Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush defended his pro-life position during last night’s Republican presidential debate, but he likely turned off a considerable number of pro-life voters by defending abortions in cases of rape — calling such a position the “sweet spot” for any GOP presidential candidate.
Bush started his response well to the moderator’s question about abortion and his attack on pro-life Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who opposes abortions in cases of rape or incest. Rubio defended his own pro-life position during the debate while Chris Christie defended abortions in cases of rape or incest.
“Look, I’m pro-life. In fact, on this stage, I’m the most pro-life person because I’ve acted on it for eight years as governor of the state of Florida,” Bush said.
He went on to tout his pro-life record as Florida’s governor: “Where we abolished partial-birth abortion, where parents have the right to be notified when their teenage child is having an abortion. We were the first state to do a choose life license plate to raise money for adoption. We were the first state to have state monies go to crisis pregnancy centers, which recently was just increased to $4 million a year.”
“We created greater regulation on abortion clinics, where there were horrific procedures,” he continued.
But then Bush pivoted to the rape question.
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“So I’m pro life, but I believe there should be exceptions: rape, incest and when the life of the mother is in danger. And so, that belief, and my consistency on this, makes me, I think, poised to be in the right place, the sweet spot for a Republican nominee. And others may have a different view and I respect it,” he said. “But I think we have to be cognizant of the fact there’s a lot of people that are concerned about having a pro-life position without any exceptions.”
On twitter, pro-life advocates took exception to his comments:
Hey @JebBush if you believe in exceptions on abortion, you are most definitely NOT the most pro-life person on the stage. #GOPDebate
— Andrew Hebert (@andrewhebert86) February 7, 2016
Because of those abortion answers, I’ve just switched my allegiance from @JebBush to @marcorubio. #GOPDebate
— Collin Garbarino (@cgarbarino) February 7, 2016