Gannett, AP claimed McCain opposes a constitutional amendment banning abortion -- but McCain said he supports it

››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

In recent comparisons of Barack Obama's and John McCain's positions, Gannett News Service and the Associated Press claimed that McCain opposes a constitutional amendment banning abortion. However, McCain has previously asserted that he supports such an amendment, and McCain advisers have reportedly said that he would not try to change the Republican Party's platform on abortion, which in 2004 called for a constitutional ban on abortion.

In recent comparisons of Sen. Barack Obama's and Sen. John McCain's positions, Gannett News Service and the Associated Press claimed that McCain opposes a constitutional amendment banning abortion. A June 5 Gannett News Service article asserted: "McCain opposes abortion except in cases of rape or incest or to protect the life of the mother. He believes Roe v. Wade should be overturned, but would not seek constitutional amendment banning abortion." Similarly, a June 3 Associated Press article stated that McCain "[w]ould not seek constitutional amendment to ban abortion." However, McCain has previously asserted that he supports a constitutional amendment banning abortion. In addition, other media outlets have reported that McCain advisers have said that he would not try to change the Republican Party's platform on abortion, which in 2004 called for a constitutional ban on abortion.

On the November 19, 2006, edition of ABC's This Week, host George Stephanopoulos said to McCain: "You're for a constitutional amendment banning abortion with some exceptions for life and rape and incest." McCain replied: "Rape, incest, and the life of the mother, yes." Stephanopoulos then asked: "So is President Bush, yet that hasn't advanced in the six years he's been in office. What are you going to do to advance a constitutional amendment that President Bush hasn't done?" McCain said: "I don't think a constitutional amendment is probably going to take place, but I do believe that it's very likely or possible that a Supreme Court should -- could overturn Roe v. Wade, which would then return these decisions to the states, which I support. ... I'm a federalist. Just as I believe that the issue of gay marriage should be decided by the states, so do I believe that we would be better off by having Roe v. Wade returned to the states."

An April 2 Washington Times article reported that "[a]dvisers to Sen. John McCain's presidential bid say he will not try to 'soften' the Republican party's platform on abortion. ... McCain associates told The Washington Times that his operatives are not going to work behind the scenes to eliminate the party's calls for constitutional bans on abortion and homosexual marriage before the GOP convention in September." The 2004 Republican Party platform states about "Promoting a Culture of Life":

As a country, we must keep our pledge to the first guarantee of the Declaration of Independence. That is why we say the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and we endorse legislation to make it clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to unborn children.

Similarly, ABC News' Teddy Davis reported on May 9 that "Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., the co-chairman of McCain's Justice Advisory Committee, significantly downplays the possibility that McCain would revise the party's call for a nationwide constitutional ban on abortion with no exceptions. 'I don't think that's going to happen. I think you're going to see a platform process that is going to maintain that plank,' said Brownback, a leading abortion rights opponent who endorsed McCain after ending his own White House bid."

On the May 11 edition of This Week (retrieved from Nexis), Stephanopoulos asked McCain senior adviser Carly Fiorina about the GOP platform. Stephanopoulos noted that the Obama campaign, in mapping an election strategy for independent voters, has "point[ed] to the GOP platform on abortion which is a constitutional amendment with no exceptions. No exceptions for rape, incest, life of the mother." He then asked Fiorina: "Senator McCain used to be for changing the platform. Now he's signaling -- to include those exemptions. Now, he's signaling it should stand as it is, aren't you worried that's going to turn off independents and moderate Republicans, especially women voters?" Fiorina replied: "John has been consistently pro-life. He also, as you perhaps know, has said that he supports stem cell research. I think in terms of the Republican platform there is a process in place where delegates work their will. And delegates come together the week before the convention and go through a series of proposals and take their votes. And that's the process that's going to be put in place. I can tell you right now that John McCain is not yet focused on the convention. Not yet focused on the platform."

During the 2000 primary, McCain also said he supported a constitutional amendment to ban abortion. On the January 30, 2000, edition of NBC's Meet the Press (retrieved from Nexis), host Tim Russert said to McCain: "A constitutional amendment to ban all abortions?" McCain replied: "Yes, sir." Russert then said: "You're for that?" McCain responded: "Yes, sir."

Additionally, the Gannett article stated that McCain "opposed the Bush tax cuts for not being paired with spending cuts but now says they should be made permanent" -- echoing a May 30 Gannett News Service "analysis" that asserted that McCain "voted against [President] Bush's tax cuts, calling them irresponsible without an accompanying resolve to cut government spending." However, as Media Matters for America has repeatedly noted, while McCain now claims that he voted against the tax cuts because they were not accompanied by offsetting spending cuts, McCain said at the time that he opposed the tax-cut bill because "so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us, at the expense of middle class Americans who most need tax relief."

From the June 5 Gannett News Service article:

McCain opposes abortion except in cases of rape or incest or to protect the life of the mother. He believes Roe v. Wade should be overturned, but would not seek constitutional amendment banning abortion.

[...]

McCain: "No new taxes" if elected. He opposed the Bush tax cuts for not being paired with spending cuts but now says they should be made permanent. He wants to lower the estate tax and taxes on dividends and capital gains.

From the June 3 Associated Press article:

ABORTION

McCain: Opposes abortion rights. Has voted for abortion restrictions permissible under Roe v. Wade, and now says he would seek to overturn that guarantee of abortion rights. Would not seek constitutional amendment to ban abortion.

Obama: Favors abortion rights.

From the January 30, 2000, edition of NBC's Meet the Press (retrieved from Nexis):

RUSSERT: Let me turn to the issue of abortion, which is a difficult one for all candidates. The Right to Life Committee had this to say about John McCain, and I'll put it on the screen for you and your viewers. They say: "Senator McCain's positions have been conflicting and we do not think he warrants the support of pro-life voters."

You have said that you believe life begins at conception.

McCAIN: Yes.

RUSSERT: And, yet, you want exceptions for rape and incest?

McCAIN: And the life of the mother, yes.

RUSSERT: That would be the taking of a human life?

McCAIN: Yes.

RUSSERT: How is that consistent morally?

McCAIN: Because I think that these are careful balances that you have to make. And by the way, that also happens to be Henry Hyde's amendment, the wording of Henry Hyde's amendment, who is the leading pro-life advocate in the Congress of the United States. We have to make careful decisions here. These are all moral problems that we have to work out for ourselves. The life of the mother, obviously, is a human life, too. The gripping aspects of rape and incest are terrible situations and we have to kind of come to conclusions, taking into consideration the interests of all parties in this very difficult issue.

I have come to the conclusion that the exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother are legitimate exceptions in this situation, but I don't claim to be a theologian. But I have my own moral beliefs and I hold those. And by the way, I do have a 17-year voting record that's pro-life. Mr. Johnson and the national pro-life committee have turned a cause into a business, and they are very worried that if I have campaign finance reform, all this uncontrolled, undisclosed contributions may be reduced and it may harm them in their efforts to continue this huge business they've got going in Washington, D.C.

RUSSERT: A constitutional amendment to ban all abortions?

McCAIN: Yes, sir.

RUSSERT: You're for that?

McCAIN: Yes, sir.

RUSSERT: If, in fact, all abortions were banned in America ...

McCAIN: I understand.

RUSSERT: ... under President McCain...

McCAIN: Understand.

RUSSERT: ... let's look at our country. What would happen to a woman who had an abortion?

Posted In
Health Care, Reproductive Rights
Network/Outlet
Associated Press
Show/Publication
Gannett News Service
Stories/Interests
John McCain, 2008 Elections
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