As Newt Gingrich surges to the head of the GOP presidential field, he is running headlong into some of his former positions. Slammed by conservatives and competitors for previous support of the national health insurance mandate and universal coverage, climate change, and foreign policy, Gingrich is backpeddling towards more right-wing positions. It appears to be no different with women’s reproductive rights.
Revealing how far right the GOP has shifted, fellow contender Michele Bachmann and others blasted Gingrich for holding tempered and standard GOP positions on abortion, including supporting federal funding of abortions for victims of rape or incest, or to protect the life of a mother. Apparently feeling the heat, Gingrich is taking a major step to his right. Not only did he recently endorse fetal personhood, but he told ABC’s Jake Tapper he now believes that life begins at the implantation of a fertilized egg:
TAPPER: Abortion is a big issue here in Iowa among conservative Republican voters and Rick Santorum has said you are inconsistent. The big argument here is that you have supported in the past embryonic stem cell research and you made a comment about how these fertilized eggs, these embryos are not yet “pre-human” because they have not been implanted. This has upset conservatives in this state who worry you don’t see these fertilized eggs as human life. When do you think human life begins?
GINGRICH: Well, I think the question of being implanted is a very big question. My friends who have ideological positions that sound good don’t then follow through the logic of: ‘So how many additional potential lives are they talking about? What are they going to do as a practical matter to make this real?’
I think that if you take a position when a woman has fertilized egg and that’s been successfully implanted that now you’re dealing with life. because otherwise you’re going to open up an extraordinary range of very difficult questions
TAPPER: So implantation is the moment for you.
GINGRICH: Implantation and successful implantation.
Gingrich’s implantation position is not as radical or ambiguous as that of some “personhood” activists whose “life begins at conception” view could criminalize birth control. Still, his new-found idea that life begins at implantation is a sharp contrast to his previous positions. Implantation occurs 7 to 14 days after conception — well before most women even know they’re pregnant — and defining life at this point will essentially ban all abortions.
Gingrich’s radical step backward is still not enough for Bachmann. At her book signing in Rockville, SC this afternoon, she insisted that life begins at conception (even before implantation) and that Gingrich’s new view “will put a doubt in people’s mind as to his commitment to standing up to the pro-life cause.”