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Pawlenty: No criminal penalty for abortion
When asked by a reporter at an Iowa stop what the penalty should be for women who have abortions and doctors who perform abortions if his stance on overturning legal abortion prevails, Tim Pawlenty initially said there shouldn’t be a criminal sanction. It was a statement that his spokesman quickly clarified after the appearance.
Pawlenty, a former governor of Minnesota, is credited with being the second state executive to proclaim an Abortion Recovery and Awareness month, and has been quite clear during other Iowa appearances that his belief is that the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade should be overturned, effectively banning all access to legal abortion services in the country. Yet when asked by Carroll Daily Times Herald reporter Douglas Burns what the penalty should be for doctors or women engaging in abortion, Pawlenty said there isn’t “a specific penalty that we have proposed for that” and while he believes there should be “consequences,” he isn’t willing to call for “criminal sanctions.”
“I don’t think we want to make it a criminal sanction but I think there should be some kind of penalty or consequence, but we don’t have a specific proposal as to what that would be,” Pawlenty told the Daily Times Herald.
Although Burns attempts a follow-up question to determine if the scenario is one that Pawlenty has previously considered, a campaign staff member signals that Burns’ one question has been used and the interview comes to a close.
Listen to the exchange:
Eric Woolson, Iowa spokesman for the campaign, later phoned the Daily Times Herald to clarify Pawlenty’s statement:
… “As you know, this was the last question in the press scrum and discussion got chopped off.” Woolson said. “To be clear, if Roe v. Wade is overturned, the issue of abortion returns to the states for them to decide the issue and penalties, if any. As to the governor’s views on these matters, he believes that if abortion becomes illegal, abortion providers should be subject to a penalty possibly including a criminal penalty. However, he does not believe women should be penalized.”
Added Woolson, “I apologize for creating the confusion by ending the discussion because we were behind schedule.” …
When asked about the initial statement, Maggie DeWitte, executive director of Iowans for Life, an anti-abortion group, noted her perception that Pawlenty was positive on the issue, but added “it does give me pause.”
It is hardly the first time that Burns has asked a politician espousing an anti-abortion stance what the penalty should be if their beliefs become a reality. During the lead-up to the 2010 general election, then lieutenant governor candidate Kim Reynolds created a firestorm in conservative circles for her comments during an interview with Burns. Although much of the controversy following the interview focused on Reynolds’ apparent approval of civil unions for same-sex couples, Reynolds also addressed the question of possible penalties for those providing or accessing abortion services.
… Reynolds was asked to elaborate on those positions and, if her stance on abortion prevails and it is criminalized again, what the penalty should be for a physician who performs an abortion or a woman who has one.
“Well, I think it would be equivalent to murder,” Reynolds said. “I would want to research that before I would lay specifically out what the penalties would be.”
Reynolds said she does not consider a doctor performing an abortion as being guilty of the same crime as someone stabbing someone to death, but would not clarify on the actual difference between the two acts.
“I would want to take a look at that and make sure that I completely walked through that before I would say anything right now,” Reynolds said. “I’m not going to give an answer to that right now without thoroughly looking through that and making sure that I’m looking at both sides.”
Should the doctors and women involved in the abortion get a ticket, a fine, or should they be executed?
“I think that we would take a look and make sure that the punishment met the crime,” Reynolds said. “It would depend on the level of crime that was served. I would want to be sure to take a look at that before I gave an off-handed comment to that issue.” …