Campaign

RFK Jr. walks back abortion ban comments

Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has walked back his remarks saying that he would support a federal ban on abortion. 

In an interview with NBC News at the Iowa State Fair, Kennedy said he would sign a federal ban on abortion after 15 weeks or 21 weeks of pregnancy if he were elected president. 

“I believe a decision to abort a child should be up to the women during the first three months of life,” Kennedy said, adding, “Once a child is viable, outside the womb, I think then the state has an interest in protecting the child.”

“I’m for medical freedom,” Kennedy said. “Individuals are able to make their own choices.”

In a statement to The Hill, Kennedy’s campaign team said that the candidate misunderstood the questions asked by NBC News congressional reporter Ali Vitali, citing a “crowded” and “noisy” exhibit hall at the fair. 

“Today, Mr. Kennedy misunderstood a question posed to him by a NBC reporter in a crowded, noisy exhibit hall at the Iowa State Fair,” the statement said. “Mr. Kennedy’s position on abortion is that it is always the woman’s right to choose. He does not support legislation banning abortion.”

In response, Vitali posted to X, a social media platform formerly known as Twitter, a transcript of her full exchange with Kennedy, stating that she asked her questions multiple times to make sure the presidential candidate understood the subject. 

“Here’s the full exchange with Kennedy, in which I ask the questions multiple times to make sure we’re understanding- even at one point saying I was surprised by the stance,” Vitali said in her post. 

Kennedy, who announced his 2024 presidential campaign in April, previously referred to himself as “pro-choice” and spoke in favor of legalizing abortion. 

“I’m not going be in a position, put myself in a position, where I am going to tell a woman to bring a child to term,” Kennedy said at a town hall stop in New Hampshire earlier in June, according to Politico

It’s been more than a year since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision established nearly 50 years ago that gave the constitutional right to abortion to women. Multiple GOP-led states have either implemented or enacted their own abortion bans and restrictions when Roe was overturned.

Kennedy’s remarks come days after Ohio voters rejected a ballot measure that would have made it harder to amend the state constitution — which was partly seen as an effort to prevent a statewide vote in November on a ballot measure that would enshrine abortion rights into the state’s constitution. 

Updated: 12:21 p.m. ET

Tags Abortion in the United States abortion rights Ali Vitali Iowa State Fair NBC News Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

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