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Dennis Kucinich on Abortion

Democratic Representative (OH-10)


Litmus test on Roe, but as part of a culture of life

Q: As president would you have a specific litmus test question on Roe v. Wade that you would ask of your nominees for the high court?

A: Any of my appointments to the high court would necessarily reflect my thinking. I don’t know how it could be otherwise. I intend to be a president who’s a healer, who understands that this country has been put in a debate that has torn it apart. But the truth of the matter is, it’s possible to take a course of action where you can get all the people of America in support of a culture of life which includes prenatal care, postnatal care, child care, universal health care, a living wage, all those things that give support to life. And we also need to listen carefully to those who are concerned about abortion. At the same time, a healer as president would help reconcile this nation, and cause a woman’s right to privacy to be protected unquestioningly, protect Roe v. Wade, but also go out and listen to people and engage people and open up hearts.

Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC Apr 26, 2007

Women’s right-to-choose is essential to gender equality

A woman’s right-to-choose must be protected as essential to personal privacy and gender equality. Only those who agree to uphold Roe v. Wade should be nominated for the Supreme Court. I have a plan to reduce abortions by encouraging family planning, including abstinence training, combined with a full economic and health care plan that would clearly alleviate the number of abortions. Voters have a choice for a real plan to reduce the number of abortions with a program of economic justice.
Source: 2006 Congressional campaign website, www.kucinich.us Nov 7, 2006

Abortions should always be legal

Source: 2004 Presidential National Political Awareness Test Jan 8, 2004

Shifted to pro-choice when women’s health became at risk

Q: You started pro-life. Can you elaborate on what that was that made you change your mind?

A: I’ve always worked to make abortions less necessary, through sex education and birth control. But the direction that Congress has taken, increasingly, is to make it impossible for women to be able to have an abortion if they need to protect their health. So when I saw the direction taken, it finally came to the point where I understood that women will not be truly free unless they have the right to choose

Source: Democratic 2004 Primary Presidential Debate in Durham NH Dec 9, 2003

All men & women have right to make difficult moral decisions

In our society, all women and all men have a right to make difficult moral decisions and make personal choices. I want to work to make sure that, when life is brought forward, we have prenatal care and postnatal care and childcare and universal health care and a living wage.
Source: Campaign website, www.Kucinich.us, “On The Issues” Aug 1, 2003

Supreme Court nominees must agree to uphold Roe v. Wade

I support Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose, and will select Supreme Court justices who affirm this Constitutional right. Because I know that the right to choose is under attack -- as President, I will only support someone for the Supreme Court if he or she agrees to uphold Roe v. Wade.
Source: Campaign website, www.Kucinich.org, “On The Issues” Apr 1, 2003

Women can’t be free unless they have the right to choose

I have come to believe that it’s not simply about the right to choose, but about a woman’s role in society as being free and having agency and having the ability to make her own decisions. That a woman can’t be free unless she has this right.
Source: Campaign website, www.Kucinich.org, “On The Issues” Apr 1, 2003

Prevention, education, & health care, to minimize abortions

I want to work to make abortions less necessary, which means sex education and birth control. I want to work to make sure that, when life is brought forward, we have prenatal care and postnatal care and childcare and universal health care and a living wage.
Source: Campaign website, www.Kucinich.org, “On The Issues” Apr 1, 2003

Life begins at conception

I believe life begins at conception and that our priority should be to make abortions obsolete, by preventing unwanted pregnancy, promoting abstinence, and promote life affirming programs after birth
Source: 1996 Congressional National Political Awareness Test Jul 2, 1996


Dennis Kucinich on Voting Record

Journey in 2002 from pro-life to pro-choice

I’ve had a journey on the issue [of reproductive rights]. A year ago, before I became a candidate for President, I broke from a voting record that had not been pro-choice. After hearing from many women in my own life, and from women and men in my community and across the country, I began a more intensive dialogue on the issue. A lot of women opened their hearts to me. That dialogue led me to wholeheartedly support a woman’s right to choose.
Source: Campaign website, www.Kucinich.org, “On The Issues” Apr 1, 2003

Voted YES on expanding research to more embryonic stem cell lines.

Allows federal funding for research that utilizes human embryonic stem cells, regardless of the date on which the stem cells were derived from a human embryo, provided such embryos:
  1. have been donated from in vitro fertilization clinics;
  2. were created for the purposes of fertility treatment;
  3. were in excess of the needs of the individuals seeking such treatment and would otherwise be discarded; and
  4. were donated by such individuals with written informed consent and without any financial or other inducements.

Proponents support voting YES because:

Since 2 years ago, the last Stem Cell bill, public support has surged for stem cells. Research is proceeding unfettered and, in some cases, without ethical standards in other countries. And even when these countries have ethical standards, our failures are allowing them to gain the scientific edge over the US. Some suggest that it is Congress' role to tell researchers what kinds of cells to use. I suggest we are not the arbiters of research. Instead, we should foster all of these methods, and we should adequately fund and have ethical oversight over all ethical stem cell research.

Opponents support voting NO because:

A good deal has changed in the world of science. Amniotic fluid stem cells are now available to open a broad new area of research. I think the American people would welcome us having a hearing to understand more about this promising new area of science. As it stands today, we will simply have to debate the bill on the merits of information that is well over 2 years old, and I think that is unfortunate.

The recent findings of the pluripotent epithelial cells demonstrates how quickly the world has changed. Wouldn't it be nice to have the researcher before our committee and be able to ask those questions so we may make the best possible judgment for the American people?

Reference: Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act; Bill HR 3 ("First 100 hours") ; vote number 2007-020 on Jan 11, 2007

Voted YES on allowing human embryonic stem cell research.

To provide for human embryonic stem cell research. A YES vote would:
Reference: Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act; Bill HR 810 ; vote number 2005-204 on May 24, 2005

Voted NO on restricting interstate transport of minors to get abortions.

To prevent the transportation of minors in circumvention of certain laws relating to abortion, and for other purposes, including:
Reference: Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act; Bill HR 748 ; vote number 2005-144 on Apr 27, 2005

Voted NO on banning partial-birth abortion except to save mother’s life.

Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003: Vote to pass a bill banning a medical procedure, which is commonly known as "partial-birth" abortion. The procedure would be allowed only in cases in which a women's life is in danger, not for cases where a women's health is in danger. Those who performed this procedure, would face fines and up to two years in prison, the women to whom this procedure is performed on are not held criminally liable.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Santorum, R-PA; Bill S.3 ; vote number 2003-530 on Oct 2, 2003

Voted YES on forbidding human cloning for reproduction & medical research.

Vote to pass a bill that would forbid human cloning and punish violators with up to 10 years in prison and fines of at least $1 million. The bill would ban human cloning, and any attempts at human cloning, for both reproductive purposes and medical research. Also forbidden is the importing of cloned embryos or products made from them.
Reference: Human Cloning Prohibition Act; Bill HR 534 ; vote number 2003-39 on Feb 27, 2003

Voted YES on banning Family Planning funding in US aid abroad.

Vote to adopt an amendment that would remove language reversing President Bush's restrictions on funding to family planning groups that provide abortion services, counseling or advocacy.
Reference: Amendment sponsored by Hyde, R-IL; Bill HR 1646 ; vote number 2001-115 on May 16, 2001

Voted YES on federal crime to harm fetus while committing other crimes.

Vote to pass a bill that would make it a federal crime to harm a fetus while committing any of 68 federal offenses or a crime under military law. Abortion doctors and women whose own actions harmed their fetuses would be exempt.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Graham, R-SC; Bill HR 503 ; vote number 2001-89 on Apr 26, 2001

Voted YES on banning partial-birth abortions.

HR 3660 would ban doctors from performing the abortion procedure called "dilation and extraction" [also known as “partial-birth” abortion]. The measure would allow the procedure only if the life of the woman is at risk.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Canady, R-FL; Bill HR 3660 ; vote number 2000-104 on Apr 5, 2000

Voted YES on barring transporting minors to get an abortion.

The Child Custody Protection Act makes it a federal crime to transport a minor across state lines for the purpose of obtaining an abortion.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL; Bill HR 1218 ; vote number 1999-261 on Jun 30, 1999

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

Kucinich 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

Emergency contraception for rape victims at all hospitals.

Kucinich co-sponsored for emergency contraception for rape victims

OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: Prohibits any federal funds from being provided to a hospital unless the hospital provides to women who are victims of sexual assault:

  1. accurate and unbiased information about emergency contraception;
  2. emergency contraception on her request; and
  3. does not deny any such services because of the inability of the woman to pay.

SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. CLINTON: This bill will help sexual assault survivors across the country get the medical care they need and deserve. It is hard to argue against this commonsense legislation. Rape--by definition--could never result in an intended pregnancy. Emergency contraception is a valuable tool that can prevent unintended pregnancy. This bill makes emergency contraception available for survivors of sexual assault at any hospital receiving public funds.

Every 2 minutes, a woman is sexually assaulted in the US, and each year, 25,000 to 32,000 women become pregnant as a result of rape or incest. 50% of those pregnancies end in abortion.

By providing access to emergency contraception, up to 95% of those unintended pregnancies could be prevented if emergency contraception is administered within the first 24 to 72 hours. In addition, emergency contraception could also give desperately needed peace of mind to women in crisis.

The FDA recently made EC available over the counter for women 18 years of age and older. Despite the ideologically driven agenda against this drug, the research has been consistently clear--this drug is safe and effective for preventing pregnancy. Women deserve access to EC. For millions of women, it represents peace of mind. For survivors of rape and sexual assault, it offers hope for healing and a tomorrow free of painful reminders of the past.

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; never came to a vote.

Source: Compassionate Assistance for Rape Emergencies Act (S.3945) 06-S3945 on Sep 26, 2006

Rated 0% by the NRLC, indicating a pro-choice stance.

Kucinich scores 0% by the NRLC on abortion issues

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2006 NRLC scores as follows:

About the NRLC (from their website, www.nrlc.org):

The ultimate goal of the National Right to Life Committee is to restore legal protection to innocent human life. The primary interest of the National Right to Life Committee and its members has been the abortion controversy; however, it is also concerned with related matters of medical ethics which relate to the right to life issues of euthanasia and infanticide. The Committee does not have a position on issues such as contraception, sex education, capital punishment, and national defense. The National Right to Life Committee was founded in 1973 in response to the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision, legalizing the practice of human abortion in all 50 states, throughout the entire nine months of pregnancy.

The NRLC has been instrumental in achieving a number of legislative reforms at the national level, including a ban on non-therapeutic experimentation of unborn and newborn babies, a federal conscience clause guaranteeing medical personnel the right to refuse to participate in abortion procedures, and various amendments to appropriations bills which prohibit (or limit) the use of federal funds to subsidize or promote abortions in the United States and overseas.

In addition to maintaining a lobbying presence at the federal level, NRLC serves as a clearinghouse of information for its state affiliates and local chapters, its individual members, the press, and the public.

Source: NRLC website 06n-NRLC on Dec 31, 2006

Ensure access to and funding for contraception.

Kucinich co-sponsored ensuring access to and funding for contraception

A bill to expand access to preventive health care services that help reduce unintended pregnancy, reduce abortions, and improve access to women's health care. The Congress finds as follows:

  1. Healthy People 2010 sets forth a reduction of unintended pregnancies as an important health objective to achieve over the first decade of the new century.
  2. Although the CDC included family planning in its published list of the Ten Great Public Health Achievements in the 20th Century, the US still has one of the highest rates of unintended pregnancies among industrialized nations.
  3. Each year, 3,000,000 pregnancies, nearly half of all pregnancies, in the US are unintended, and nearly half of unintended pregnancies end in abortion.
  4. In 2004, 34,400,000 women, half of all women of reproductive age, were in need of contraceptive services, and nearly half of those were in need of public support for such care.
  5. The US has the highest rate of infection with sexually transmitted diseases of any industrialized country. 19 million cases impose a tremendous economic burden, as high as $14 billion per year.
  6. Increasing access to family planning services will improve women's health and reduce the rates of unintended pregnancy, abortion, and infection with sexually transmitted diseases. Contraceptive use saves public health dollars. For every dollar spent to increase funding for family planning programs, $3.80 is saved.
  7. Contraception is basic health care that improves the health of women and children by enabling women to plan and space births.
  8. Women experiencing unintended pregnancy are at greater risk for physical abuse and women having closely spaced births are at greater risk of maternal death.
  9. A child born from an unintended pregnancy is at greater risk of low birth weight, dying in the first year of life, being abused, and not receiving sufficient resources for healthy development.
Source: Prevention First Act (S.21/H.R.819) 2007-HR819 on Feb 5, 2007

Focus on preventing pregnancy, plus emergency contraception.

Kucinich signed Prevention First Act

Source: S.21&H.R.463 2009-S21 on Jan 6, 2009

Other candidates on Abortion: Dennis Kucinich on other issues:
Nominees:
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden

Third Parties:
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader
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Page last updated: Feb 08, 2010