Giuliani Waffles on Abortion

Hat-tip to Publius: in an interview on Hannity and Colmes, Giuliani tries placating everyone on abortion. He overall promises to appoint constructionist judges, but then backtracks and states that what he thinks constructionist judges will basically affirm Casey.

So what I do say to conservatives, because then, you know, you want to look at, well, OK, what can we look to that is similar to the way we think? I think the appointment of judges that I would make would be very similar to, if not exactly the same as, the last two judges that were appointed.

Chief Justice Roberts is somebody I work with, somebody I admire, Justice Alito someone I knew when he was U.S. attorney, also admire. If I had been president over the last four years, I can’t think of any, you know, that I’d do anything different with that.

Now, given that I’m pro-choice, I think it makes Giuliani a slightly worse candidate than I did before seeing this. But the emphasis is on “slightly,” because I can’t distinguish the above response from pandering.

When a Democrat promises to protect the right to choose or to withdraw from Iraq, I look at his record on those issues and at what he says to moderates and conservatives to see if I should believe him. The same principle should apply here: what was Giuliani’s record on abortion when he was Mayor of New York? Why should pro-lifers trust him given that he can shaft them and nominate Alberto Gonzales for Associate Justice?

And that’s just based on the above response. There’s a lot more coming afterward, when Hannity quizzes him about his positions on specific issues. Giuliani’s response is very mustelid, and manages to on the one hand come out in support of the Planned Parenthood v. Casey consensus and praise Justice Scalia, who dissented on the case.

HANNITY: Is Roe bad?

GIULIANI: I think that’s up to the court to decide. I think that it’s been precedent for a very, very long time. There are questions about the way it was decided and some of the bases for it. At this point, it’s precedent. It’s going to be very interesting to see what Chief Justice Roberts and what Justices Scalia and Alito do with it.

I think probably they’re going to limit it rather than overturn it. In other words, they’ll accept some of the limitations that different states have placed on it or the federal government has placed on it.

HANNITY: Partial birth?

GIULIANI: Partial-birth abortion, I think that’s going to be upheld. I think that ban is going to be upheld. I think it should be. And I think, as long as there’s provision for the life of the mother, then that’s something that should be done.

HANNITY: There’s a misconception that you supported partial-birth abortion.

GIULIANI: Yes, well, if it doesn’t have a provision for the life of the mother, then I wouldn’t support the legislation. If it has provision for the life of the mother, then I would support it.

HANNITY: Parental notification?

GIULIANI: Parental notification, I think you have to have a judicial bypass. If you do, you can have parental notification. And I think the court — I mean, that’s the kind of thing I think the court will do with abortion.

The other thing I should emphasize is, while I was the mayor — there’s a column that was just written about it — abortions in New York went down and adoptions went way up, because we worked on adoptions as an alternative, so that there’d be a real choice.

So that ultimately you respect a woman’s choice, but it should be a real choice, adoption or, if they make that choice, I don’t think the criminal law can interfere with it.

I rate the candidates on various issues on a scale of 0 to 10, where 10 is the best. Abortion is one of the easiest, since there’s no issue of managerial competence as on foreign policy or health care. When I started keeping track, I rated Brownback a 0, because of his strong emphasis on pro-life and otherwise fundamentalist politics. McCain was a 3, Romney a 4, and Giuliani, Edwards, Obama, and Clinton 6s.

Now I’m wavering between giving Clinton a 6 and giving her a 7. She waffles on abortion just as much as Edwards and Obama, but on all other issues she waffles far more, which provides circumstantial evidence that abortion is a priority for her.

On the same scale, Giuliani’s promise to appoint constructionist judges demotes him to a 5. The bulk of the ranking on abortion is derived from judicial nominations, so even though I would still not trust him if I were pro-life, I think his promise is somewhat worrying given that I’m pro-choice. I honestly don’t know whether he’s lying to pro-choicers, pro-lifers, or both, but if I were forced to choose between the first two, I’d say he’s lying to pro-choicers.

3 Responses to Giuliani Waffles on Abortion

  1. rmb says:

    First of all, anyone who claims to favor any given abortion restriction as long as it has an exception for the life of the mother, as opposed to a health exception, is paying lip service to the idea of women as full human beings. Second of all, anyone who supports a ban on “partial birth abortion” is either blatantly pandering or utterly ignorant. And since a pledge to support a “partial birth abortion” ban as long as it has a life-of-the-mother exception is a rather specific pledge, unlike pledging to appoint “strict constructionist judges”, I’m worried, to say the least. Third, anyone who thinks judicial bypasses provide a workable option for parental notification requirements is either inhumanly callous, ignorant, or blatantly pandering and inhumanly callous. Judging by Giuliani’s civil rights record as mayor, I’d guess some combination of 1 and 3. Honestly, I find it beyond reprehensible that he’s willing to throw away the lives and rights of pregnant teens to become president. “Pandering” isn’t an excuse when it’s a matter of principle – it makes someone worse. Similarly, it’s not a defense of Bush to say that he’s fine with gays in his private life – although by all accounts he is. That just makes it more disgusting that he would try to prop up his poll ratings by demonizing gays.

  2. Pseudonym says:

    The real problem here is that, as rmb alludes to, the issue isn’t abortion at all, but rather health care. Abortion is a medical procedure, and the entire developed world apart from the US believes that people have a right to medical procedures that they need.

    Abortion is, for the most part, not a polarising issue in the developed world outside the US. Inside the US, the “debate” isn’t actually a debate, but rather a slanging match between the two slogans of “choice” and “life”, neither of which is especially helpful.

    Incidentally, this is also the reason why the US persists in its insane “war on drugs”. Drug users (as opposed to drug traffickers, of course) are not a law enforcement problem, they’re a public health problem. And drug use will continue to be the problem that it is until the US understands this.

    When the US comes to grips with public health, all of these other, peripheral issues will fall out naturally.

  3. Alon Levy says:

    rmb, when it comes to his character, that’s certainly a negative. I’m not trumpeting him as a principled politician who just happens to be a moderate on abortion. The guy just can’t be trusted. But it goes both ways; if I were pro-life, I’d be a lot more comfortable with Brownback or even McCain than with Giuliani. I rank him higher than the other Republicans on abortion because of the very good chance he’s lying to the other side and will actually appoint pro-Roe justices.

    You’re of course completely right on his general civil rights record. It’s harder to rate American candidates on civil liberties than on abortion, because the gamut on abortion is wide and well-defined whereas this on civil liberties is very narrow and fuzzy, but I’d still give him a very low score, like a 1.

    Pseudonym, it’s not so much an issue of development as one of religious fundamentalism. In countries where the Catholic Church is strong, such as Portugal and Poland and Ireland, abortion is heavily restricted. In countries where it’s weak, such as the rest of the EU, abortion is legal, at least in the early stages of pregnancy. The US doesn’t have a strong Catholic Church, but does have strong fundamentalist churches that promote similar social policies.

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