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Joseph Lieberman on Abortion

Democratic Jr Senator (CT), ran for V.P. with Gore, ran for president 2004


Day 1: Repeal the Bush restrictions on stem cell research

Q: After the inauguration, what would be your first action as president?

A: Not long ago, I met a man whose son has Canavan's disease. He told me that stem cell research carried the promise of a cure -- but that the Bush administration was blocking that research from happening. These restrictions aren't compassionate. They're not fair. They're cruel. On the first day I enter the Oval Office, I will repeal the Bush restrictions on stem cell research.

Source: Associated Press policy Q&A, "DAY 1" Jan 25, 2004

Keep abortion safe, rare and legal; with 24-week viability

A published article said Lieberman believes abortion laws should be re-examined because medical advancements have lengthened the window of when a fetus is viable. According to Roe v. Wade, a woman's right to have an abortion is protected in the period before a fetus is viable. After that, states may impose limits or even ban abortions.

But Lieberman denied he ever said the decision should be reconsidered. "I did not say nor do I believe that Roe should be looked at again, revisited or reconsidered," Lieberman said. "Medical science has advanced the time of fetal viability to approximately 24 weeks. In response, the courts have determined that the viability standard has replaced the original trimester formulation of Roe. That lengthens the time of a woman's clearly protected right to choose from the first trimester to 24 weeks," Lieberman said. Lieberman told the paper he thinks about the issue a lot and if elected president he would "follow a policy that makes abortion safe, rare and legal."

Source: CNN.com Dec 26, 2003

FDA’s RU-486 decision stands; it’s made properly by experts

Q: Would you support restricting distribution of the abortion drug, RU-486?

CHENEY: The approval of RU-486 by the FDA really was a question of whether or not it was safe to be used by women. They didn’t address the question of whether or not there should or should not be abortion in the society, so much as evaluate that particular drug. With respect to the RU-486 proposal [currently before Congress], Governor Bush does not anticipate directing the FDA to reverse course on that particular issue, primarily because the decision they made was [solely] on the efficacy of the drug.

LIEBERMAN: My answer is no, I would not support legislation that is being introduced in Congress to override the FDA decision on RU-486. The FDA worked 12 years on this serious problem, they made a judgment based on what was good for women’s health; a doctor has to prescribe and care for a woman using it. I think it’s a decision that we ought to let stand because it was made by experts.

Source: (X-ref Cheney) Vice-presidential debate Oct 5, 2000

Leave abortion decision to a woman, her doctor, and her god

But let me say, more generally, that the significant difference here on this issue is that Al Gore and I respect and will protect a woman’s right to choose and our opponents will not. We know that this is a difficult, personal, moral, medical issue. But that is exactly why it ought to be left, under our law, to a woman, her doctor and her god.

Al Gore and I believe that the government ought to do everything it can to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, and therefore the number of abortions. And here there is good news to report. The number of abortions is actually down in America over the last eight years. In fact, over the last eight years the number of teenage pregnancies has dropped 20 percent. And the reason it has is that there are good programs out there that Al Gore and I will continue to support, such as family planning and programs that encourage abstinence.

Source: Vice-presidential debate Oct 5, 2000

Rejected partial-birth ban since it ignored maternal health

When the health of a woman is involved, I think the government has to be respectful. I supported, in fact, a bill in the Senate that would have prohibited late-term abortions, except in cases where the health or life of the mother was involved. I did not support the so-called partial-birth abortion bill because it would have prohibited abortion--that form of abortion at any state of the pregnancy, regardless of the effect on the health and life of the woman, and that’s unacceptable.
Source: Vice-presidential debate Oct 5, 2000

Supports abortion rights within his faith, not despite it

Many religious opponents of abortion believe Lieberman is a hypocrite for advocating faith while supporting abortion rights. One pro-life leader said, “His voting record on abortion is in direct contradiction to the teaching of his faith. Where is his faith when it comes to the unborn?” Lieberman has said that Orthodox Judaism considers abortion to be a personal matter, although many Orthodox Jews disagree.
Source: David Firestone, NY Times, p. WK-5 Sep 3, 2000

Parental consent with judicial override; Gore agrees

Gore & Lieberman have some differences on abortion, always a thorny campaign issue. Lieberman said yesterday that he favors a law requiring parental consent for minors seeking abortions. His spokesman said Lieberman would insist on a judicial bypass provision, under which a judge could allow the abortion over the parent’s objections.

Gore, however, is opposed to parental consent laws. He told reporters yesterday that he could, however, back a parental notification law that allowed a doctor or judge to offer a waiver of the notification in some cases. But a Gore spokesman said Gore generally opposes even parental notification laws because they are a ‘’back-door’’ threat to abortion rights. Campaign aides, noting that Lieberman has a 99% ranking from NARAL, said both Gore and his running mate are adamantly in favor of a right to abortion.

Source: Susan Milligan, Boston Globe, p. A1 Aug 10, 2000

Supported parental notification for minors; but pro-choice

[The RNC] released a letter that it said Lieberman wrote in 1989, including this statement: “I also support a requirement that parents of a minor be notified before an abortion is performed.” But [an abortion rights spokesperson said] that whatever Lieberman may have thought then, what mattered was that on two subsequent occasions he voted in the Senate against parental notification measures involving abortion.
Source: Adam Clymer, NY Times, p. A21 Aug 8, 2000

Voted NO on criminal penalty for harming unborn fetus during other crime.

Bill would make it a criminal offense to harm or kill a fetus during the commission of a violent crime. The measure would set criminal penalties, the same as those that would apply if harm or death happened to the pregnant woman, for those who harm a fetus. It is not required that the individual have prior knowledge of the pregnancy or intent to harm the fetus. This bill prohibits the death penalty from being imposed for such an offense. The bill states that its provisions should not be interpreted to apply a woman's actions with respect to her pregnancy.
Reference: Unborn Victims of Violence Act; Bill S.1019/HR.1997 ; vote number 2004-63 on Mar 25, 2004

Voted NO on banning partial birth abortions except for maternal life.

S. 3 As Amended; Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. Vote to pass a bill banning a medical procedure, which is commonly known as "partial-birth" abortion. Those who performed this procedure would then face fines and up to two years in prison, the women to whom this procedure is performed on are not held criminally liable. This bill would make the exception for cases in which a women's life is in danger, not for cases where a women's health is in danger.
Bill S.3 ; vote number 2003-51 on Mar 12, 2003

Voted NO on maintaining ban on Military Base Abortions.

Vote on a motion to table [kill] an amendment that would repeal the ban on privately funded abortions at overseas military facilities.
Bill S 2549 ; vote number 2000-134 on Jun 20, 2000

Voted NO on banning partial birth abortions.

This legislation, if enacted, would ban the abortion procedure in which the physician partially delivers the fetus before completing the abortion. [A NO vote supports abortion rights].
Status: Bill Passed Y)63; N)34; NV)3
Reference: Partial Birth Abortion Ban; Bill S. 1692 ; vote number 1999-340 on Oct 21, 1999

Voted NO on disallowing overseas military abortions.

The Murray amdt would have repealed current laws prohibiting overseas U.S. military hospitals and medical facilities from performing privately funded abortions for U.S. service members and their dependents.
Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)51; N)49
Reference: Motion to table Murray Amdt #397; Bill S. 1059 ; vote number 1999-148 on May 26, 1999

Rated 100% by NARAL, indicating a pro-choice voting record.

Lieberman scores 100% by NARAL on pro-choice voting record

For over thirty years, NARAL Pro-Choice America has been the political arm of the pro-choice movement and a strong advocate of reproductive freedom and choice. NARAL Pro-Choice America's mission is to protect and preserve the right to choose while promoting policies and programs that improve women's health and make abortion less necessary. NARAL Pro-Choice America works to educate Americans and officeholders about reproductive rights and health issues and elect pro-choice candidates at all levels of government. The NARAL ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.

Source: NARAL website 03n-NARAL on Dec 31, 2003

Expand embryonic stem cell research.

Lieberman signed a letter from 58 Senators to the President

Dear Mr. President:

We write to urge you to expand the current federal policy concerning embryonic stem cell research.

Embryonic stem cells have the potential to be used to treat and better understand deadly and disabling diseases and conditions that affect more than 100 million Americans, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, and many others.

We appreciate your words of support for the enormous potential of this research, and we know that you intended your policy to help promote this research to its fullest. As you know, the Administration's policy limits federal funding only to embryonic stem cells that were derived by August 9, 2001.

However, scientists have told us that since the policy went into effect more than two years ago, we have learned that the embryonic stem cell lines eligible for federal funding will not be suitable to effectively promote this research. We therefore feel it is essential to relax the restrictions in the current policy for this research to be fully explored.

Among the difficult challenges with the current policy are the following:

We would very much like to work with you to modify the current embryonic stem cell policy so that it provides this area of research the greatest opportunity to lead to the treatments and cures for which we are all hoping.
Source: Letter from 58 Senators to the President 04-SEN8 on Jun 4, 2004

Other candidates on Abortion: Joseph Lieberman on other issues:
George W. Bush
Dick Cheney
John Edwards
John Kerry

Third Party Candidates:
Michael Baradnik
Peter Camejo
David Cobb
Ralph Nader
Michael Peroutka

Democratic Primaries:
Carol Moseley Braun
Wesley Clark
Howard Dean
Dick Gephardt
Bob Graham
Dennis Kucinich
Joe Lieberman
Al Sharpton
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Adv: Avi Green for State Rep Middlesex 26, Somerville & Cambridge Massachusetts