In statements made this week, former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN) has staked out several radical positions on abortion rights and reproductive health issues, positions that are far more conservative than even those of President Bush.
In an interview with the Hoover Institution, Thompson argued that Roe v. Wade is the most harmful Supreme Court decision in 40 years and should be overturned. Thompson called the decision “bad law” and “bad medicine,” and appeared to agree with Robert Bork, the notorious far-right judge whose Supreme Court nomination was rejected, that Roe v. Wade contains “not a single sentence of legal reasoning.”
Also, Thompson gave a video address yesterday at the National Right to Life conference, in which he equated late-term abortions with infanticide:
In 1994, I made my first run for the U.S. Senate. I was proud to receive the National Right to Life endorsement. I’ve been with you ever since. You’ve been with me ever since. On abortion related votes I’ve been 100 percent. We’ve had a lot of different kind of issues come up in the Senate from federal funding to stem cell research, Roe versus Wade and the partial birth abortion debate or as former Senator Pat Moynihan of New York used to say it’s more like infanticide than partial birth abortion.
Watch Thompson’s comments on Roe v. Wade (10:12):
Thompson’s views are extreme and outside of the mainstream. According to a recent Gallup poll, just 35 percent of the American public agree that the Supreme Court should overturn Roe v. Wade, which relied on a long line of precedent that established a fundamental right to privacy that includes personal decisions about whether to bear a child.
The “late-term” or “partial birth” abortions decried by the right wing are actually performed in the middle of a pregnancy — prior to viability — which more Americans support. Despite being safer than other midterm techniques, the Supreme Court recently upheld a ban on the procedure — even though it had no exception to preserve a woman’s health. Women and their doctors should be the ones to decide the best procedure. Thompson’s comments recklessly imply that these women are deliberately killing infants and should be criminalized.
UPDATE: Scott at Lawyers, Guns and Money has more on Thompson’s views.
UPDATE III: We’ve corrected an earlier version of the post which said that Thompson believed Roe v. Wade was the most harmful Supreme Court case in history. He said it was the most harmful case in the past 40 years. We apologize for the error.
Q: Since you got your law degree in 1967, which decision of the Supreme Court has done the greatest disservice to the nation?
THOMPSON: Oh, I suppose, that overall, I’d have to say Roe v. Wade.
Q: Two comments on Roe v. Wade occurred to me immediately. Judge Bork has written — I think I can quote him exactly — that Roe v. Wade contains “not a single sentence of legal reasoning.” Bad decision from the first word to the last.
Q: Rudy Giuliani recently said, that he’d appoint justices, and it would be alright with him if they upheld Roe, and it would be alright with him if they overturned Roe. What’s your view on this?
THOMPSON: No. I think Roe was fabricated out of whole cloth. I think it represents a bigger problem with the federal judiciary, and that is that too many people get up and decide one day that they want to change social policy in this country that has been there for a couple hundred years. In this case, it was not only bad law, it was bad medicine. I mean, we know a lot of things now about all that that we didn’t even know them. And it was another example of thwarting the notion of federalism, which is an integral part of our constitution — taking things away from the states to decide, by the people, on a local basis, and having a few men in black robes make those decisions. So it’s not only the substance of the decision, but the symbolic effect that it had.
Q: So your position on abortion would be overturn Roe, and put it back to the states. Let the states decide.