RFK Jr. Says He'd Sign Federal Abortion Ban, Then Does 180

2024 presidential candidate later says he misunderstood question
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 14, 2023 2:00 AM CDT
RFK Jr. Says He'd Sign Federal Abortion Ban, Then Does 180
Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., speaks during The Des Moines Register Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023, in Des Moines, Iowa.   (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said he'd sign a federal abortion ban if he wins the 2024 presidential election, then quickly did a 180. The Democratic presidential candidate was asked by a NBC News reporter while visiting the Iowa State Fair Sunday whether he would sign "federal protection" for the abortion rights that women used to have under Roe v. Wade, and responded, "I believe a decision to abort a child should be up to the women during the first three months of life." The reporter then asked if that meant he would "cap it" at 15 or 21 weeks, to which he responded, "Yes, three months." Asked again if he would sign a "federal cap on that" rather than "unlimited access to abortion," he said, "Yes, I would," before explaining further.

"Once a child is viable, outside the womb, I think then the state has an interest in protecting the child," he continued, later adding "I'm for medical freedom. I think individuals ought to be able to make their own choices." The reporter then commented that because of his stance on medical freedom, she was "surprised" to hear he'd put a cap on abortion rights, to which he stumbled a bit while saying, among other things, "I would personally not" but that a state's rights increase at viability, and that "very, very few" abortions take place after the 3-month mark anyway. Hours later, a Kennedy spokesperson issued a statement to NBC walking back the entire conversation.

"Mr. Kennedy misunderstood a question posed to him by an NBC reporter in a crowded, noisy exhibit hall at the Iowa State Fair," said the rep, adding that Kennedy "does not support legislation banning abortion" and believes a woman "always" has the right to choose. Politico notes that RFK Jr. is "a longtime advocate of what he calls 'medical freedom,'" in particular, his well-known anti-vaccination views. NBC notes Kennedy espoused "multiple typically conservative talking points" during the state fair interview, including saying that he would not have voted to support the Inflation Reduction Act. He also said that while he believes President Trump lost the 2020 presidential election, he also believes "elections can get stolen in this country." (More Robert F. Kennedy Jr. stories.)

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