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Under Pressure From Anti-Choice Groups, Gingrich Flips To Anti-Birth Control Position

By Ian Millhiser on December 5, 2011 at 12:50 pm

"Under Pressure From Anti-Choice Groups, Gingrich Flips To Anti-Birth Control Position"

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Gingrich & The Birth Control Pills He Now Appears To Oppose

Although GOP presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich previously took the view that “personhood begins at conception,” on Friday, Gingrich told ABC’s Jake Tapper that life begins at the “successful implantation” of a fertilized egg in a woman’s uterus. This position would effectively lead to a ban on all abortions while still maintaining women’s access to most forms of birth control. Unfortunately for Gingrich, however, this position proved insufficiently radical to his anti-choice base, and he flipped back to an even more right-wing stance just one day later:

Newt Gingrich has moved quickly to repair any potential fallout from his remarks last Friday to ABC’s Jake Tapper in which he said that life begins at the “successful implantation” of a fertilized egg, rather than at conception.

That is heresy to the pro-life movement, and had the potential to complicate Gingrich’s rise in the Republican presidential polls, especially in crucial states like Iowa and South Carolina, whose early caucuses and primary are dominated by conservative Christian voters.

“As I have stated many times throughout the course of my public life, I believe that human life begins at conception,” Gingrich said in a statement posted Saturday on his campaign’s website and sent to Joshua Mercer at CatholicVote.org, a conservative political site that had first called attention to — and sharply criticized — Gingrich’s statement.

Gingrich’s current stance closely maps the views of radical “personhood” advocates who don’t just want to ban abortion, but who also intend to ban many common forms of contraception. Because birth control bills and IUDs prevent fertilized eggs from implanting, Gingrich’s Friday position suggested that he wanted to preserve women’s right to use these forms of contraception. His sudden switch, however, appears to abandon this view in favor of the much more radical belief that women should not be allowed to use the pill.

Of course, Gingrich’s view runs headlong into the Constitution — the Supreme Court held several decades ago that laws prohibiting contraception are unconstitutional. Sadly, however, the fact that banning birth control is unconstitutional won’t matter one bit to Gingrich if he decides to ban it. Gingrich recently pledged to openly defy Supreme Court decisions he disagrees with, and he even endorsed a radical proposal to have Congress thumb its nose at the Constitution and simply declare that fertilized eggs enjoy the exact same rights as people.

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