I remember how bemused I was back in 2012 when George Stephanopoulos raised the specter of banning contraception in a presidential debate. “George, I don’t know if the state has a right to ban contraception, no state wants to! The idea of you putting forward things that states might want to do, that no state wants to do, and then asking me whether they can do it or not is kind of a silly thing,” Mitt Romney responded. Then the Democrats unleashed their war on women tactic, getting the Republicans to back down from attacking President Obama’s push to make nuns fund your birth control and abortion pills.
MSNBC decided to do it again, trying to make it seem as if Ted Cruz wants to ban contraception. He declined to walk into MSNBC’s trap and instead (much to the media’s frustration) gave a full-throated and eloquent defense of life:
CHUCK TODD: Good thing you brought up abortion. You’ve been on both sides of the personhood issue. You were hesitant to support it and then you signed a pledge saying you wanted to see personhood – this idea that the minute, the minute, of conception essentially that that fetus has rights. That’s a divisive issue. It get’s into some contraception disputes. Where are you on personhood? Are you going to pursue this as an agenda or are you just simply supporting the idea? Do you know what I mean by the difference?
CRUZ: Well listen, some of the labels in this debate can get confusing because different people mean different things about labels. I don’t want to get in a back and forth on labels. I believe every human life is a gift from God and we should cherish and protect and celebrate them.
TODD: So you decide when life begins. I mean, I’ll be honest. That’s the dispute here. Right? When does life begin? And when do they have constitutional rights?
CRUZ: I will say, when it comes to birth control. It is clear that Americans have a right to birth control. I am not interested in any legislation—
TODD: All kinds?
CRUZ: – Any restrictions that restrict birth control.
TODD: All kinds?
CRUZ: And you know. Listen.
TODD: I hate to get into the details here but IUD is a big one because of what some people view that it’s not contraception because—
CRUZ: You know it’s interesting, this debate. It actually illustrates something that the media doesn’t understand. The media often describes, and says, life is an issue that is an advantage for the Democrats. You know who doesn’t believe that?
TODD: Actually, that wasn’t what my question is.
CRUZ: But— let me go with this for a second because I’m going to loop back to this.
CRUZ: You know who doesn’t believe that? Democrats. Name the last presidential race where Democrats campaigned trumpeting their support for abortion. You think about the 2012 election. The 2012 election the Democrats focused over and over again on the war on women, which was a totally made up threat. But it focused on contraceptives. It wasn’t on abortion. It was on contraceptives. And and it was. Listen, I have been around conservatives my entire life. I have never met a single human being, in any place, who wanted to ban contraceptives.
TODD: There’s some people that are not thrilled with it. Not for religious reasons.
CRUZ: Listen. There are people who because of their faith don’t use contraceptives. That’s – you have a right to follow your faith. That’s not my faith. I’m Southern Baptist. My faith doesn’t have a problem with contraceptives but I respect those whose faith differs from mine and the great thing about our country is you can live according to your faith. If you’re faith says don’t use birth control then you don’t use it. You know, in my family, I’ve joked. Heidi and I have two little girls. I’m very glad we don’t have 17. (CROWD LAUGHS) You know, we can have some tolerance and some diversity. But the fact that the Democrats had to create this made up threat on contraceptives shows that most Americans want to protect life. And I hope that we have a culture that values every human life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death.
TODD: Personhood. Are you going to pursue it as an addendum?
CRUZ: I told you I’m not going to get into the labels but what I will say is we should protect life but I’m not interested in anything that restricts birth control. And I’m not interested in anything that restricts in vitro fertilization because I think parents who are struggling to create life, to have a child, that is a wonderful thing.
TODD: It sounds like you think this movement doesn’t—there isn’t legislation yet you could support yet for this movement.
CRUZ: What I believe is that we should defend life. And I’ll tell ya, I have a long record of defending life – of defending, for example –
TODD: Well, no one is questioning whether you’re pro-life. This is a different. That’s why I’m asking. Would you pursue this?
CRUZ: I will happily support anything that protects life. And protecting life is a value that matters. Whether it is stopping partial birth abortion which I think is a barbarism. Or whether it is fairly enforcing the criminal laws against Planned Parenthood. You know a few months ago, we had this series of videos that were horrifying. And I will say, virtually none of the network news would show the videos on air. These videos showed Planned Parenthood officials essentially admitting to what appeared to be a pattern of federal felonies. It is a federal felony –
TODD: There is a lot of controversy around how those videos were made. Some of it was made up –
CRUZ: No, no, no it wasn’t.
TODD: Some of the video was made up. Re-enactments.
CRUZ: Let me tell you what there is no controversy about. It is a federal crime – a felony with a 10 year prison term – to sell the body parts of unborn children for profit. That is a federal crime. These videos show senior Planned Parenthood officials laughing, shipping chardonnay, and bargaining and apparently selling the body parts of unborn children. Listen, even if you’re pro-choice, selling the body parts of unborn children as a commercial endeavor is a horrifying thing. And it’s one of the sad indictments of the Obama administration. Nobody on earth – you don’t think and nobody else thinks – the Obama Justice Department would ever investigate Planned Parenthood because they are a political ally of this administration. I think we need a Justice Department that enforces the criminal laws without regard to party or ideology and enforces the laws for everybody.
Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project and can be followed on Twitter @MaggieGallaghe.