GOP presidential hopefuls grapple with Texas abortion case

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As a Texas woman’s case has tested the state’s abortion laws and thrust the issue back into the national spotlight, it has raised eyebrows even among presidential hopefuls in the GOP, the party that has pushed for restrictive abortion laws and even outright bans.

Texas was one of several states that adopted an abortion ban after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022. Kate Cox, a 31-year-old mother of two, sought a court order that would allow her to receive an abortion after learning that her fetus was developing with a fatal abnormality likely to result in stillbirth or the death of the baby shortly after birth. However, the Texas Supreme Court blocked a lower court ruling granting her permission to undergo the procedure, shortly after Cox traveled out of state to seek care.

Here’s what the Republican presidential field has said so far:

“I don’t know the exact details of the Texas law, but what I do know is my heart breaks for her,” Nikki Haley, former ambassador to the U.N. and South Carolina governor, said in an interview with CNN on Wednesday, referring to Cox.

“When I say we need to have compassion, this is exactly what I’m talking about. When you look at someone’s experience, we should never want to see someone with a rare condition who has to deliver a baby any more than we should want to see a mom have an abortion at 37, 38, 39 weeks,” continued Haley, who describes herself as “pro-life.” These comments closely mirrored her statement to NBC News on Tuesday.

Haley has staked out a more moderate position on abortion than several of her rivals, saying she doesn’t “judge anyone for being pro-choice” and that regulating abortion should be left up to the states. She has also noted that Republicans pushing for a federal abortion ban are not being forthright about the feasibility of passing such legislation, which would require 60 Senate votes.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was the only candidate to express outright opposition to the Texas Supreme Court’s decision.

“I think the Texas Supreme Court was wrong,” Christie told The Associated Press on Wednesday. And I think that, in a situation like this, you’re not protecting any life because the child clearly has been diagnosed with having a fatal illness. So all you’re doing is putting the life of the mother at risk by making her carry it to term.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, during a CNN town hall on Tuesday night, declined to address Cox’s case directly. Instead, he called for a compassionate approach to the issue in general and shifted to speaking about a six-week abortion ban he signed in Florida, which has carveouts for rape, incest, the life of the patient and fatal fetal abnormalities.

“I understand they’re very difficult and these things get a lot of press attention,” DeSantis said. “But that’s a very small percentage that those exceptions cover. You know, there’s a lot of other situations where we have an opportunity to realize really good human potential, and we’ve worked to protect as many lives as we could in Florida.”

Biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy also avoided commenting directly on Cox’s situation, instead telling NBC News on Monday that he believed the issue of abortion was reserved for the states.

Former President Donald Trump has not spoken of the Texas case, and his campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

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