Where does Robert F. Kennedy Jr. stand on abortion rights? - TAI News
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Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks to supporters during a campaign event, Saturday, April 13, 2024, in West Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Access to abortion is proving to be a vitally important issue in the 2024 election, but independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. can’t seem to find his way on the topic.

Kennedy has flipped from supporting a federal law protecting abortion access to supporting laws that would limit abortion based on how many weeks pregnant a person is.

In an interview on May 8 with the host of “The Sage Steele Show” podcast, Kennedy said: “I think every abortion is a tragedy. Many of them leave permanent trauma on the woman, but I think ultimately I don’t trust government to have jurisdiction over peoples’ bodies.”

When Steele asked if the states should “determine if and when a woman can have an abortion,” Kennedy said: “I wouldn’t leave it to the states. I believe we should leave it to the woman. We shouldn’t have government involved.” Prompted by Steele, Kennedy agreed, “Even if it’s full-term.”

Two days later, on May 10, the candidate reversed course, posting on the platform X: “Abortion should be legal up until a certain number of weeks, and restricted thereafter. … I support the emerging consensus that abortion should be unrestricted up until a certain point. I believe that point should be when the baby is viable outside the womb. Therefore I would allow appropriate restrictions on abortion in the final months of pregnancy, just as Roe v. Wade did.” 

Only 1% of all abortions in the United States take place after 21 weeks of pregnancy, according to KFF, a nonpartisan health policy research organization. The third trimester begins around 28 weeks into a pregnancy.

A study by the Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health program at the University of California, San Francisco, found that reasons women terminate a pregnancy in the third trimester include a lack of earlier access as well as economic barriers to abortion and newly discovered fetal health issues.

Additionally, since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, five women in Texas sued the state, claiming that because of Texas’ abortion laws, they were denied much-needed medical care, and their lives were put at risk. 

Kennedy’s running mate, Nicole Shanahan, appeared taken off guard during an appearance on Steele’s podcast prior to the release of the Kennedy interview when told by Steele about his comments about abortion.

Asked by the host if she agreed with Kennedy’s statement that access to abortion should be available at any point in a pregnancy, Shanahan said, “My understanding with Bobby’s position is that, you know, every abortion is a tragedy, is a loss of life,” according to NBC News. “My understanding is that he absolutely believes in limits on abortion, and we’ve talked about this. I do not think, I don’t know where that came from.”

In April, Shanahan posted her opinions on abortion on X: “As a mom, and a person with a womb, I don’t like the feeling of anyone having control over my body. It is coercive. It is wrong. But, I am also a woman that would not feel right terminating a viable life living inside of me, especially if I am both healthy and that baby is healthy.”

Kennedy adviser Angela Stanton King, who has a history of support for QAnon conspiracy theories and for Donald Trump, posted on X on May 10 that after Kennedy’s back-and-forth comments, he and his campaign had agreed that so-called “late-term abortion is not something that this campaign is going to support.” 

On May 16, Kennedy appeared on “Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast.” When asked what his position on abortion was, he said that he hadn’t flip-flopped, but that information new to him had changed his mind. 

“My position on abortion was that it should always be a woman’s choice right up to the very end, and my assumption was that any abortion that occurs during that ninth month, in the ninth you’re basically killing a child,” he said. 

“My presumption was that no woman is going to deliberately carry a child for nine months and then two days before it’s born, abort it. Who would do that? It could only be in instances where the mother’s life was at stake. … But then I learned I was wrong, that there are actually a huge amount, comparatively, of elective abortions at that time. And my belief is … at that time you’ve got a wholly formed viable child, that the state has some interest in protecting that baby.”

Dr. Gillian Dean, the chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, said in an interview with the website Parents: “To be clear: There is no such thing as an abortion up until birth, and ‘late-term abortion’ is not a term used by reputable health care providers. … [U]nexpected and potentially life-threatening complications are why it’s critical that patients and doctors have the option of abortion later in pregnancy. Ultimately, the decision to end a pregnancy depends on a person’s unique circumstances, and should be between them and their doctors.”

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