Rubio: “If I’m going to err, I’m going to err on the side of life”

Marco Rubio was questioned on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday about his comments on abortion during last week’s debate. Here’s what he had to say:

CHUCK TODD: You got a lot of universal praise for the debate, but I want to get into one specific issue where there has been some questions about a response you had, and it’s on abortion. I want to just get clarification. Will you support legislation that has exceptions?

MARCO RUBIO: I have. Sure.

TODD: Anti-abortion legislation that has exceptions for life —

RUBIO: I’ll support any legislation —

TODD: Rape, incest —

RUBIO: Yeah. I’ll support any legislation that reduces the number of abortions. So that means a 20 week abortion ban. At five months, a child is — you will recognize it as a human being in an ultrasound image. And I’ll support that. That doesn’t, obviously, cover the whole gamut, but it reduces the number of abortions. I’ll support any legislation that reduces the number of abortions. And there are those that have that exception in them. I have never — what I’ve never done is said that I require that it must have or not have exceptions.

TODD: Why not? Why don’t you think there should be a requirement of an exception?

RUBIO: Well, a couple points. I think, first of all, the questions that people ask about those two instances — [they’re] horrifying. I mean, I can’t — a rape is an act of violence. It’s a horrifying thing that happens. And fortunately, the number of abortions in this country that are due to rape are very small, less than one percent of the cases in the world. But they happen, and they’re horrifying, and they’re tragic, and I recognize that. And I also recognize that because of the existence of over the counter morning-after, not to mention medical treatment that’s now available immediately after the assault — that should be widely available to victims. We can bring that number down to zero.

That being said, I personally and deeply believe that all human life is worthy of the protection of our laws. I do. And I believe that irrespective of the conditions by which that life was conceived or anything else. And for me to be consistent on that belief, that’s why I feel so strongly about it. That being said, I recognize that in order to have a consensus on laws that limit the number of abortions — a lot of people want to see those exceptions, and that’s why I’ve supported those laws in the past, as has every pro-life group in America.

TODD: Where is the constitutional line of protection between an unborn child and the mother?

RUBIO: That’s why this issue is so hard. There is no doubt that a woman has a right to her own body; has a right to make decisions about her own health and her own future. There’s no doubt. And then there’s this other right, and that’s the right of a human being to live. And these rights come into conflict when it comes to this issue, and so you have to make a decision.

And it’s hard. I don’t say it’s easy. Listen, you’re 15 years old, and you become pregnant, and you’re scared, and you have your whole life ahead of you and you’re facing this — that is a hard situation. I tell people all the time, don’t pretend this is easy. This is a difficult question. But when asked to make a decision between two very hard circumstances, I’ve personally reached the conclusion: If I’m going to err, I’m going to err on the side of life.

Thomas Valentine is a researcher for APIA and a junior at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.