Fred Thompson on abortion

The presidential hopeful wins the endorsement of the National Right to Life Committee.


Catherine Price
November 14, 2007 12:25AM (UTC)

According to ABC News, Fred Thompson has won the endorsement of the National Right to Life Committee, giving his campaign what ABC refers to as a "much-needed boost."

Thompson said that his own view toward (or, rather, against) abortion crystallized when he saw a sonogram of his daughter Hayden. "I can only say that after the first time in my life, seeing the sonogram of my own child, I will never think exactly the same again," he's quoted as saying. "I will never feel exactly the same again. Because my heart now is fully engaged with my head."

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He continued, "As president of the United States, no legislation will pass my desk that funds or supports this procedure without my veto."

Interestingly, Thompson, who's a strong supporter of state rights, does not support a constitutional ban on abortion -- partially, as he explains, because he believes it's a losing battle. "We could not get to first base on an amendment when we controlled both houses and the presidency," he's quoted as saying. "Now the question is, what do you do about that?"

Thompson's answer? Overturn Roe v. Wade. "I think the answer is to get better judges and to appoint people to the Supreme Court and hopefully someday Roe v. Wade will be overturned," he's quoted as saying. "That's my goal. That's my priority."

This isn't a surprising stance for a Republican candidate to take, considering that every Republican platform since 1980 has endorsed such an amendment, according to this opinion piece by Robert Novak in the Chicago Sun-Times. What's weird is how people have reacted to Thompson's position. This week he's got the Right to Life Committee's endorsement, but the title of Novak's opinion piece, which came out on Nov. 8, was "Fred Thompson's Stunning Error," and had to do specifically with Thompson's stance on abortion.

Novak was reacting to Thompson's performance on the previous week's "Meet the Press." Thompson had said he wouldn't endorse a constitutional amendment against abortion (which is consistent with what he's saying now) and said that young girls should not be criminalized for abortion -- which doesn't sound different from what he's quoted as saying today. Yet Novak asserts that Thompson's comments on "Meet the Press" "revealed [an] astounding lack of sensitivity about the abortion issue. Whether the candidate blurted out what he said or planned it, it reflects failure to realize how much his chances for the presidential nomination depend on social conservatives."

It seems to me like Novak got it wrong -- if today's news is to be believed, Fred Thompson is very aware of how much his nomination depends on the abortion issue. In fact, he said so himself. Quoted by ABC, he said, "I am blessed and grateful to have received their endorsement." You might not agree with his position, but it's hard to accuse him of not being clear about where he stands.

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Catherine Price

Catherine Price is an award-winning journalist and author of Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food. Her written and multimedia work has appeared in publications including The Best American Science Writing, The New York Times, Popular Science, O: The Oprah Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Slate, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, PARADE, Health Magazine, and Outside. Price lives in Philadelphia.

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