Fred Thompson on Abortion
Former Republican Senator (TN)
Q: Do you believe that abortion is the taking of life?
A: What the situation is now is as follows. Because of Roe vs. Wade, all states are restricted from passing rules that they otherwise would maybe like to pass with regard to this area. If you abolish Roe vs. Wade, you’re going to allow every state to pass reasonable rules that they might see fit to pass. There hasn’t been a serious effort to put forth a constitutional amendment because people knew that it wouldn’t pass. What I’ve been talking about is directing our energy toward something that was halfway practical, something that might could get done. So now where we have no states with the option of doing anything about it, then we would have however many states wanted to. You could move from zero yard line, to the 60- or 70-yard line instead of standing pat, which is where we will remain if we don’t abolish Roe vs. Wade.
Q: That is the essence of the pro-choice argument, not individual choice, but pro-choice for states.
A: No, not really. How many pro-choice people say that they want to see the abolition of Roe vs. Wade? I don’t know any. What I’m talking about is abolishing Roe vs. Wade [and allowing the abortion decision at the state level].
Q: So even if you disagree with them, states could have abortion on demand.
A: No, not abortion on demand. They could restrict. They would have the ability to restrict abortion more than they do now.
Q: But pre-Roe vs. Wade, some states had abortion on demand.
A: Well, they would not have anything under that situation that they don’t have now. I mean, the gain would be on the pro-life side. I mean, they have Roe vs. Wade and all of the progeny from that already.
Q: You would not?
A: No. That’s been my position the entire time I’ve been in politics. I thought Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided. I think this platform originally came out as a response to particularly Roe v. Wade because of that. Before Roe v. Wade, states made those decisions. I think people ought to be free at state and local levels to make decisions that even Fred Thompson disagrees with. That’s what freedom is all about. I think Roe v. Wade hopefully one day will be overturned, and we can go back to the pre-Roe v. Wade days.
Q: Each state would make their own abortion laws.
A: Yeah. But to have an amendment going back even further than pre-Roe v. Wade, to have a constitutional amendment to do that, I do not think would be the way to go
A: No. I didn’t know then.
Q: You know now?
A: My public position has always been the same. I’ve been 100% pro-life in every vote that I’ve ever cast.
Q: Do you believe that life begins at conception, so abortion is the taking of a human life?
A: Yes, I do.
A: But you would allow abortion to be performed in states if chosen by states for people who think otherwise?
A: I do not think that you can have a law that cuts off an age group or something like that. It cannot change the way I feel about it morally, but legally and practically, I’ve got to recognize that fact.
A: No, no. It’s a complex issue concerning whether or not you’re going to have a federal law, a federal constitutional amendment, those kinds of things. Nobody’s proposed a federal law on this. I had an opportunity to vote on an array of things over eight years, whether it be partial birth abortion, whether it be Mexico City policy, whether it be transporting young girls across state lines to avoid parental notification laws and all that--100% pro-life. I would take those same positions as president: No federal funding for abortion, no nothing that would in any way encourage abortion. I do not think it is a wise thing to criminalize young girls and perhaps their parents as aiders and abettors or perhaps their family physician. And that’s what you’re talking about. You’re talking about potential criminal law.
Q: No, what I said was that it was my private law practice, as opposed to my public service. I was a member of a large firm. And it was their client. They asked me to do a little work on it. I made a few calls. Frankly, I’d forgotten about it. But [Planned Parenthood has] come forward now, because I’m their worst nightmare.
Because many social conservatives see Thompson as their best hope for an anti-abortion president in 2008, any perceived weakness in his position on abortion could damage his appeal among those voters.
Thompson worked at Arent-Fox, which was hired in 1991 by the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association to help the group persuade the White House rescind a rule prohibiting abortion counseling at federally funded clinics. Reportedly, the only person who worked on the NFPRHA job was Thompson.
Thompson’s spokesman said Thompson “has no recollection of doing any work on behalf of this group. He may have been consulted by one of the firm’s partners who represented this group in 1991. As any lawyer would know, such consultations take place within law firms everyday.”
A: I don’t remember that box. It was a long time ago, and I don’t know if I filled it out or my staff, based on what they thought my position was, filled it out. But here’s what the deal is on that. I’ve always thought that Roe v. Wade was a wrong decision.
But, he adds: “I was interviewed and rated pro-life by the National Right to Life folks in 1994, and I had a 100% voting record on abortion issues while in the Senate.” Planned Parenthood gave him a ZERO rating because of his pro-life voting record. NARAL (National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League) gave him an “F” rating when considering potential vice-presidential candidates in 2000.
Ultimately, however, Thompson is motivated on the issue from a personal level, not just a legalistic or moralistic viewpoint. He has said the issue “means more’’ to him now because he has had two children in recent years. ”I have seen the sonograms of my babies.’’
Q: Do you want to overturn Roe v. Wade?
A: I think Roe v. Wade was bad law and bad medical science. And the way to address that is through good judges. I don’t think the court ought to wake up one day and make new social policy for the country. It’s contrary to what it’s been the past 200 years. We have a process in this country to do that. Judges shouldn’t be doing that. That’s what happened in that case. I think it was wrong.
|Other candidates on Abortion:||Fred Thompson on other issues:|
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader