How rabidly anti-choice do you have to be to win the presidential nomination in the Republican party these days? Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty felt the need to backtrack his answer on whether anyone should be criminally punished for abortion, after deciding his original answer wasn’t harsh enough.
In an interview that touched on the topics of rural economic development and abortion after an event at the Pizza Ranch in Boone Memorial Day afternoon Pawlenty said he didn’t have a specific penalty in mind for abortion. But Pawlenty, a former state legislative leader and attorney with experience as a prosecutor, offered an initial take on the question.
“I don’t think we want to make it a criminal sanction but I think there should be some kind of penalty or consequence, but we don’t have a specific proposal as to what that would be,” Pawlenty told the Daily Times Herald.
Pawlenty declined to answer a follow-up question about how much, if any, time he has devoted to considering the penalty element of the abortion debate.
Eric Woolson, the veteran Iowa GOP operative who is Pawlenty’s senior adviser and communications consultant, called the Daily Times Herald after the interview to elaborate on Pawlenty’s comments Monday. “As you know, this was the last question in the press scrum and discussion got chopped off.” Woolson said. “To be clear, if Roe v. Wade is overturned, the issue of abortion returns to the states for them to decide the issue and penalties, if any. As to the governor’s views on these matters, he believes that if abortion becomes illegal, abortion providers should be subject to a penalty possibly including a criminal penalty. However, he does not believe women should be penalized.”
Added Woolson, “I apologize for creating the confusion by ending the discussion because we were behind schedule.”
I guess we should at least be grateful the GOP hasn’t quite moved to “jail the woman terminating, too” quite yet.