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Wesley Clark Takes a Stand on Abortion

Celebrating Roe v. Wade, the general explains what he really thinks about abortion.

2:30 PM, Jan 22, 2004 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
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Bedford, New Hampshire
WESLEY CLARK CELEBRATED the 31st anniversary of Roe v. Wade today by appearing at a breakfast fundraiser sponsored by the Planned Parenthood of Northern New England Action Fund. During a brief set of remarks he declared that "no one has a right to come between a woman, her doctor, her family, and her God."

Establishing his pro-choice bona fides, Clark continued, saying, "I have always been and always will be pro-choice." (Previously Clark has admitted that he voted for Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush. His first vote for a pro-choice presidential candidate came in 1992 for Bill Clinton.)

By way of explaining his commitment to legalized abortion, Clark said,

choice is a fundamental Constitutional right, plain and simple. And my commitment to choice doesn't stop with reproductive choice. I'm going to fight to expand choice for women and men in all aspects of their lives--in the home, in the workplace, and everywhere else.

Moving quickly on, Clark segued into a call to fully fund the Violence Against Women Act,

because sexual assault and domestic violence are human rights violations, plain and simple. I stood up for human rights in Bosnia. I stood up for human rights in Kosovo. And I'll stand up for human rights right here in America.

Employing the language of human rights in defense of abortion is not, perhaps, the most tactful choice. Particularly in light of Clark's somewhat gruesome view of the sanctity of abortion. Remember the exchange with the Manchester Union Leader's Joseph McQuaid earlier this month:

Clark: I don't think you should get the law involved in abortion--

McQuaid: At all?

Clark: Nope.

McQuaid: Late-term abortion? No limits?

Clark: Nope.

McQuaid: Anything up to delivery?

Clark: Nope, Nope.

McQuaid: Anything up to the head coming out of the womb?

Clark: I say that it's up to the woman and her doctor, her conscience. . . . You don't put the law in there.

BUT THEN AGAIN, perhaps Clark's views aren't so gruesome because with regard to abortion, it isn't clear that he actually understands what he's talking about. Taking questions from the press after his speech, Clark was asked what limits he would put on late-term abortion. He replied, "I stand with the established set of laws, Roe v. Wade and Casey." Pressed for more specifics, he elaborated, "I support the settled laws of Roe v. Wade and Casey."

The reporters forged ahead:

Q: General, do you believe there should be any restrictions on a woman's right to choose an abortion?

Clark: Well, I support the established law, Roe v. Wade and Casey. And it's all laid out in there in great detail.

Q: So you support the limitations--

Clark: I support Roe v. Wade as modified by Casey.

Q: Would you sign a partial-birth abortion bill that included a health exemption for the life of the mother?

Clark: If it didn't conflict with the standards in Roe v. Wade and Casey. . . .

The exchanges continued in similar fashion until one reporter finally asked Clark what these standards were. Clark replied, naturally, "I'm going to stand on Roe v. Wade."

And he most certainly did.

Jonathan V. Last in online editor of The Weekly Standard.