Hutchison clear on Roe v. Wade in 1993; why not now?

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by BRAD WATSON / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on January 22, 2010 at 7:43 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 22 at 8:32 PM

DALLAS - On the 37th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, a group of abortion opponents finished a 40-day vigil Friday afternoon outside a clinic in Dallas.

Abortion remains one of the most controversial issues facing our country and it's become an issue in the governor's race, especially for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

At the first Republican debate, the senator couldn't give a clear answer on whether she would support the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Pro-life groups give Hutchison very high marks for her votes restricting abortion since she was first elected to the Senate. But, on the core question of whether she would support overturning the case that protects abortion as a Constitutional right, she struggled to answer - even when asked four times in last week's debate.

"What I'm saying is if it is overturned you're going to have abortion havens," Hutchison said. "Is there a yes or no to this? Look, I'm just telling you why I'm concerned."

Hutchison is likely concerned with antagonizing social conservative voters who turn out in large numbers in Republican primaries and who are strongly anti abortion.

The campaigns of her opponents, Gov. Rick Perry and GOP activist Debra Medina, said they would overturn Roe v. Wade. In Hutchison's first Senate run in 1993, she was just as clear in saying she would keep abortion legal.

"I am very comfortable that Roe v. Wade is working very well," she said.

At the time, she explained her view of the decision's limits.

"I do not think that there should be government intervention in that decision before viability," Hutchison said. "But, I do think states should have the right to make reasonable restrictions, such as parental consent."

The question of her support of Roe will persist in the campaign.

"She has a solid record of consistently coming down on the side of life," said Jennifer Baker, a Hutchison spokeswoman, while on a taping of Inside Texas Politics. "She's voted to ban partial birth abortions repeatedly."

In 2003, Hutchison took a Senate vote that affirmed Roe v. Wade. It was a hollow victory for pro-choice groups that have consistently given Hutchison low scores or zeros for her abortion issue votes.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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