WASHINGTON (Christian Examiner) – Bill Clinton was one of the most pro-choice presidents in history, but if a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and friend of the former president is to be believed, Clinton held pro-life views on late-term abortions.
I believe that if you can't make up your mind in the first six months, you don't have the right to have an abortion.
Clinton allegedly made the comments in 1997 to biographer Taylor Branch, a roommate of his from the 1970s who remains a friend to this day. Branch in '97 was working on a book that eventually became "The Clinton Tapes: Conversations With A President." The publisher said the 1999 book revealed "what President Clinton thought and felt but could not say in public."
After each interview with Clinton, Branch spoke into a tape recorder to summarize what Clinton had told him. But the abortion comments didn't make it into the book.
"He said the pro-choice people have essentially allowed their own insensitivities to push them into a losing political situation and make a statesman out of Rick Santorum, which he rolled his eyes at," Branch said at the time.
Santorum, then a U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, was pushing for passage of a ban on partial-birth abortion, a procedure in which an unborn baby is delivered feet-first so that its head remains in the birth canal. Its skull is then crushed, ensuring a dead delivery.
The audio recordings by Branch were released this month and reported by The Washington Free Beacon.
Pro-choice activists, Branch in 1997 recalled Clinton saying, "framed the question selfishly by putting it in terms of a woman's right to do whatever she wanted" – including a "selfish woman's right to crush her baby's skull."
Third-trimester abortions, Clinton implied, should be illegal.
"I believe that if you can't make up your mind in the first six months, you don't have the right to have an abortion," Clinton said, according to Branch.
But if those were Clinton's views, his actions didn't show it. He twice vetoed bills that would have banned partial-birth abortion, arguing that the bills needed an exception for protecting a woman's health. At the time, supporters of the bills said making an exception for the health of the woman would have made the legislation meaningless, allowing partial-birth abortions to continue.