- The Washington Times - Monday, January 31, 2000

Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain may have gotten himself in trouble with both sides of the abortion debate yesterday by embracing contradictory positions on the issue.
In an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," two days before the New Hampshire primary, the Arizona Republican said he supported a constitutional amendment to ban all abortions but also favored exceptions in cases of rape, incest and danger to the life of the mother.
In a separate interview on CNN's "Late Edition," Mr. McCain said, "I'd like to see provisions for those exceptions in our party platform." The Republican platform currently states that the "unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life that cannot be infringed."
On NBC, Mr. McCain said he favored repeal of the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that made abortion a constitutional right. But he quickly tried to downplay the impact such a legal change would have.
"The fact is that if Roe vs. Wade were repealed, it would then be up to the states … to make those decisions. It would not immediately outlaw abortion. It would mean that each state would make the decisions on that issue in the states," Mr. McCain said.
He attempted a difficult verbal balancing act on the abortion question yesterday as he tried to court New Hampshire independents who tend to support abortion rights without alienating pro-life conservative Republican voters in tomorrow's primary.
"The exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother are legitimate exceptions in this situation. I don't claim to be a theologian, but I have my own moral beliefs," Mr. McCain said on NBC.
He added: "These are all moral problems that we have to work out for ourselves. The life of the mother is obviously a human life, too. The gripping aspects of rape and incest are terrible situations."
NBC's Tim Russert asked Mr. McCain about his statement that repealing Roe vs. Wade would return abortion decisions to the states: "If it's a moral issue, you would not want to have any state allow abortion?"
"I would not," said Mr. McCain.
Even before yesterday, Mr. McCain distressed many pro-lifers as a result of comments he made on his campaign bus Wednesday when asked if he would try to block his 15-year-old daughter from having an abortion if she became pregnant.
"Obviously, I would encourage her to bring that to to know that that baby would be brought up in a warm and loving family. The final decision would be made by Meghan, with our advice and counsel," Mr. McCain answered.
Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes yesterday criticized Mr. McCain's reply on CNN: "What he said about his daughter shows he's pro-choice … not pro-life."
On NBC yesterday, Mr. McCain criticized Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee, which had issued a statement critical of Mr. McCain's abortion stance.
"Mr. Johnson and the [NRLC] have turned a cause into a business," Mr. McCain said, "and they are very worried that if I have campaign finance reform, all this uncontrolled, undisclosed contributions may be reduced, and it may harm them in their efforts to continue this huge business they've got going in Washington, D.C."

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