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Some GOP presidential hopefuls call for tighter federal abortion limits

HealthSome GOP presidential hopefuls call for tighter federal abortion limits

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Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence gestures during the “National Celebrate Life Day Rally” commemorating the first anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Dobbs v Women’s Health Organization case, overturning the landmark Roe v Wade abortion decision, in Washington, U.S., June 24, 2023. 

Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters

Two Republican 2024 presidential hopefuls talked up their opposition to abortion on Sunday on the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson, the decision that overturned Roe v. Wade.

Presidential candidate and former Vice President Mike Pence described last year’s landmark decision as “a historic victory” that condemned Roe v. Wade to “the ash heap of history.”

Pence earlier this week called for all GOP candidates to commit to a nationwide ban on abortion after 15 weeks — but he said on Sunday that it was also important to “stand with compassion.”

“With 62 million unborn lives lost, and just about as many women who have endured the two generations under abortion, I think we need to bring a message of grace, we need to bring a message of kindness,” Pence said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” “That’s how we’re going to win hearts and minds. It’s so much more important than politics to me, but I also think it’s a winning issue.”

Pence said that a national 15-week limit would “align American law with most of the countries in Europe that literally ban abortion after 12 to 15 weeks.”

His call for tighter restrictions come even as a recent national NBC News poll found that 6-in-10 voters remain opposed to the Supreme Court removing the national right to abortion. The poll included nearly 80% of female voters ages 18-49, two-thirds of suburban women, 60% of independents and a third of Republican voters who disapprove, according to NBC News.

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Pence also said that he “strongly supports” Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s effort to hold up military promotions because of Defense Department policies on abortion, including a recent decision to reimburse costs for service members who travel to other states to obtain an abortion.

“We simply cannot have the federal government subsidizing abortion in this country directly or indirectly, and that includes the Pentagon,” Pence said.

Another guest on the Fox program, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), took issue with that comment. “We [Democrats] support Roe v. Wade,” Cardin said. “We thought that was established law. It was an established law for almost 50 years. The Supreme Court decision was a radical decision that reversed the rights of women to make their own health-care decisions.”

That right “shouldn’t be subservient to what state legislatures are doing,” Cardin said. “This is a personal decision made by women with the advice of their doctors and their families. And we don’t think we should try to tell women when they can make those decisions.”

But at least one GOP contender said on Sunday that he isn’t likely to sign on to Pence’s idea. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who announced his bid for president earlier this month, said that while he supports the decision in Dobbs, he will oppose the concept of a federal abortion ban until a “national consensus” develops on the issue.

“Conservatives like me, for the last 50 years, have been arguing that this is not a federal issue. It’s a state issue. It’s something that states should decide. The Dobbs case one year ago gave us the opportunity to let each state make this decision,” he told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.

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“What I hope to see is that with each of the 50 states, but more importantly the people of each of the 50 states deciding this issue, we then could see a national consensus develop,” Christie said.

“If a national consensus develops, I have no problem with the federal government stepping in and confirming that national consensus.”

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