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.

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