GQ: Are you saying you think women have the right to choose abortion?
STEELE: Yeah. I mean, again, I think that’s an individual choice. [...]
GQ: Are you saying you don’t want to overturn Roe v. Wade?
STEELE: I think Roe v. Wade—as a legal matter, Roe v. Wade was a wrongly decided matter.
GQ: Okay, but if you overturn Roe v. Wade, how do women have the choice you just said they should have?
STEELE: The states should make that choice. That’s what the choice is. The individual choice rests in the states. Let them decide.
Steele is shifting from what he has said in the past. As recently as November 2008, he supported the GOP platform on a constitutional ban on abortion, although he was “skeptical” of tinkering with the Constitution:
In an editorial board meeting at The Washington Times on Tuesday, Mr. Steele clarified his stance, saying that he thinks Roe should be overturned as a sloppy piece of decision-making, favors state regulation on abortion, and supports the Republican party’s platform that calls for a constitutional ban on abortion. … Mr. Steele added however that he is skeptical of changing the Constitution, fearing that the process will get out of control.
Steele, in fact, presented himself as a strong pro-life candidate when running for the RNC chairmanship. Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said that Steele had “shown a commitment to the values that were once the GOP’s guiding light,” including on abortion. Here’s how Steele pitched himself on his campaign website (cached site here):
No one should ever doubt Michael Steele’s commitment to life. He has been pro-life his entire adult life. In 2006 he was endorsed for US Senate by National Right to Life and Maryland Right to Life. He ran as a staunchly pro-life candidate in a state that rarely elects pro-life candidates.
In its Oct. 25, 2006 endorsement of Steele’s U.S. Senate run, the Washington Times wrote, “Mr. Steele is staunchly pro-life (parting with many Republicans who support abortion in cases of rape and incest) and he is a free trader.”
This announcement will likely add fuel to the fire of his critics, who are already upset that he slighted their real leader.
Today on MSNBC’s Hardball, host Chris Matthews read the abortion segment of the GQ interview and exclaimed, “I have no idea what this man is saying. Is he for human rights or states’ rights? He ought to know the difference. Does a person decide, or does the state legislature, or the state government, or the state court?”