In October, RH Reality Check developed a questionnaire for the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, designed to help our readers distinguish between the various contenders' positions on sexual and reproductive health and rights — beyond the sole issue of abortion. Our questions were designed to get under the surface of the candidates' rhetoric on reproductive rights and clarify how far each one was willing to go to support concrete policy changes to back up his or her stated beliefs. While no Republican candidate's campaign responded to our questionnaire, in mining through their public statements, we found out the following about their positions on sexual and reproductive health issues.
Concrete information on the Republican candidates' positions and commitments on reproductive health and rights is farther and fewer between, since their websites generally only include information about the issue of abortion. Here's what we were able to come up with.
Sen. John McCain believes that Roe v. Wade should be overturned. Instead, he advocates increasing adoption (but presumably opposes adoption rights for gay and lesbian couples, since he does not recognize non-heterosexual family structures) and creating an environment that would encourage pregnant women to become mothers "by strengthening faith-based, community, and neighborhood organizations that provide critical services to pregnant mothers in need," rather than by passing legislation that would support pregnant and parenting women. He also opposes comprehensive sexuality education. You can read more about John McCain and reproductive health and rights here.
Gov. Mitt Romney, after running for U.S. senator and Massachusetts governor on a pro-choice platform, now describes himself as "pro-life," and believes that abortion laws should be decided on a state-by-state basis. He also supports abstinence education. As Massachusetts governor, he vetoed a bill that would have made emergency contraception over-the-counter prior to the FDA's 2006 decision.
According to Mayor Rudy Giuliani's website, the candidate supports "reasonable restrictions on abortion such as parental notification with a judicial bypass and a ban on partial birth abortion-except when the life of the mother is at stake." As part of his 12 commitments to the American people, Giuliani has vowed to "increase adoptions, reduce abortions, and protect the quality of life for our children," although he has not proposed any specific strategies for pursuing these three goals. Sen. Fred Thompson supports overturning Roe v. Wade. Gov. Mike Huckabee and Rep. Duncan Hunter support constitutional amendments banning abortion. Gov. Huckabee also opposes comprehensive sexuality education. Rep. Hunter also opposes adoption rights for gay and lesbian couples, and has vowed to uphold the Global Gag Rule and to continue withholding U.S. funding for UNFPA if elected president. And Rep. Ron Paul (M.D.) testifies that "In 40 years of medical practice, I never once considered performing an abortion, nor did I ever find abortion necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman."
Want More? We've Got It!
Check out Sen. John Edwards's completed questionnaire.
Check out Sen. Barack Obama's completed questionnaire.
Read the statement from Sen. Chris Dodd's campaign.
What about the Democratic contenders who didn't respond to our questionnaire? We did their homework for them, mining through their previous public statements to find their positions, right here.