Friday, October 22, 2004


No abortions, no penalties—so what's the problem?

The Republicans have really outdone themselves this year. Their stellar field of candidates for the U.S. Senate includes a Dr. Mengele clone in Oklahoma and a demented baseball player in Kentucky. But they've compromised their standards in Florida by selecting the sort of man you'd normally keep out of your golf foursome—a trial lawyer!

Last Monday Mel Martinez reluctantly joined Democrat Betty Castor in a debate moderated by Tim Russert. Here's Martinez—parsing his way through a series of questions on abortion.

RUSSERT: Mr. Martinez, you said you would be in favor of banning all abortions, even in case of rape or incest. Who would be prosecuted for an abortion if it broke the law?

MARTINEZ: I wouldn't look forward to that opportunity.

My hope is that we can convince Americans that we need to encourage a culture of life.

The fact that too many women are driven into abortion by husband, a spouse, a boyfriend, sometimes a parent. And those people need to have our compassion and our help as well.

But how about women who choose to have an abortion?
The bottom line is I don't plan on prosecuting anyone.

When I go to the United States Senate, I'm going to be confirming judges who will go to the courts and the courts will deal with this issue.

This is not up for a vote by the United States Senate.

RUSSERT: If all abortion was banned and constitutional amendment to end all abortion was passed would a doctor, would a woman be persecuted [sic]?

MARTINEZ: No, Tim. I would never want to see people prosecuted.

RUSSERT: So why would they obey the law?

MARTINEZ: I think what we need to do is educate people and encourage a culture of life in this country.

I don't foresee -- what we need to do is minimize the number of abortions.

We need to end the heinous practice of late-term abortion.

We need to end or allow parents to have a say in their children's decisions on something as fundamental and important as that.

We're far from prosecuting people in this country over that issue.

Martinez has come up with the most sensible compromise ever—make abortion illegal but withhold the penalties.

We've already taken that approach in the matter of theft by large corporations, and the results have been astonishing. But I do worry about those activist judges who will be left to "deal with this issue."

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