Former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson, a Republican candidate for the presidential nomination, said on Sunday he does not fully support the pro-life plank of the Republican Party.
In an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," Senator Thompson told the show's host Tim Russert that he favors overturning the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that compelled legalized abortion nationally. However, the senator said he himself does not favor criminalizing abortion at the state level.
"People ask me hypothetically, you know, OK, it goes back to the states," said Thompson. "Somebody comes up with a bill, and they say we're going to outlaw this, that, or the other. And my response was, I do not think it is a wise thing to criminalize young girls and perhaps their parents as ‘aiders and abettors’ or perhaps their family physician. And that's what you're talking about. It's not a sense of the Senate. You're talking about potential criminal law."
The Republican Party platform has for decades included pro-life language and support for a human life amendment providing legal protection for the unborn. Senator Thompson declared he could not support a human life amendment, according to Cybercast News Service.
Senator Thompson tried to explain his position, saying "Before Roe v. Wade, states made those decisions. I think people ought to be free at state and local levels to make decisions that even Fred Thompson disagrees with. That's what freedom is all about. And I think the diversity we have among the states, the system of federalism we have where power is divided between the state and the federal government is, is …serves us very, very well. I think that's true of abortion. I think Roe v. Wade hopefully one day will be overturned, and we can go back to the pre-Roe v. Wade days."
Senator Thompson did declare his belief that life begins at conception. He also cited his past support for pro-life policies, such as his votes against human cloning, partial birth abortion, and federal funding for abortion.
"I would have done the same policies as president that I did when I was in the United States Senate, which is one hundred percent pro-life," he claimed.