The much-commented-upon willingness of conservatives to overlook Rudy Giuliani’s heretical views on social issues is about to get the acid test. In an interview today with CNN’s Dana Bash, Rudy reiterated his past support for using public funds to pay for abortions in every case where abortion itself is legal. He also, incidentally, reiterated his support for a constitutional right to choose as well.Bash was apparently trying to get Giuliani to admit a flip-flop by showing him a 1989 tape where he told a women’s group he supported public funding of abortions. Asked directly if this was still his position, he said “Yes,” and elaborated:
“Ultimately, it’s a constitutional right, and therefore if it’s a constitutional right, ultimately, even if you do it on a state by state basis, you have to make sure people are protected,” Giuliani said in an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash in Florida’s capital city.
Wow. This means Giuliani supports repealing the Hyde Amendment, the law that currently prohibits use of Medicaid dollars for abortions in all cases except those involving rape, incest, or endangerment of the life of the woman. First enacted in 1977, the Hyde Amendment is one of the anti-abortion movement’s few genuine trophies. And unlike such contrived issues as bans on so-called “partial-birth abortions,” the Hyde Amendment has a very significant effect. The National Abortion Federation web site quotes a Guttmacher Insitute study suggesting that “20-35% of Medicaid-eligible women who would choose abortion carry their pregnancies to term when public funds are not available.” This is a very big deal. I’ll be amazed if Rudy’s conservative critics, and his rivals for the GOP presidential nomination, don’t jump on this issue powerfully and immediately. What interests me is whether Giuliani fully understood the political implications of his interview with Bash. If he did, I guess you have to admire his suicidal chutzpah.