Raleigh, N.C., Feb 28, 2020 / 01:00 pm (CNA).- Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar would not say when she believes life begins when asked during a townhall event on Thursday evening. While repeating her openness to pro-life support, the senator explained that she is against proposed restrictions on abortion.
Sen. Klobuchar (D-Minn.), appearing at a townhall hosted by Fox News in Raleigh, North Carolina, was asked by moderator Martha MacCallum “At what point do you believe that life begins?” The senator had just explained her opposition to a ban on abortions after 20 weeks, proposed in the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act which failed in the Senate this week.
“Again, I follow Roe v. Wade,” Klobuchar responded to the question on when life begins. “And what Roe v. Wade allows for is the protection of a woman’s decision to make a decision about her own life, and then of course by the third trimester there’s some limits on it.”
The Thursday evening event was held ahead of Saturday’s South Carolina Democratic Primary, and next week’s “Super Tuesday” polls, in which more than a dozen states around the country will vote for the Democratic presidential nominee.
Klobuchar has a pro-abortion record in the U.S. Senate, and supports taxpayer-funded abortion and the codification of Roe v. Wade in federal law. Despite these positions, earlier this month the senator attempted to distance herself from other Democratic candidates and said there was a place in the Democratic party for pro-life voters. Klobuchar offered to collaborate with other pro-life supporters to reduce the number of abortions.
On Thursday, she reiterated that she would welcome pro-life Democrat support but emphasized that “I am strongly pro-choice” and “I always have been.” She also affirmed her support for taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood.
In 2019, the Trump administration finalized a rule clarifying that recipients of federal Title X family planning funds could not co-locate with abortion clinics, nor could they refer for abortions. Rather than comply with the new regulations, Planned Parenthood—the nation’s largest abortion provider—announced its withdrawal from the program.
The initial question to Klobuchar during the townhall came from Suzanne Balik, a computer science professor at N.C. State University speaking in her personal capacity as a “Democrat who cares about all life, including the unborn.”
“There are 21 million Democratic voters like me who believe in protection for unborn children,” she said to Klobuchar. “Do you think the Democratic Party should allow pro-life candidates to run for office, and if so, what steps would you take to include pro-life Democrats in the party?”
Klobuchar answered that “there’s a place in our party for a pro-life Democrat, there’s also a place in my support for pro-choice Republicans.”
However, she clarified, “I [would] be a pro-choice president.”
MacCallum brought up the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a ban on most abortions after 20 weeks based on when the unborn child can feel pain. The bill, introduced in the Senate by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) fell seven votes short of the 60-vote threshold to be considered for passage this week.
Klobuchar, who was not in Washington, D.C. for this week’s vote, said that she would have joined the Democrats in stopping the bill. Only two Democratic senators voted to allow the bill to progress: Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
“Roe v Wade is now the law of the land, and a lot of these bills are attempts to change that,” Klobuchar said. “If I was president, I would work with Congress to actually try to codify Roe v. Wade into law.”
The pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List criticized Klobuchar’s answer, in a series of tweets on Friday.
“You can’t have it both ways, AmyKlobuchar,” the group’s Twitter account stated. “You claim there *is* room in the Democratic Party for ProLife Americans. But you can’t/won’t say when life begins. You voted NO on medical care for living, breathing babies. Why would any ProLife American vote for you?”
The senator voted against legislation in 2019 that would require that babies who survive botched abortion attempts be given the same standard of care as any other infants born at the same gestational age, and be admitted to a hospital. The bill would also have levied penalties on a doctor or health care worker who failed to provide that care. The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act would not punish the mother.
SBA List said Klobuchar “hid behind the smokescreen of Roe v. Wade” in “claiming that it restricts abortion in the 3rd trimester.”
“It does nothing of the sort, and she knows it,” the group said.
While the Supreme Court’s Roe ruling allowed for restrictions on abortions past the point of fetal “viability,” the court’s “companion” ruling to Roe, the 1973 Supreme Court decision Doe v. Bolton, said that psychological and emotional health exceptions for the mother must be part of any post-viability restriction on abortion.
“This huge loophole ensures that in reality there are no real enforceable bans on even 3rd trimester abortions allowed under Roe & subsequent cases,” the group stated.
“Here’s the bottom line on Klobuchar: she is no moderate. She supports abortion-on-demand, all the way to birth, paid for by the taxpayer. Unless she flip-flops again, she doesn’t think there’s any room for pro-life Dems in the Party,” SBA List stated.