanctions. I don’t think the woman involved should be criminally sanctioned,” Pawlenty said.
Pawlenty also said former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had some judicial picks as governor that were not pro-life or conservative.
Earlier in the debate, pro-life Rep. Michele Bachmann misrepresented the pro-life record of Pawlenty — by saying he supposedly supported legislation that would have pushed back the pro-life cause in Minnesota.
Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor, also mentioned earlier in the debate that he holds a pro-life position.