Tim Pawlenty First Says No Criminal Sanctions for Abortion Then Clarifies



tim-pawlenty-iowa-capitol-republicanDouglas Burns writing for the Carroll Daily Times Herald reports that former Governor Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) while in Boone said that he believes their shouldn’t be criminal sanctions for mothers who have an abortion or for the doctors who perform them.

Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, an Evangelical Christian who liberally sprinkled his autobiography with biblical verses and describes himself as “pro-life” on abortion, said Monday that he doesn’t think women who have abortions or doctors who perform them should be penalized criminally.

This morning, his staff clarified that position, saying Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, wants to see abortion providers penalized, possibly criminally, but not mothers — should his pro-life view prevail and abortion turn from the generally legal procedure it is today to a prohibited act.

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.

Somebody should have warned Pawlenty about Burns as he nailed now Lt. Governor, then candidate Kim Reynolds with a similar question.  Like I said with Reynolds it appears that while Governor Pawlenty holds a prolife position it doesn’t appear that it is one undergirded by a well-thought out worldview.  I can see not having a specific penalty in mind, but it is troubling that his first attempt at this he said there shouldn’t be a criminal sanction for at least the doctors involved.  There is consensus in the prolife community surrounding that.  If there is an abortion ban don’t you want it to have teeth?  A statement made by his Iowa Communications Director, Eric Woolson, after the fact doesn’t negate the initial answer.  Usually the first answer they give reveals where a candidate really stands on the issue.

Update: Michael Potemra at National Review (thanks for the link) reminds us that we shouldn’t determine a candidate’s prolife bona fides based on a off the cuff answer.  I’m not suggesting he isn’t sincere in his belief, just that he hasn’t thought through potential penalties.  To be fair, there are likely several candidates who would punt on this as well.

Please read our comment policy before leaving a comment.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Shedlock/100000472261599 David Shedlock

    Let us remember Reynolds off-the-cuff answer was the right one.   She asked rhetorically in response to the Burns question, “What is the penalty for murder”.   This was instinctively right.     We won’t get far, though, as long as we intend to give a pass to mothers (and other family members tempted to pay for the crime) and only criminalize.   The only reason to consider lesser penalties for the crime is because of the difficulty it could be to prosecute, not because it is a lesser crime.  Mothers, fathers, friends and grandparents who pay for the “procedure” are participants in murder for hire.

    In some murder for hire cases today, those who do the hiring receive a worse penalty than the hired person because it would never have entered the hired assassin’s mind.  This does not apply to “abortionists”, however, but it does show that we consider the one who who hire guilty of murder.

    • http://caffeinatedthoughts.com Shane Vander Hart

      I do remember, and I did commend Reynolds for that.

  • Pingback: T-Paw’s Faux Pas on Abortion « American Principles in Action

  • http://www.facebook.com/steven.ertelt Steven Ertelt

    Governor
    Pawlenty agrees with the mainstream pro-life position that every major
    organization takes that penalties regarding illegal abortions should be
    imposed on the offending abortion practitioner not on women. That is the
    case, for example, with any state legislation concerning banning
    late-term abortions or the partial-birth abortion ban that received so
    much support and was affirmed in the Supreme Court.One thing
    voters should know is that Pawlenty was the second governor in the
    country to sign a declaration for Abortion Recovery/Awareness Month
    (http://www.lifenews.com/2010/04/12/state-4984/) pointing to the fact
    that millions of women regret their abortions or have been hurt by
    abortions from either medical or mental health standpoints. They are a
    second victim and the proclamation Pawlenty signed recognized polling
    data shows people understand abortions hurt women and that they would
    not recommend one to a friend or family member
    (http://www.lifenews.com/2009/05/25/nat-5082/).While media
    outlets are trying to play “gotcha” with candidates like Pawlenty based
    on what if questions, the record (Tim Pawlenty May Be the Strongest Pro-Life Candidate in 2012 http://bit.ly/fu4XLe ) shows he signed several pro-life bills
    as governor that resulted in reducing the number of abortions in
    Minnesota. That contrasts with the record of President Obama, who has
    repeatedly forced taxpayers to fund abortions and promoted abortions at
    every turn.

    • http://caffeinatedthoughts.com Shane Vander Hart

      Steve, I wasn’t saying he wasn’t prolife.  Playing “gotcha” with “what if” questions isn’t always inappropriate, he was asked a direct question, he said no criminal sanctions.  I’m glad he clarified, and I know most people don’t want criminal sanctions for women involved (though in some cases I believe it would be warranted) so I wasn’t criticizing him about that.  I was concerned that he didn’t believe providers should receive criminal sanctions – I would have preferred to hear that out of his mouth rather than his communications director’s after they realized their mistake.

      Anyway not disputing his prolife record.  The Governor better get used to gotcha questions on a whole litany of issues though.