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GOP hopefuls discuss abortion policy in Des Moines

BY KRISTEN EAST | OCTOBER 24, 2011 7:20 AM

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DES MOINES — Most of the Iowa caucus candidates in the state over the weekend said they'd use the office to push for more restrictive abortion rules. Some of them said they'd even pursue a Constitional amendment to effectively overturn Roe v. Wade.

Six Iowa caucus candidates took the stage to answer several questions from Iowa Energy Forum and Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition officials over the weekend in Des Moines.

And though several candidates said they would support introducing a Human Life Amendment — which would outlaw abortion nationally — activists maintained former efforts have been fruitless.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn, said she would support a Constitutional amendment to make abortion illegal.

 

"I would be fully supportive of a federal Constitutional amendment to define life from beginning of conception," she said. "I will support all pro-life language that comes across my desk."

According to the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment, more than 330 Human Life Amendment proposals have been introduced in Congress since 1973.

Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., agreed with Bachmann, noting that he had several pieces of anti-abortion legislation while serving in the Senate in the 1990s and 2000s.

"This is a human life from the moment of conception," Santorum said. "We will not differentiate what is an illegal and biological fallacy that a human life is not a person, that a human life is different because it's located in the womb as opposed to outside."

Though businessman Herman Cain maintained he was pro-life during the forum, he was criticized by Republicans earlier this month for being unclear on his stance during an interview with CNN last week.

"It comes down to it's not the government's role or anybody else's role to make that decision," Cain said. "Second, if you look at the statistical incidents, you're not talking about that big a number. So what I'm saying is it ultimately gets down to a choice that family or that mother has to make."

Emily Sullivan, the president of the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance at the University of Iowa, said a woman's right to choice should not be taken away.

"Most of the current Republican presidential candidates won't ever have a uterus for which to make that very personal choice," she said. "That is why it is very important to get more pro-women women involved in politics."

Maggie DeWitte, the executive director of Iowans for LIFE, said she was pleased to hear support from the candidates.

"That's been a mission of Iowans for LIFE for many years," DeWitte said. "We all deserve rights, and for a presidential candidate to acknowledge that, that is definitely a step in the right direction."

But even pro-choice women's organizations don't believe the legislation is likely.

Jean Classon, the president of the Iowa National Organization for Women, said she doesn't think it's likely a Human Rights Amendment would ever be enacted.

"There's been no change in this issue since 1973," Classon said. "They're always going to try to overturn [Roe v. Wade], and if they can't do that, they're going to chip away at abortion rights with one way or another."


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