“I am a firm supporter of the principles laid out 50 years ago in Roe v. Wade,” Kennedy said in a statement Monday. “For constitutional and moral reasons, I believe the decision on whether to continue a pregnancy should be up to the mother.”
“Roe v. Wade served this country well for 50 years,” he added. “I support the judicial principles behind it. If the courts do not overturn Dobbs v. Jackson and restore abortion rights, I will support legislation to accomplish the same. Body sovereignty must be protected.”
But in an interview on Sunday, Kennedy had said that he would support protections for the unborn after three months of pregnancy. “I believe a decision to abort a child should be up to the women during the first three months of life,” he said, according to NBC News.
And when he was pressed on whether that meant as president he would sign into law protections for the unborn at 15 or 21 weeks, Kennedy said yes.
“Once a child is viable outside the womb, I think then the state has an interest in protecting the child,” he added. “I’m for medical freedom. Individuals are able to make their own choices.”
The news prompted Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser to critique Kennedy, pointing out that his Sunday position on abortion was more in line with a majority of Americans and a majority of Democrats.
“Courageous Democrats who stand up to bullies within their party are sadly few and far between. Diversity of thought when it comes to abortion is no longer encouraged or tolerated,” she said. “We urge Democrats who are being censored to be brave and come forward.”
“Candidates must be allowed to take morally sound, politically smart positions that align with the people,” Dannenfelser added. “Voters deserve clarity about every candidate’s true position on human life and to know who is really calling the shots in this campaign. Consultants are not the ones running to be president. That is why it is so important that every candidate is asked, ‘Where do you draw the line?’”
Democratic candidates repeatedly have shied away from defining where they stand on abortion, allowing their Republican opponents to insist that they support unrestricted abortion up until birth. As Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, insisted in 2020, “being pro-choice is an essential part” of being a Democrat.
Support for abortion has become a litmus test for many Democratic politicians. During the past presidential election cycle, then-candidate Joe Biden abandoned his former support for the Hyde Amendment, after strong backlash from pro-abortion groups, left-wing activists, and his fellow candidates—including his now-vice president. The Hyde Amendment, which dates back to the 1970s, bans the use of federal funding for most abortions.
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