NARAL reviews where 12 GOP presidential candidates stand on reproductive rights
UPDATED: Aug 12, 9:30 a.m. EST, with a correction
Of the approximately 15 Republicans who have either announced or hinted a run for president in 2012, the abortion-rights policy group NARAL Pro-Choice America has identified the 12 most prominent potential contenders as presenting a threat to women’s access to abortion and family-planning services.
On Thursday, NARAL policy directors briefed reporters on a new report analyzing the records and statements of current GOP candidates, released just before the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa on Aug. 13. It is the first phase of the organization’s election-related analysis, said NARAL communications director Ted Miller.
“As the campaign evolves and one of these candidates emerges, we will be comparing his or her [record on abortion rights] to Obama’s,” Miller said.
The report highlights each potential candidate’s record on abortion-related legislation, pledges to anti-abortion rights organizations and public statements. Neither the report nor NARAL directors would rank the candidates in terms of being more or less “anti-choice” than others. Melissa Moskowitz, deputy policy director and general counsel, said that based on the research, all the GOP candidates are considered by NARAL to be “anti-choice,” except for former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose past statements have made his stance on abortion rights unclear.
“The outcome of the 2012 presidential election very well could determine whether abortion remains legal and accessible for the next generation of American women,” said NARAL policy director Donna Crane. “The occupant of the White House wields more power over reproductive rights than any other person. … Depending on who occupies the office, that unique authority can be used either to protect or to take away our rights. “
A breakdown of NARAL’s findings:
1. U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn., 2007-present; former state senator, 2001-2007)
During her four years in Congress, Bachmann has cast 12 “anti-choice” votes, according to NARAL researchers.
She voted for the House-passed No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act; she voted to prohibit the District of Columbia from using local revenue to provide abortion services for low income women; and she voted for U.S. Rep. Steve King’s (R-Iowa) amendment to the 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill, which would block the Food and Drug Administration from using funds for testing, approving or regulating the abortion-inducing drug mifepristone. In the Minnesota state Senate in 2001, she co-sponsored a constitutional amendment to block public funding of any organization associated with an organization that provides, counsels or refers for abortion. She signed the Susan B. Anthony List’s anti-abortion rights presidential pledge.
Speaking on the House floor in February 2009 in opposition to the “Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2009″:
“Contraceptives can cause serious medical problems like blood clots and migraine headaches. Even worse, they can be dispensed in certain combinations to prevent implantation of a new baby, a form of abortion that many parents and young girls find morally reprehensible. This ‘morning after pill’ can also be used to hide evidence of sexual abuse, one of the very forms of abuse that his legislation is seeking to prevent.”
2. Herman Cain (former chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza)
Cain has no legislative voting record, but he has signed a “Protect the Unborn Pledge,” when he ran for U.S. Senate in 2004, pledging to introduce legislation that would “restore legal, moral protection of unborn human life”; confirm conservative federal judges; oppose abortion for pregnancy resulting from rape or incest.
He, however, did not sign the SBA List’s pledge, stating in his defense:
“In no way does this singular instance of clarification denote an abandonment of the pro-life movement, but is instead a testament to my respect for the balance of power and the role of the presidency.”
In 2004, Cain released a statement on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. In part, he wrote:
“Unbelievably, the decision of Roe v. Wade shows that our nation still chooses to place human convenience over the sanctity of human life.”
3. Newt Gingrich (former speaker of the House, 1995-1998; former U.S. rep. of Georgia, 1979-1998)
NARAL reports that Gingrich cast 74 votes on abortion and other reproductive-rights issues; 72 of those were considered to be “anti-choice.” He has repeatedly voted for the Federal Abortion Ban, which criminalizes some abortion services, and he has voted to eliminate the Title X family-planning program. He signed the SBA List pledge last month.
“End taxpayer subsidies for abortion by repealing Obamacare, defunding Planned Parenthood, and reinstating the ‘Mexico City Policy’ which banned funding to organizations that promote and/or perform abortions overseas.”
4. Mayor Rudy Giuliani (former mayor of New York City, 1994-2001)
NARAL notes that as mayor, Giuliani “supported pro-choice measures” but has since made “conflicting statements regarding his position on choice.”
In 1994, he signed into a measure similar to the federal “Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act,” which established criminal and civil penalties for those who damage or obstruct access to abortion and family-planning clinics.
During his first mayoral campaign in 1989, in an interview with New York Magazine:
“I am opposed to abortion. I have advocated the reversal of Roe v. Wadebecause I think it was incorrectly decided.”
In a press statement later in 1989, quoted by The New York Times:
“As mayor, Rudy Giuliani will uphold a woman’s right of choice to have an abortion. Giuliani will fund all city programs which provide abortions to insure that no woman is deprived of her right due to an inability to pay. … He will oppose making abortion illegal.”
In a 1999 interview:
In 2007, during a GOP presidential debate, when asked if the repeal of Roe v. Wadewould be a “good day for America,” he said:
“It would be OK to repeal.”
5. Jon Huntsman (former governor of Utah, 2005-2009)
As governor, Huntsman signed into law measures that established a state fund to defend abortion restrictions in court, criminalized some abortion services and required minors seeking abortions to notify their parents even if they come from purportedly “violent, abusive, or neglectful homes.”
Huntsman also passed laws considered “pro-choice” by NARAL: a bill that promotes sexually transmitted disease prevention by establishing a public education campaign and a bill that ensures that sexual assault victims receive information on and access to emergency contraception.
“I do not believe the Republican party should focus only on our economic life – to the neglect of our human life. … If Republicans ignore life, the deficit we will face is one that is much more destructive. It will be a deficit of the heart and of the soul.”
6. Sarah Palin (former governor of Alaska, 2006-2009)
As governor, Palin cut more than $1 million from a state housing program for teen mothers.
She has advocated for the right to an abortion only in the instance where a mother’s life would be at risk, but not in cases of rape or incest.
Palin has stated:
“The Supreme Court, along with the rest of the federal judiciary, has tremendous power over our lives today. Their rulings mean the difference between the survival of innocent life and the state-sanctioned killing of innocent life. The reason this is the case is because so many of the people who appoint and approve our judges and justices erroneously believe the courts duty isn’t to interpret the law but to MAKE the law.”
7. U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas, 1979-1985 and 1997-present)
NARAL’s researchers found that Paul has cast 106 votes on abortion and reproductive-rights issues, 93 percent of them “anti-choice.” He signed the SBA pledge last month. He has authored legislation that gives “personhood” rights to an embryo and a fetus; he has repeatedly voted for the Federal Abortion Ban; and has repeatedly voted against international family-planning programs.
In an interview with The American View, when asked if abortion should come with a penalty:
“The girl who goes and gets an abortion, she’s a participant in it, I don’t think she deserves the death penalty. … But there are some abortionists that it wouldn’t be very hard to give them a pretty harsh punishment, because, you know, nothing annoys me more than the fact that an abortionist can make money killing a live viable fetus, in the third trimester, and they think nothing about it. … And yet, one minute after birth, that same mother, who might throw the child way, rightfully is called to task, and actually charged with murder. So that inconsistency has to be resolved.”
8. Tim Pawlenty (former governor of Minnesota, 2003-2011; state* rep. 1993-2003)
As a state* representative, Pawlenty co-sponsored a bill that criminalized some abortion services and carried a 15-year prison sentence for doctors. As governor, he signed into law a measure that prohibits organizations receiving state funds from referring women for abortion services.
He has also signed into law what NARAL deems “pro-choice” measures: a bill ensuring access to emergency contraception for rape victims, a bill improving access to family-planning services for low-income women and a bill expanding Medicaid to cover more pregnant low-income women in Minnesota.
He signed the SBA pledge.
During a closed-to-the-press anti-abortion fundraiser for the SBA List in March 2010:
“We don’t honor the Constitution when we elevate a vague idea that is the right to privacy over the right to life.”
9. Gov. Rick Perry (governor of Texas, 2000-present; lieutenant governor 1999-2000; Texas House rep., 1985-1991)
As governor in 2005, he signed into law a measure banning abortion after “viability,” without any exception. In 2003, he signed into law a bill requiring women to receive a state-mandated lecture on “risks” to abortion (which organizations such as NARAL claim are medically inaccurate); this year Perry updated the law, requiring some women to make more than one to trip to the abortion provider before being able to obtain an abortion.
Perry has also signed into law measures NARAL considers to be “pro-choice:” a bill increasing access to health-care services for pregnant women and a bill expanding sex-education for young people.
At an anti-abortion rally in Los Angeles last month:
“Roe v. Wade is nothing but a shameful footnote in our nation’s history books.”
10. Charles Elson “Buddy” Roemer III (former governor of Louisiana, 1988-1992; U.S. House rep. 1981-1988)
Roemer cast 13 out of 16 “anti-choice” votes. He has voted against international family-planning programs, and he has signed legislation to ban contraceptive services and counseling or referral for abortion at school-based health centers.
Roemer has also vetoed legislation that would ban abortion except in cases where the woman’s life is in danger or in cases of rape or incest.
At the South Carolina GOP debate in May:
“I do believe in exceptions like rape and incest in order for the sanctity of the family to be protected. But I’m a pro-lifer and I thought that the federal money spent on Planned Parenthood that went directly to abortions — one of the leading abortion organizations in the country — was strong, and is wrong, and must be stopped.”
11. Mitt Romney (former governor of Massachusetts, 2003-2007)
During his time as governor, Romney’s position on abortion rights shifted from being pro- to anti-.
In 2005 he vetoed a measure that would have increased access to emergency contraception by allowing pharmacists to dispense the pill without a prescription. From 1998 to 2006, the state used “abstinence-only” funds for public service announcements, not classroom courses, according to the Boston Globe.
In an interview with the National Review Online in 2007:
“I’d like to see Roe v. Wade overturned and allow the states and the elected representatives of the people and the people themselves have the ability to put in place pro-life legislation. And of course it’s our aspiration that at some point we’ll see a nation that doesn’t have abortion.”
12. Rick Santorum (former U.S. senator of Pennsylvania, 1995-2007; U.S. rep., 1991-1995)
In the House, Santorum cast 27 “anti-choice” votes on reproductive-rights related issues; in the Senate he cast 72 out of 74 “anti-choice” votes. He has voted for “personhood” rights of an embryo, in favor of the Federal Abortion Ban and in favor of two Supreme Court and six lower court justice nominees with outspoken anti-abortion rights positions.
“The reason Social Security is in big trouble is we don’t have enough workers to support the retirees. Well, a third of all the young people in America are not in America today because of abortion, because one in three pregnancies end in abortion.”
*Correction: TAI incorrectly stated former Gov. Tim Pawlenty was a U.S. representative between 1993 and 2003. He was a Minnesota state representative. We regret the error