Sunday, May 13, 2007

Giuliani's "Yes, But" on Abortion

On Mother’s Day of all days, abortion is a subject no politician wants to talk about--except Rudy Giuliani, and he is giving Republicans a bad case of pre-primary cramps.

His decision this week to explain his position in terms other than pro-life/pro-choice is inducing his party to rethink the orthodoxy that led all other candidates in their first debate to answer with a flat “no.”

“Ultimately, there has to be a right to choose,” Giuliani told an Alabama audience and followed with what was described as a “rhetorical shrug” over repealing Roe v Wade: “It would be OK to repeal. Or it would be OK also if a strict constructionist judge viewed it as a precedent.”

The Wall Street Journal deplored a possible “intramural abortion brawl,” and the National Review editor called it “a foolish strategic choice.”

But other Republicans, including House Minority leader John Boehner, are not sure that Giuliani’s abortion stance is what Fox News calls a “deal breaker.”

Primary politics aside, Giuliani’s ambivalence reflects public opinion more closely than the ideologues’ certainty. Recent polls show 54 percent of Americans believing abortion should be “always legal” or “usually legal,” with only 22 percent saying they could not vote for a candidate who didn’t agree with their opinion.

The “yes, but” position may be viable after all.

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