Howard Dean endorses the overturning of Roe v. Wade

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on December 8, 2003

Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," the leading Democrat presidential hopeful, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, suggested that Roe v. Wade should be overturned and the question of abortion be returned to the states.

(Host CHRIS) WALLACE: Governor, I don't think anybody would deny that those are very important issues, but why take the others -- abortion, guns, God, gays -- off the table? I mean, it sounds like you're uncomfortable talking about values.

DEAN: I'm very comfortable talking about values, but we're never going to agree on some of these issues. I actually have a more conservative positions on guns than many Democrats, although I do support the assault-weapons ban and background checks and all that. But...

WALLACE: But aren't those legitimate issues, whether it's a woman's right to choose versus right to life, whether there should a national ban on assault weapons, gay rights?

I mean, aren't those issues -- I have to say, I remember back in 1988, because I was covering the campaign, when Michael Dukakis said that the campaign is about competence, not ideology, and the Republicans killed him on that.

Don't American voters care about values?

DEAN: They care about values. And there are a lot of different kinds of values. My attitude is, each state's going to make their own kinds of decisions about these difficult issues that we're -- you know, the social issues that divide us.

This was the problem with Roe v. Wade in the first place, the Supreme Court with its 1973 decision took this decision out of the hands of the states and their elected representatives. Contrary to the impression pro-abortion groups have cultivated over the past 30 years, a reversal of Roe would not automatically result in the criminalization of abortion. Instead, each state would have the right to make it's own laws. Abortion may be made illegal in some states, but in others -- like California -- little would change.

Does Dean really oppose Roe? Of course not. But his (professed) willingness to leave certain social decisions to state or local governments betrays perhaps the belief that his (and by extension the Democrat Party) position is a minority one.


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December 2003



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