Michael Steele: Pro-choice after all?

Republican National Chairman Michael Steele ran for the Senate from Maryland in 2006 as an opponent of abortion rights.

Last fall, Steele's role as co-founder of a moderate Republican organization nearly cost him his chance to become chairman. That's because the leader of the group was former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, whose abortion-rights advocacy is anathema to many Republicans.

But Steele maintained that he was solidly opposed to abortion rights and his selection as party chairman was hailed by anti-abortion groups.

“Roe versus Wade was wrongly decided. It should be overturned in my personal view," he told David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network in early December. "We (the Republican Party) value life, born and unborn, and we will fight for that and I will fight for that as an individual and I will fight for that as chairman of the party.”

But now, Steele seems to have revealed what some suspected all along: that he believes women should have a right to choose an abortion.

At least, that's the implication of remarks by Steele in a recent interview with Lisa DePaulo of GQ Magazine.

Here's an excerpt:

How much of your pro-life stance, for you, is informed not just by your Catholic faith but by the fact that you were adopted?

Oh, a lot. Absolutely. I see the power of life in that—I mean, and the power of choice! The thing to keep in mind about it… Uh, you know, I think as a country we get off on these misguided conversations that throw around terms that really misrepresent truth.

Explain that.

The choice issue cuts two ways. You can choose life, or you can choose abortion. You know, my mother chose life. So, you know, I think the power of the argument of choice boils down to stating a case for one or the other.

Are you saying you think women have the right to choose abortion?

Yeah. I mean, again, I think that’s an individual choice.

You do?

Yeah. Absolutely.

Are you saying you don’t want to overturn Roe v. Wade?

I think Roe v. Wade—as a legal matter, Roe v. Wade was a wrongly decided matter.

Okay, but if you overturn Roe v. Wade, how do women have the choice you just said they should have?

The states should make that choice. That’s what the choice is. The individual choice rests in the states. Let them decide.

Do pro-choicers have a place in the Republican Party?


How so?

You know, Lee Atwater said it best: We are a big-tent party. We recognize that there are views that may be divergent on some issues, but our goal is to correspond, or try to respond, to some core values and principles that we can agree on.

Do you think you’re more welcoming to pro-choice people than Democrats are to pro-lifers?

Now that’s a good question. I would say we are. Because the Democrats wouldn’t allow a pro-lifer to speak at their convention. We’ve had many a pro-choicer speak at ours—long before Rudy Giuliani. So yeah, that’s something I’ve been trying to get our party to appreciate. It’s not just in our words but in our actions, we’ve been a party that’s much more embracing. Even when we have missed the boat on, uh, minority issues, the Bush administration did an enormous amount to advance the individual opportunities for minorities in our country. In housing. In education. In health care.

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