Senator McCain expresses belief that Roe v. Wade should be overturned

Republican presidential hopeful Senator John McCain created waves this past weekend with a statement he made to a South Carolina crowd of about 800 that he believes Roe v. Wade should be overturned. Via AP:

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Republican presidential candidate John McCain (news, bio, voting record), looking to improve his standing with the party’s conservative voters, said Sunday the court decision that legalized abortion should be overturned.

“I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned,” the Arizona senator told about 800 people in South Carolina, one of the early voting states.

McCain also vowed that if elected, he would appoint judges who “strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States and do not legislate from the bench.”

The Right’s Field characterizes McCain’s stance as a ‘flip-flop’, and provides a quote from him back in 1999 on the same issue. The quote:

“I’d love to see a point where it is irrelevant, and could be repealed because abortion is no longer necessary,” McCain told the Chronicle in an article published Friday. “But certainly in the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade, which would then force X number of women in America to [undergo] illegal and dangerous operations.”

What they didn’t quote was what was written immediately above that:

Aides to McCain said perhaps he could have been clearer in comments he made to the San Francisco Chronicle and CNN, but that he had not wavered from his long-term opposition to abortion or his belief that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, should be repealed.

And below it:

On Sunday, on CNN’s “Late Edition,” McCain reiterated that he would not have an abortion “litmus” test for a running mate or Supreme Court nominees. He added that while he ultimately favors repeal of Roe, “we all know, and it’s obvious, that if we repeal Roe v. Wade tomorrow, thousands of young American women would be performing illegal and dangerous operations.”

Read in context, I don’t view McCain’s position as a ‘flip flop’. In fact, his position virtually mirrors mine. I’ve long been an opponent of abortion, and felt Roe v. Wade should be overturned, but not right now. I think the pro-life movement is up for the challenge on changing hearts and minds on the issue of abortion, but we have a lot of work ahead of us in trying to do that. I’ve long thought that the best way in the short term to stem the tide of abortions as well as to get pro-abortionists to reconsider the issue is not by repealing the law, but continuing to spread the message that when a child is conceived, that it is a life. Sometimes when you try to force someone into reconsidering what they believe, it only makes them believe in the issue stronger out of a sense of rebellion. I was this way on the issue of abortion back when I was ok with women having them. The more people tried to tell me how wrong it was – in no uncertain terms – the more I rejected what they had to say. It took someone with patience and understanding to help convince me that it was wrong, and because of my experience as well as similar experiences I’ve heard from other women, I believe this is the best route – in the short term.

As far as having Roe v. Wade overturned, McCain’s only input into that as a president would, obviously, be to nominate a strict constructionist to the USSC, should the opportunity present itself, because, of course the US Congress and the President can’t overturn court rulings.

McCain has turned a lot of conservatives against him over the years because of his stance on issues like campaign finance reform, but on the issue of abortion, I think he’s been pretty consistent and don’t really view this as a ‘run ot the right’, as Captain Ed describes it, although to be sure, McCain is indeed attempting to shore up his conservative bonafides among the base, especially with videos like this one:

Joe Gandelman also incorrectly classifies McCain’s position on Roe v. Wade as “making a break” – break from what, exactly? A position he’s always had? My liberal friend Michael J.W. Stickings thinks stances like being in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade equate to McCain taking ‘extremist positions.’ Wha? I guess that would make me an ‘extremist’, eh, Michael?

I think a more obvious case of ‘running to the right’ would be Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney. I think Romney’s a likeable guy, but has done a 180 on too many issues for my comfort, like abortion, for example, gay marriage is another. He changed his stance on abortion 2 years ago, which I find a little too convienient. That’s not to say that people’s beliefs about abortion can’t change over time – I’m living proof that they can – but just a couple of years before the presidential campaign season kicks into gear? Color me suspicious.

Related re: McCain: Is the Senator running a more somber campaign in contrast to the upbeat one he ran in 2000? Johnathan Martin at The Politico takes a closer look.

Read more via: James Joyner, Paul at Powerline

PM Update: Allah’s got links to another attempt at the media painting Senator McCain as a flip flopper, this time on his opinion of Donald Rumsfeld. As Mr. A. Pundit points out, his opinion on Rumsfeld isn’t a flip flop. Sheesh! You know you’re no longer a media darling when they start distorting your positions …

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