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In Defense of Michael Steele

12:25 PM, Mar 12, 2009 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Ben Smith pointed out the following exchange between Michael Steele and a reporter from GQ:

[Steele:] The choice issue cuts two ways. You can choose life, or you can choose abortion. You know, my mother chose life. So, you know, I think the power of the argument of choice boils down to stating a case for one or the other.

Are you saying you think women have the right to choose abortion?

Yeah. I mean, again, I think that's an individual choice.

You do?

Yeah. Absolutely.

Under fire from pro-lifers, Steele has now issued a statement to clarify his remarks:

I am pro-life, always have been, always will be.

I tried to present why I am pro life while recognizing that my mother had a "choice" before deciding to put me up for adoption. I thank her every day for supporting life. The strength of the pro life movement lies in choosing life and sharing the wisdom of that choice with those who face difficult circumstances. They did that for my mother and I am here today because they did. In my view Roe vs. Wade was wrongly decided and should be repealed. I realize that there are good people in our party who disagree with me on this issue.

But the Republican Party is and will continue to be the party of life. I support our platform and its call for a Human Life Amendment. It is important that we stand up for the defenseless and that we continue to work to change the hearts and minds of our fellow countrymen so that we can welcome all children and protect them under the law.

Ed Morrissey writes: "The two statements cannot be reconciled with each other. They are mutually exclusive. And Steele has offered both as his views in two successive days."

I disagree. Steele was asked whether there is a right to abortion--not whether there ought to be a right to abortion. Under the current legal regime dictated by the Supreme Court, abortion is an "individual choice" throughout all nine months of pregnancy for effectively any reason. In the GQ interview, was Steele simply stating the fact that abortion is an individual choice or expressing support for the laws that make it so? Steele wasn't perfectly clear, but it's clear from the entire GQ transcript that he's making an argument in favor of choosing life over abortion.

It's been a rough couple of weeks for Steele, and maybe it would be a good idea if he heeded Jay Cost's advice and realized the primary role of the RNC is fundraising rather than doing as many interviews as possible. Nothing will do so much to reconcile Steele to Republicans as electoral victory.