2008 Presidential Candidates on Abortion

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This article presents the positions of the 2008 presidential candidates on abortion. It primarily relies on statements found on the candidates' campaign web sites. In some cases we add some additional notes.

Candidate From their campaign websites Notes Our rating
Hillary Clinton "When it comes to each woman's ability to make the most personal of life decisions, Hillary has stood firm as an advocate for a woman's right to choose. She has expanded access to family planning services, including for low-income women. She spoke out forcefully against the Supreme Court's April 2007 decision that -- for the first time in decades -- failed to recognize the importance of women's health."


Strongly pro-choice
John Edwards "Protecting Women's Right to Choose: The decision about whether to become a parent is one of the most important decisions that a woman can face. Edwards believes that she should make it with her family, her doctor and in the context of her religious and ethical values. He will protect and defend the right to choose and reverse the damage that has been done by President Bush's anti-choice agenda."


Strongly pro-choice
Barack Obama "Barack Obama is unequivocally, 100 percent pro-choice. His votes in the Illinois senate were part of a legislative strategy devised for and by the pro-choice community. ... He doesn't just talk about providing access to reproductive care for all women - he has a long record of doing something about it."


Strongly pro-choice
Rudy Giuliani "Mayor Giuliani pioneered initiatives that increased adoptions by 133%, while the number of abortions in New York City fell faster than the national average. ... Rudy supports parental notification and the ban on partial birth abortion. ... Rudy will veto any attempt to weaken the Hyde Amendment and other limits on the public funding of abortions, like the Mexico City Policy."


Giuliani has openly stated that he is pro-choice. In his campaign for the Republican nomination he has soft-pedaled this position and points out things he would do if elected that pro-lifers should approve of, like appointing judges who believe in strict constructionism, and thus would likely soften or reverse Roe v Wade. Somewhat pro-choice
Mike Huckabee "I support and have always supported passage of a constitutional amendment to protect the right to life. My convictions regarding the sanctity of life have always been clear and consistent, without equivocation or wavering. I believe that Roe v. Wade should be over-turned. I applaud the Supreme Court's recent decision in Gonzales v. Carhart forbidding the gruesome practice of partial birth abortion. While I am optimistic that we are turning the tide in favor of life, we still have many battles ahead of us to protect those who cannot protect themselves, and so it is vital that we elect a pro-life President. ... I first became politically active because of abortion, when I helped pass Arkansas' Unborn Child Amendment, which requires the state to do whatever it legally can to protect life."


Strongly pro-life
John McCain "John McCain believes Roe v. Wade is a flawed decision that must be overturned, and as president he will nominate judges who understand that courts should not be in the business of legislating from the bench. Constitutional balance would be restored by the reversal of Roe v. Wade, returning the abortion question to the individual states. The difficult issue of abortion should not be decided by judicial fiat.

"However, the reversal of Roe v. Wade represents only one step in the long path toward ending abortion. ... The pro-life movement has done tremendous work in building and reinforcing the infrastructure of civil society by strengthening faith-based, community, and neighborhood organizations that provide critical services to pregnant mothers in need. This work must continue and government must find new ways to empower and strengthen these armies of compassion. These important groups can help build the consensus necessary to end abortion at the state level. "

"At its core, abortion is a human tragedy. To effect meaningful change, we must engage the debate at a human level."


McCain has a pro-life voting record but continues to alienate pro-lifers. He has attacked the Christian right. He co-wrote the McCain-Feingold "campaign finance reform" bill that severely limits the ability of activists such as pro-lifers to attempt to influence the government, and which many social action organizations describe as an attack on free speech. Mostly pro-life
Ron Paul "I am strongly pro life. Life begins at conception ... but, I do not believe this should be a federal matter. All issues of life and violence and crime and murder are dealt with at the local level. ”

"The right of an innocent, unborn child to life is at the heart of the American ideals of liberty. My professional and legislative record demonstrates my strong commitment to this pro-life principle. In 40 years of medical practice, I never once considered performing an abortion, nor did I ever find abortion necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman. In Congress, I have authored legislation that seeks to define life as beginning at conception, HR 1094. I am also the prime sponsor of HR 300, which would negate the effect of Roe v Wade by removing the ability of federal courts to interfere with state legislation to protect life. This is a practical, direct approach to ending federal court tyranny which threatens our constitutional republic and has caused the deaths of 45 million of the unborn. I have also authored HR 1095, which prevents federal funds to be used for so-called “population control.”

"Many talk about being pro-life. I have taken direct action to restore protection for the unborn.

"As an OB/GYN doctor, I’ve delivered over 4,000 babies. That experience has made me an unshakable foe of abortion. Many of you may have read my book, Challenge To Liberty, which champions the idea that there cannot be liberty in a society unless the rights of all innocents are protected. Much can be understood about the civility of a society in observing its regard for the dignity of human life.


As a libertarian, Paul believes that abortion is a matter for state legislatures and not the federal government to decide. Some pro-lifers object to this because they hope for a nationwide ban on abortion as an ultimate goal. Strongly pro-life
Mitt Romney "What became clear during the cloning debate is how the harsh logic of an absolute right to abortion had cheapened the value of human life to the point that rational people saw a human embryo as nothing more than mere research material to be used, and then destroyed. My experience as Governor taught me firsthand that the threat to our culture is real and those in a position to do so must take action to defend it."

"Governor Romney believes that Roe v. Wade should be overturned so that the issue of abortion can be returned to the American people and their elected representatives at the state and federal level."


Romney was pro-choice but changed his position shortly before running for president. Strongly pro-life (if we accept his conversion)
Fred Thompson "Fred Thompson Has A Demonstrated Record Of Supporting Human Life And A 100% Pro-Life Voting Record."

"Opposes Taxpayer Funding For Abortions And Supports Supported Taxpayer Funding For Abortions And Upholding Roe V. Wade"

“I think Roe vs. Wade was bad law and bad medical science. And the way to address that is through good judges.”


There's a curious controversy: A pro-abortion organization claims that they paid Thompson to lobby for them in the early 90's. Thompson says he never did this. Also, there are reports that Thompson has made statements that he is "personally opposed" to abortion but does not think it should be illegal. Media reports on this are mixed and inconclusive. Either there's an attempt going on to smear Thompson in the eyes of pro-lifers, or Thompson is trying to cover up a mixed record to appeal to pro-lifers. Probably pro-life but unclear

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Posted Jan 11, 2008

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