Thursday, June 02, 2011

Pawlenty Caught Being Almost Honest, At First

Governor Tim Pawlenty built a reputation in Minnesota of being staunchly pro-life. Perhaps it's no surprise then, that on an issue of apparently deep personal conviction, he has found it a little tricky to pivot- into dishonesty. Douglas Burns of the Daily-Times Herald of Boone, Iowa reported

Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, an Evangelical Christian who liberally sprinkled his autobiography with biblical verses and describes himself as “pro-life” on abortion, said Monday that he doesn’t think women who have abortions or doctors who perform them should be penalized criminally.

This morning, his staff clarified that position, saying Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, wants to see abortion providers penalized, possibly criminally, but not mothers — should his pro-life view prevail and abortion turn from the generally legal procedure it is today to a prohibited act.

In an interview that touched on the topics of rural economic development and abortion after an event at the Pizza Ranch in Boone Memorial Day afternoon Pawlenty said he didn’t have a specific penalty in mind for abortion. But Pawlenty, a former state legislative leader and attorney with experience as a prosecutor, offered an initial take on the question.

“I don’t think we want to make it a criminal sanction but I think there should be some kind of penalty or consequence, but we don’t have a specific proposal as to what that would be,” Pawlenty told the Daily Times Herald.

Pawlenty declined to answer a follow-up question about how much, if any, time he has devoted to considering the penalty element of the abortion debate.

Eric Woolson, the veteran Iowa GOP operative who is Pawlenty’s senior adviser and communications consultant, called the Daily Times Herald after the interview to elaborate on Pawlenty’s comments Monday. “As you know, this was the last question in the press scrum and discussion got chopped off.” Woolson said. “To be clear, if Roe v. Wade is overturned, the issue of abortion returns to the states for them to decide the issue and penalties, if any. As to the governor’s views on these matters, he believes that if abortion becomes illegal, abortion providers should be subject to a penalty possibly including a criminal penalty. However, he does not believe women should be penalized.”

Added Woolson, “I apologize for creating the confusion by ending the discussion because we were behind schedule.”

Were abortion prohibited, the woman would be not a mere accessory, but the prime catalyst of the criminal act. But realizing that pro-life sentiment in the nation evaporates if criminal sanctions upon the women are suggested, Pawlenty opted for intellectual consistency and on Monday nixed the suggestion of criminal penalties for anyone. Nevertheless, by Tuesday morning, political correctness and expediency prevailed and the ex-governor decided that the provider be punished while the individual paying for (what he would consider) murder be held blameless.

And it's a good thing he did. Reporter Burns continued

Maggie DeWitte, executive director of the anti-abortion group Iowans For Life, said in a phone interview today that she similarly believes that mothers should be held harmless in any potential abortion sentencing.

“Criminal sanctions should be in place for the providers,” DeWitte said. “(Mothers) are the ones that are being deceived by the providers.”

The fact that Pawlenty didn’t arrive at that answer on first blush concerns DeWitte.

“It does give me pause, especially when you look at the potential presidential candidates we have,” DeWitte said.

Deceived? The pro-conception movement generally has argued that women are aware of the life within; and now they are deceived into having a fetus destroyed? In the right-wing fantasy, doctors face the prospect of jail for performing abortions. Nonetheless, they throw caution to the wind and actively recruit innocent, girls for their Mengele-like schemes. (Women would know better; but girls, as they are considered by DeWitte and others, are foolish little things, incapable of thought and easy prey for deception.)

But the otherwise impressive Robin Marty is wrong when she argues "I guess we should at least be grateful the GOP hasn't quite moved to 'jail the woman terminating, too' quite yet." Neither guys from Minnesota running for President nor Iowan activists are foolish or stupid; there is a reason they insist that a woman not be prosecuted for a contract hit. We know it's not concern for women, whose reproductive rights they would like abridged. Nor is it concern for the fetus, given their belief that the person responsible for its destruction should be given a pass. Rather, it's a central part of a wise political strategy. Once a decision is made to threaten with prosecution a woman considering an abortion, it's over for the anti-abortion rights movement.

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