Remember when Hillary Clinton made it sound like she didn’t favor any government involvement in late-term abortions in an interview with CBS?
Well she’s backtracking on that. Here’s her comment to NBC’s Chuck Todd, as grabbed by The Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross.
That’s a B-I-G big difference from the CBS comment and there’s no other way to spin it. At the same time, Clinton didn’t say she supported restrictions after say 26 weeks, but closer to weeks 35-44. So basically late term abortion. Now here is where Clinton gets her facts wrong regarding when states can enact restrictions on abortion. She says it’s in the later term, but that’s not what justices ruled in Roe v. Wade. From section 1 of part XI of the ruling (emphasis mine).
To summarize and to repeat:
1. A state criminal abortion statute of the current Texas type, that excepts from criminality only a life-saving procedure on behalf of the mother, without regard to pregnancy stage and without recognition of the other interests involved, is violative of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
(a) For the stage prior to approximately the end of the first trimester, the abortion decision and its effectuation must be left to the medical judgment of the pregnant woman’s attending physician.
(b) For the stage subsequent to approximately the end of the first trimester, the State, in promoting its interest in the health of the mother, may, if it chooses, regulate the abortion procedure in ways that are reasonably related to maternal health.
So, yes, Roe v. Wade says states can enact restrictions not only in the final trimester, but in the second trimester as well. Clinton either has no idea what the ruling actually was or was trying (key word trying) to be as nebulous as possible to not make Planned Parenthood supporters angry. But it shouldn’t be surprising to see Clinton take this tactic. After all, she tweeted this after the House decided to ban late-term abortions in May.
When it comes to women's health, there are two kinds of experts: women and their doctors. True 40+ years ago, true today. -H
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) May 13, 2015
So which is it? Does she support late-term abortion bans or not? It’s a question Clinton will still have to keep answering, even if she doesn’t want to. Abortion isn’t always tops on the list of “will I, won’t I” when it comes to deciding on a candidate, but it is for some. A Gallup poll from May showed 51% believed abortion should be allowed in certain circumstances, while only 29% believed it should be legal regardless. Gallup also has a more detailed breakdown below.
What this shows is that while there are Americans who believe in some restrictions, they don’t believe in just willy-nilly free-for-all abortion. What Clinton is going to have to do is decide where her own personal line in the sand is regarding abortion. She’s given a variety of answers which may or may not satisfy the pro-life Democrats which are out there. It also may not even matter, although the Planned Parenthood videos from Center for Medical Progress are making abortion an issue.
Here’s a strategy Republicans can use against Clinton on abortion which has nothing to do with when she wants the restrictions or not. If Clinton is wishy-washy on this topic, what else is she “flexible” on? She’s proposed a sliding capital gains tax rate, but would she backtrack on that? She’s promised to make it easier for small businesses to start in the U.S., but would she backtrack on that? If Clinton says she won’t get the U.S. involved in a war in Syria, will she backtrack there (the answer is, “most likely,” because she did want the U.S to start striking Assad in 2013)? People like being able to “trust” politicians. Clinton’s seemingly malleable answer on abortion could cut into that. But it’s only going to work if whoever the GOP candidate is asks them correctly. If it just comes off like a, “Oh Hillary is inconsistent on abortion!” comment it’s probably not going to affect anything else. By tying her multiple answers on abortion to other issues, the GOP could make headway into whatever it is Clinton is pushing.
There’s still no guarantee Clinton will be the Democratic nominee anyway. If Vice President Joe Biden does decide to get into the race, Clinton is going to be in a bigger fight than she wants. It’s already bad enough for her with Bernie Sanders running (depending on the poll), but Biden’s already taken a pretty pro-life stance, contrary to Clinton. But if she does win the primary, the GOP has a chance to batter her trustworthiness by pointing out her inconsistency on abortion and the possibility she’s going to be inconsistent on a lot more issues which may be more important to voters. That is, if they’re actually willing to do it. There’s no guarantee of that either because it is the GOP.