A lot of attention has been paid to Rudy Giuliani’s position on abortion, and to his muddled answer to the abortion question at the first Republican presidential primary debate May 3rd. But not much focus has been put on what may be the most problematic part of his answer. As quoted by Charles Krauthammer in his latest column:
On repealing Roe v. Wade:
Giuliani: It would be okay to repeal. It would be also [okay] if a strict constructionist judge viewed it as precedent, and I think a judge has to make that decision.
Moderator: Would it be okay if they didn’t repeal it?
Giuliani: I think the court has to make that decision, and then the country can deal with it. . . . States can make their own decisions.
It’s fine to have disagreement about what the role of government should be in regulating abortion, but that last part of Giuliani’s answer was just factually wrong and contradictory. It bears repeating that if Roe is overturned, it won’t make abortion illegal in the United States, it will merely return the issue to the democratic process – i.e. it will allow states to decide.
But if Roe is not overturned, then states can’t make their own decisions. It’s an either/or proposition – either you’re for judges deciding or you’re for the states deciding. Mr. Giuliani can’t have it both ways on that question, pro-choice or not. Perhaps he simply misspoke as he was being cut off in the overly rushed format of the debate. As he seeks to clarify his position on abortion, he needs to clarify what he was trying to say in that instance as well. He needs to demonstrate that he understands all of the issues involved – the larger questions about the constitution and the proper role of judges as well as the abortion issue. Ones position on Roe and on abortion are two separate issues.
This morning on Fox News Sunday, Giuliani basically repeated his answer from the debate, unfortunately including the “let states decide” part:
GIULIANI: What I meant to convey [during the May 3rd debate] – if I didn’t convey it correctly, I’ll convey it again. The country could handle it. I mean, the country – we’ve got a federal system. What would happen is states would make decisions.
Chris Wallace did a good job in pressing him on his abortion views, and Mr. Giuliani’s position about not having a litmus test for judicial nominations was reasonable (overall, Giuliani handled himself quite well throughout the interview), but Wallace should have pressed for an answer to the question of whether Giuliani himself thinks Roe was decided wrongly. We at least would still like to hear a clear answer to that question.