Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has endorsed completely unrestricted abortion “even if it’s full term.” 

“My belief is that we should leave it to the woman, we shouldn’t have government involved,” Kennedy said on an episode of “The Sage Steele Show” aired on Wednesday. 

Steele, who is a Catholic, pressed Kennedy further on whether he holds this position for the entirety of pregnancy, saying that “as a Catholic that definitely is a concern with many practicing Catholics.” 

Kennedy responded by confirming that he would leave the decision to the pregnant woman “even if it’s full term.” 

“I don’t think it’s ever OK,” Kennedy added. “I think we should do everything in our power to make sure that never happens, everything that we can do. But I think ultimately, nobody sets out to do that and there are always some kind of extenuating circumstances that would make a mother make that kind of choice, a terrible, terrible choice which is, you know, you can’t overstate how bad that is, but ultimately, I think we have to trust the woman.” 

He admitted that he believes “there is a very good argument that the state has an interest in protecting a fully formed fetus,” but went on to say: “I come down to the fact that I don’t trust the state and I think we need to trust the woman.” 

Kennedy’s running mate, Nicole Shanahan, a tech entrepreneur and health activist, meanwhile, was surprised by this stance, saying in another episode of “The Sage Steele Show” that unrestricted abortion until birth “is not Bobby’s position as I understand it.”

“My understanding is that he absolutely believes in limits on abortion, and we’ve talked about this,” Shanahan said, adding: “I don’t know where that came from.”

Stefanie Spear, a spokesperson for Kennedy’s campaign, confirmed with CNA that though Kennedy believes “late-term abortions are horrifying,” he “believes the mother has the final say, and moral responsibility, in such decisions.” 

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Spear also confirmed that if elected president, Kennedy, like Biden, would support efforts to “codify” Roe v. Wade by passing a federal law to overrule state pro-life measures.

She said that this legislation “is needed to protect body autonomy.”

She added that Kennedy is “committed to reducing the abortion rate by supporting mothers and families and implementing universally affordable childcare.” 

Kennedy’s independent run has attracted a considerable amount of traction. Among Kennedy, Trump, and Biden, Kennedy is the only candidate to have a positive favorability rating. In terms of national support, he is currently polling at 10.1%, well behind former President Donald Trump, who leads at 41.3%, and incumbent President Joe Biden, who is polling at 40.7%, according to the latest poll by 538

A Catholic and the nephew of the first Catholic president in U.S. history, Kennedy has said that his relationship with God is “the centerpiece of my life.” 

In an interview with EWTN in April, Kennedy said that he believes “every abortion is a tragedy” and proposed a plan to subsidize day care “to make sure that no American mother ever has an abortion of a child that she wants to bring to term because she’s worried about her financial capacity to raise that child.”

“I would like to maximize choice but also minimize the number of abortions that occur every year,” Kennedy said.

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He also said he would not reverse the Biden administration’s approval of expanding access to the abortion pill in stores like CVS and Walgreens. However, he added that “we ought to know what the side effects are, what the risks are, [and] what the benefits [are].”

This article was updated on May 10, 2024.