Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Walks Back Comments on Federal Abortion Ban
The Controversial Stance and Subsequent Clarification
Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. walked back comments endorsing a federal abortion ban, a longtime Republican goal virtually no other Democratic politician has embraced.
In an interview with NBC News at the Iowa State Fair over the weekend, Kennedy repeatedly said “yes” when asked if he would sign a federal ban on abortion after 15 weeks or 21 weeks of pregnancy if he were elected president.
“I believe a decision to abort a child should be up to the women during the first three months of life,” Kennedy said. “Once a child is viable, outside the womb, I think then the state has an interest in protecting the child.”
“I’m for medical freedom. Individuals are able to make their own choices,” Kennedy continued, before adding that “at some point” states “have a right to protect a child once a child becomes viable.”
But in an unsigned statement issued by his campaign hours later on Sunday, Kennedy’s team said he misunderstood the question “in a crowded, noisy exhibit hall” at the event, which drew nearly every GOP presidential candidate over the weekend.
“Mr. Kennedy’s position on abortion is that it is always the woman’s right to choose. He does not support legislation banning abortion,” the statement said.
NBC’s Ali Vitali, the reporter who asked him the question, posted the transcript of her interview with the candidate online. “Here’s the full exchange with Kennedy, in which I ask the questions multiple times to make sure we’re understanding- even at one point saying I was surprised by the stance.”
Kennedy’s Background and Political Standings
Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks during The Des Moines Register Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 12 in Des Moines. Kennedy called himself “pro-choice” at a campaign stop in June. “I’m not going be in a position, put myself in a position, where I am going to tell a woman to bring a child to term,” he said at the time.
The son of former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of former President John F. Kennedy announced his long-shot bid challenging President Joe Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination in April.
The prominent anti-vaxxer has been embraced by the right for his endorsement of numerous conspiracy theories, drawing praise from prominent Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, and condemnations from Democrats and his own family members.
Although Kennedy is running for president as a Democrat, his poll numbers suggest he’d be far better positioned in the GOP primary. Several polls in recent weeks found his favorability ratings surging with Republicans and tanking with Democrats.