Earlier tonight, David Frum tweeted an Associated Press report that says Rick Perry and other GOP candidates oppose abortion even in cases in which the life of the mother is at risk. This claim sounded incorrect when I first read it. After doing some digging around, it looks like the AP has made an error that needs to be corrected. Here’s the relevant portion from the report:
Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry on Tuesday said he had strengthened his opposition to abortion and now opposes the procedure even in the case of rape, incest or when the woman’s life would be at risk…
Perry signed the Personhood USA pledge, which states “abortion and the intentional killing of an innocent human being are always wrong and should be prohibited.” Gingrich, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania also signed the pledge.
Paul signed the pledge but with a footnote to emphasize his libertarian beliefs.
The AP’s reporting on the “life of the mother” exception appears to depend entirely upon the contents of the Personhood USA pledge which Perry and several other candidates signed. If so, the AP has misrepresented the pledge. A careful reading shows that the pledge does in fact allow an exception for the life of the mother. Here’s the relevant section:
I recognize that in cases where a mother’s life is at risk, every effort should be made to save the baby’s life as well; leaving the death of an innocent child as an unintended tragedy rather than an intentional killing.
This passage contemplates the possibility that an unborn child might die as a result of an attempt to save the mother’s life. The loss of unborn life in such a case would be permitted as long as the loss is an unintended consequence of trying to save the mother’s life. In other words, the pledge opposes abortion except in cases in which it is required to save the life of the mother. This is slipshod reporting, and it feeds into an unhelpful narrative that paints pro-lifers as dangerous extremists. The Associated Press needs to issue a correction.