Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has passionately defended his stance against abortion without exceptions for rape or incest, drawing heavy fire from Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in the process.
Rubio, a G.O.P. presidential candidate, had been accused of peddling inconsistent views following Thursday’s Republican primary debate in Cleveland prior to the reception of Clinton’s criticism.
During the debate, Rubio was asked by Fox News’ Megyn Kelly to share his position on the highly contentious issue.
Despite having co-sponsored the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act in 2013 - a bill designed to prohibit abortions being performed beyond 20 weeks, in cases where the mother’s life is in danger and where the pregnancy is the result of rape, or the result of incest against a minor - Rubio told the Fox News audience: “I have never said that. I have never advocated [for exceptions to abortion].”
Over the weekend, however, Rubio sought to clarify his position that while he does not support such exceptions, he would not rule them out if the overall impact is fewer abortions.
In an interview with Chuck Todd, the host of NBC’s Meet the Press program, the self-declared champion for limited government said: “I’ll support any legislation that reduces the number of abortions. And there are those that have that exception. What I’ve never done is said I require that it must have or not have exceptions.”
Ultimately, while a woman possesses certain rights over her body, Rubio said, his priority is in protecting the rights of an unborn child.
“Listen, you’re 15 years old and you become pregnant and you’re scared and you have your whole life ahead of you and you’re facing this, that is a hard situation,” Rubio eloquently told Todd. “[But] when asked to make a decision between two very hard circumstances, I’ve personally reached the conclusion if I’m going to err, I’m going to err on the side of life, on the side of protecting a human being.”
“I personally and deeply believe that all human life is worthy of the protection of our laws,” he added with utmost clarity.
Clinton, seeking to underline her pro-choice credentials, branded Rubio’s comments “deeply troubling” in remarks to reporters in New Hampshire Monday, the Washington Post has reported.
The former Secretary of State, forever the consummate politician, reportedly transitioned to Rubio’s abortion comments after she was asked about her thoughts on Donald Trump’s crudely insulting comments towards Megyn Kelly. When faced with a question he did not like, and referring to the debate host, Trump said, “There was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”
“I know it makes great TV,” said Clinton. “I think [Trump] went way overboard - offensive, outrageous, pick your adjective - but what Marco Rubio said has as much of an impact in terms of where the Republican Party is today as anybody else on that stage, and it is deeply troubling.”
Rubio, who has received praise for his debate performance, responded to Clinton in a statement released Monday. Citing Clinton’s purported support for abortion during pregnancy even “when an unborn child can feel pain,” it said: “[Clinton] holds some radical views on abortion that we look forward to exposing in the months to come.”
According to a Gallup poll conducted in May, 19 per cent of Americans believe abortion should be outlawed entirely. Just over half of those surveyed said they think abortion should be legal but only in certain circumstances - and 29 per cent of respondents said the practice must not be limited in any way.
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