Miracle of modern science: We have collected every statement President George Bush has ever made on abortion and fed them into a computer. The machine has been able to peer three years into the future and project the questions on abortion and the president's answers when he debates the Democratic nominee in October 1992:
Q: Mr. President, early in 1980, you said Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, "was right." And you supported federal funding for poor women to have abortions in cases of rape and incest.
A few months later, after becoming Ronald Reagan's running mate, you joined him in calling for a constitutional amendment to ban abortion. And in 1984, you denied having ever supported federal funding for abortions in rape or incest cases.
In the 1988 campaign, you supported a right to abortion in rape and incest cases. In 1989, your administration urged the Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade, and you vetoed federal funding for abortions in rape and incest cases, saying poor women might fake rape or incest.
Ever since then, anti-abortion candidates have been defeated in droves at the polls and you have refused to discuss the subject.
Could you clarify your position and respond to your opponent's charge that you have flip-flopped in unprincipled pursuit of political advantage?
President Bush: Well, as I've said before, my position has always been the same as it is now, which is to say it has been evolving.
A lot of the problem here has been the use of that word abortion, which I never liked, because a lot of people think it is the same as ending a human life, and they may be right. This stuff gets pretty profound. But getting un-pregnant, ending a pregnancy, is not the same thing at all. And that ought to be every woman's birthright. Write that down. Because you guys in the press keep getting it all fouled up with my opposition to abortion, personal opposition that is, wouldn't have one my-, wouldn't want one in my own family.
And the Democrats, and the ACLU, they keep trying to make a partisan political fight about this, because they would really like to force abortions, the Roe v. Wade thing, let doctors force abortions on women who really don't need to have them, don't want to have them. That's the real issue here, and that's why we said Roe v. Wade was wrong, and that's why Jimmy Baker had to straighten you fellas out after the debate the last time around, that the women are really the victims of these abortion doctors, and the women should be treated with love and compassion, and it's the abortion doctors who ought to be punished if anyone. We're still sorting out the penalties here.
But of course, as I've always said, a doctor who assists a woman in becoming un-pregnant, ending a pregnancy, that's different and I think it's right there in the Hippocratic Oath, you know, the first thing is, do no harm. And it does no harm that I can see in respecting a woman's right not to be pregnant. Because my position has never been based on ideology, or ideas, for that matter. I'm not looking for any conflict on this, and I deplore those who try to foment conflict between the many good women in this country who want to be un-pregnant, and their good doctors, and the good people who support innocent human life. And I support all of them.
But I would never want to have women forced to have abortions like they have done in China, which isn't to say they shouldn't do it there. The Chinese leaders are great friends of mine and I wouldn't want to say anything about their internal affairs, the Tiananmen Square thing and all. But this is our internal affairs, and that's why I remain resolutely opposed to abortion, but steadfastly supportive of a woman's right to undo an unwanted pregnancy forced upon her by rape or incest or other circumstances leading to the pregnancy of a woman who did not try to become, did not want to, ah, that is a woman who would rather not be pregnant.
And of course everybody knows there's no such thing as being just a little bit pregnant, but it's better, easier at any rate, to undo a pregnancy at that stage than at the others. The first trimester, I think they call it, the doctors do, or the lawyers.
So let's not talk about history or some quote in the newspaper because my recollection is that I never opposed a woman's right to become un-pregnant. Didn't then. Don't now. Now I hope you got that down because you guys, not that I think you would do it on purpose, but sometimes you just don't listen up when I explain these things.
Q: Sir, to follow up. I'm not sure I understand the distinction you draw between having an abortion and ending a pregnancy.
President Bush: Well, let me help you with that. The American people understand that distinction because the polls show that the overwhelming majority do not approve of abortion, personally, but the same overwhelming majority does not think the government should impact on a woman's privacy insofar as her decision whether to remain in a state of pregnancy. So, I am 100 percent with the American people on this, and everything, and that's what America is all about, and the flag. I feel exactly the same way about this issue as I do about the Stars and Stripes.
Q: Sir, do you still support the Human Life Amendment?
President Bush: Amendment? I support the flag amendment, that's what 1 support, to ban desecration of the flag, and people who spit on it or burn it or cast contempt on it. I think we should err on the side of freedom, a woman's freedom not to be pregnant, or to pledge allegiance to the flag without fear of it being desecrated, and all the other freedoms that make this country great, and human life is certainly one of them. It's a great country in which to be human and to be alive. Next?
Q: Er, one more on abortion, sir. There is some confusion about the position you took in that veto in 1989. You opposed Medicaid abortion funding for poor women who were victims of rape and incest while supporting the rights of women to have abortions in such cases if they can pay the cost. Is there a contradiction there?
President Bush: No. No contradiction.
Q: Could you explain?
President Bush: Well, if you insist. You know, people were accusing me of waffling at the time, when I said I hoped we could avoid conflict, and on Noriega and everything, which was false of course, the waffling business. But in Washington as you folks like to say appearances are sometimes more important than reality, and I was confronted with a choice where to avoid the appearance of waffling it was necessary to take a position that some might think was inconsistent with the reality of my support for the right of a woman, especially one who has been the victim of rape or incest. So it was a tough call but that's what I am here for, so I made it, and it was really the best way to go.
Because with all those women who might pretend they were raped to get abortions the cost would add up, and the next thing you know there would be new Democrat taxes to pay for them all. So it was really a budgetary thing more than anything, part of the no-new-taxes aspect, and it had nothing at all to do with poor women, whom I support, or rape or incest, which I don't, or the kinder and gentler thing.
Q: Mr. President, if abortion were illegal and you had a daughter who was raped and became pregnant as a result, and she came to you for help getting an abortion, would you help her?
President Bush: Well gee, now that's really none of your business. Like I've always said, that's a private thing between parent and child, whether to have the baby and do the adoption thing, or go to Sweden, or somewhere, for the other. But this has nothing to do with that veto because it doesn't involve Medicaid. The Bush family doesn't use Medicaid, never has, and so nobody would be taxed no matter how we handled it. Might even be able to deduct the doctor, and maybe the air fare, if you went to Sweden. Medical deduction.
So I am for it. Or against it. Depending on how you look at it. Clear enough?