Rubio backs federal 15-week abortion ban even with rape, incest exceptions

Prefers total ban ‘but I recognize that that’s not a majority opinion’

By: - September 14, 2022 5:07 pm

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. Credit: Rubio U.S. Senate website.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is defending his co-sponsorship of Republican legislation to impose a federal ban on abortions after 15 weeks’ gestation with exceptions for rape and incest.

Elizabeth Gregory, Rubio’s campaign communications director, issued a written statement Wednesday to the Phoenix quoting Rubio as arguing that “banning abortion after four months is consistent with Florida law and more permissive than all but two European countries.”

He added: “Why doesn’t the media ask Val Demings why she doesn’t support a single restriction on abortions? She is an extremist that supports abortion, for any reason, at any time up to the moment of birth and paid for by taxpayers.”

Demings is Rubio’s Democratic challenger in the November election. She a former Orlando Police chief who has declared her support for a woman’s right to choose whether to terminate a pregnancy. Her campaign criticized Rubio for supporting the federal ban.

Unlike Florida’s 15-week ban on the medical procedure, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s abortion bill would allow exceptions for rape, incest, or “in cases of risk of death or major injury to the mother.”

Rubio is on record in support of a total ban on abortion from the moment of conception, with no exceptions for rape or incest, but has wiggled somewhat on the issue.

“I do not believe that the dignity and worth of human life is tied to the circumstances of their conception,” he said during an August interview with CBS News Miami.

“But I recognize that that’s not a majority opinion, and therefore I’ve always said I support bills that have exceptions,” Rubio continued.

Meanwhile, a PolitiFact report on Wednesday concluded that his record on exceptions for rape or incest “is not as clear cut.”

PolitiFact wrote: “Though Rubio has stated a preference for banning abortions in all cases other than to save the life of the mother, PolitiFact found two examples of Rubio supporting legislation that did include exceptions for rape or incest.”

Another PolitiFact report, this one published in 2016, while he was seeking the Republican presidential nomination, described a debate in which a Fox News anchor challenged Rubio about his position in favor of such exceptions, which he refuted.

“I have never said that. And I have never advocated that,” Rubio said at the time. “What I have advocated is that we pass law in this country that says all human life at every stage of its development is worthy of protection. In fact, I think that law already exists. It is called the Constitution of the United States.”

The other co-sponsor of South Carolina Sen. Graham’s proposal is Sen. Steve Daines of Montana.

GOP reluctance

As previously reported by the Florida Phoenix, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, reflecting concern that the abortion issue could drive Democratic turnout in November in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, said that laws on abortion bans should be left to the states.

Demings communications Director Christian Slater said in a written statement Wednesday:

“Marco Rubio has never been shy about his support for extremist abortion bans and criminalizing doctors, and cosponsoring this federal ban is just another step in his fight to take away women’s freedom.

“As a 27-year law enforcement officer who investigated cases of rape and incest, Chief Demings is committed to protecting Florida’s women and girls. Floridians will hold Rubio accountable for his out of touch stance in November.”

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Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan

Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.

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