The Corner

Still More Rudy on Abortion Funding

Rudy Mark 2 was straightforwardly for taxpayer funding of abortion. That was the Giuliani we all knew from 1989 until this year. (By the way, if anyone has any quotes from Giuliani expressing his deep personal disapproval of abortion dating from his time as mayor, please send them along.) Since then, things have gotten more complicated.

Then Bill Simon told Kathryn Lopez that he had “assurances” that Giuliani supported the Hyde amendment, which in its present form bars federal funding for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or threats to the mother’s life.

Then the Giuliani campaign explained to The Hotline that he hadn’t changed his position: that he merely respected the Hyde amendment as current law. The Hotline took this to mean that getting rid of the amendment would not be a priority for a Giuliani administration. It didn’t publish any follow-up suggesting that the campaign had disagreed with the interpretation. Left open was the question of what a President Giuliani would do with a Democratic Congress that sent him an abortion-funding bill. (I don’t mind that some of my conservative friends are for Giuliani, but I do wish they weren’t such cheap dates.)

The latest comments still leave that question open, and raise some new ones. Giuliani seems to be under the impression that as long as the Supreme Court says that abortion is a constitutional right, states are in some sense–legally? morally?–obligated to help poor people have access to it. Never mind that the Supreme Court itself has said (in a series of 1977 cases) that there is no constitutional right to taxpayer-funded abortion. Are there any other constitutional rights whose exercise Giuliani believes requires taxpayer assistance? We can start with the first amendment and keep going.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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