Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has sought to distance himself from a controversial statement that he supports “individual choice” on abortion, insisting that he remains pro-life.
In an interview with GQ magazine, Steele — who is Catholic and was adopted — was asked about his views on abortion.
“The choice issue cuts two ways. You can choose life, or you can choose abortion,” he said. “My mother chose life. So I think the power of the argument of choice boils down to stating a case for one or the other.”
Interviewer Lisa DePaulo asked: “Are you saying you think women have the right to choose abortion?”
Steele replied: “Yeah. I mean, again, I think that’s an individual choice.”
DePaulo: “You do?”
Steele: “Yeah. Absolutely.”
DePaulo: “Are you saying you don’t want to overturn Roe v. Wade?”
Steele: “I think Roe v. Wade — as a legal matter, Roe v. Wade was a wrongly decided matter.”
DePaulo: “Okay, but if you overturn Roe v. Wade, how do women have the choice you just said they should have?”
Steele: “The states should make that choice. That’s what the choice is. The individual choice rests in the states. Let them decide.”
His remarks created an immediate furor in the pro-life community after the interview was posted on Wednesday night. Charmaine Yoest, the president and CEO of Americans United for Life Action, was among his critics, Politico reported. She stated:
"I think it is very troubling for a public figure, of either party, particularly one who presents himself as pro-life, to describe the abortion issue as being a matter of 'individual choice.' That is language straight out of Planned Parenthood's messaging playbook."
On Thursday Steels said in a statement through an RNC spokesman:
“I am pro-life, always have been, always will be.
“I tried to present why I am pro-life while recognizing that my mother had a ‘choice’ before deciding to put me up for adoption. I thank her every day for supporting life. The strength of the pro-life movement lies in choosing life and sharing the wisdom of that choice with those who face difficult circumstances. They did that for my mother and I am here today because they did.
“In my view Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and should be repealed. I realize that there are good people in our party who disagree with me on this issue.
“But the Republican Party is and will continue to be the party of life. I support our platform and its call for a Human Life Amendment.”
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said Steele had assured him earlier this week that he would promote the GOP’s pro-life platform, but declared: “It is very difficult to reconcile the GQ interview with the chairman’s pledge.”
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