Steele’s abortion comments anger fellow Republicans

March 12, 2009

Michael Steele has gone and put his foot in his mouth again. USA-POLITICS/REPUBLICANS

In an interview with GQ magazine, the Republican National Committee chairman described abortion as an “individual choice” and said individual states should decide its legality.

Those comments, predictably, have drawn a sharp rebuke from other Republican leaders who say he should stick to the party’s core position that abortion should be outlawed nationwide.

“Chairman Steele, as the leader of America’s pro-life conservative party, needs to re-read the Bible, the U.S. Constitution, and the 2008 GOP Platform. He then needs to get to work — or get out of the way,” said former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, a former rival for the RNC job.

Mike Huckabee called Steele’s remarks troubling. “For Chairman Steele to even infer that taking a life is totally left up to the individual is not only a reversal of Republican policy and principle, but it’s a violation of the most basic of human rights,” the former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate said on his blog.

Steele was widely praised as an eloquent speaker when he was elected as chairman of the Republican Party at the end of January. But since then, he’s spent plenty of time apologizing for off-hand comments that have angered many in the party and prompted some to suggest that he should resign.

In a statement sent out Thursday, Steele said he has always opposed abortion and said the Supreme Court decision that made it legal should be repealed. “The Republican Party is and will continue to be the party of life,” he said.

Also on Thursday, Steele named Rhode Island lawyer Ken McKay as his chief of staff to oversee the committee’s day-to-day operations. McKay managed the 2002 and 2006 campaigns of that state’s governor, Donald Carcieri, and served as his chief of staff.

The appointment sends a message to those who have called for Steele’s resignation: he doesn’t plan to go anywhere for a while.

photo credit: REUTERS/Molly Riley (Steele speaks after being elected Republican National Committee chairman in Washington, January 30)

For more Reuters political coverage, click here.


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its time to check the people we place in charge…. not after they are in office. get back to what we stand for life liberty and the people…. and the people also include unborn………! other wise you just become another demcorat… in sheeps skin…..

Posted by rc boyd | Report as abusive

But I thought the GOP was the party of state’s rights over federal or individual rights; what gives here?

Posted by borisjimbo | Report as abusive

RC Boyd has it exactly right! The Republic angle used to be, and should be, that Abortion is 100% indisputably within the sphere of each state’s “police powers” as defined by the constitution. Just like insurance regulations and primary education and highway laws — the STATES are supposed to be regulating this. It’s simply not supposed to be a Federal matter.

We’re tearing ourselves apart as a country because all of these issues have become zero-sum games. People in Mississippi and Massachusetts have to live under the same laws for marriage and abortion when OBVIOUSLY, the framers of the constitution never intended all of these things to be decided in Washington.

Posted by Zero One | Report as abusive

All he needs to do is use a teleprompter like Obama. Obama really sucks as a speaker when he doesn’t have his teleprompters to make even a mere announcement. So quit throwing stones at Steele.

I am very sure this whole thing is being taken out of context and the progressive liberals are looking to destroy another threat to their agenda.

The list is growing longer and longer. Destroy anything that gets in their way.

Can’t win with a rational arguement so the liberals always try to destroy. It always ends up hurting them in the end.

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

BTW. The framers of the constitution would never have agreed with abortion or “different” marriage laws whether the states decided those issues or not.

They did however believe God should be the center of our core as a nation, even if some of them did not believe in God themselves. To do so, would be the demise of our country. My how far we have fallen from that basic truth.

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

Yea you tell them TC, The Founding Fathers wanted God as the center of everything, I guess thats why they do not mention the word GOD once in any of their documents right? I wish people like you would move to Afganistan if you want to be ruled by religion, I’ll buy your one way ticket. America Love it or leave it.

Posted by TS | Report as abusive

If you have never come across God in any documents of the founding fathers then you have never read any documents of the founding fathers.

Posted by David | Report as abusive

Michael is absolutely correct, this is a personal choice, just as God gave each of us a choice to worship him or not, we each have to make this choice and then God will decide how to deal with it, and states should decide how they want to handle it. Personally I am against abortion but also believe everyone out there has to make up their own mind as well as the doctors who perform it.

Posted by Debi | Report as abusive

Women get to decide about abortion. It’s that simple. Leave god out of it — there is no such thing. If you want to believe some crazy idea then own it yourself and try to justify it on the basis of some ancient book that contains hundreds of contradictions.

Posted by Jim Gilliam | Report as abusive

The GOP will implode under its own weight, then loose in 2012 and 2016. Only then will a new party start to emerge with a clear definition of appropriate taxation rate, important role of the government and a business solution healthcare education and energy. The current GOP is no different from say the Taliban. No disagreements allowed and God rules. This is dogma. Where does individual and states rights fit? Steele will step down soon after he finally realizes the current GOP is a deadweight and philosophical quagmire.

Posted by George | Report as abusive

Wow. So, Michael Steele is going against everything that Republicans stand for by saying that abortion is a law that should be left to each state to decide? I thought Republicans were all about reducing the power of big goverment and keeping it at the local level?? Methinks they are running out of scapegoats they can point their finger at.

Posted by Sahara18 | Report as abusive

“Can’t win with a rational argument” eh, sorta like your idol Rush?

Posted by borisjimbo | Report as abusive

when tc gets out there he can tell all the democrats that bailed out when bush got elected that they can return.sorry just threatened never did,we have always liked america the way it is ,that is why we don,t want to change it.obama is the chance kid,ask him to go i will buy his ticked,and hopefully you will be sitting on his knee.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

Actually, Mike, Mr. Steele did not “infer” anything. He implied and you, Gov. Huckabee inferred it. If Mr. Huckabee represents the best and brightest of his state, perhaps we should have let Arkansas secede.

Posted by Mike Johnson | Report as abusive

What exactly does “reading the Bible” have to do with good government? Church and state are separate in the USA and unless we want to end up with an American Taliban in charge like Afghanistan we better not forget it! Responsible government officials know better than to try and legislate based on religion. Good for Steele for not getting govenment and religion confused.

Posted by Rick W | Report as abusive

Yeah, get back to towing the party line and stop thinking for yourself Michael Steele….Blame the liberals for taking your words out of context while your at it…..Republiloosers. Learn your history TC and stop making up facts to bolster your worthless arguments. So you were actually at the signing of the constitution then? The US was founded under the idea that individuals cannot be persecuted for their religious beliefs. “GOD” has since been snuck in through the back door throughout history (example “under god” added to the pledge of allegiance). Get your facts right and stop making things up.

Posted by YO | Report as abusive

It’s sad that news comment sections are overrun by people like TC who can write whatever they want without backing up a single thing.

Posted by Jimmy | Report as abusive

Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I think you’re wrong…If the Founding Fathers “believe God should be the center of our core as a nation”, like you said, wouldn’t they put the word “God” in the Constitution somewhere? Oh, and wouldn’t they integrate the church and state. Why on earth did they come up with this stupid thing called “Separation of Church and State”…. Religious influence of the government was exactly what the Founding Fathers wanted to avoid. Sorry if its a little harsh…Cheers. God bless all of us :)

Posted by Tony | Report as abusive

May the Lefties stop the termination of unformed fetuses when the Righties stop sending fully formed adults to die in wars.

Posted by Andrew Schulsinger | Report as abusive

I’m sorry, I’m just a stupid moron who believes that MY religion is right while everyone else is wrong. Liberals really annoy me by insisting on things like “facts” when I know I can win rational arguments by talking about my invisible, walking on water friend who personally talks to me at night. How rational!

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

i am christian and anti-abortion AND i approve of mr steele’s comment. the problem with the american anti-abortion movement has been its signal inability to think and act incrementally; ie outlaw it across the board in one felll swoop or we have failed. to reverse roe v wade and put the question back in the state courts – where it belongs anyway – would allow for the incremental destruction of the abortion industry. tc &ts: fight nice; most of the founders were deists, so the god at the centre of their everything was not the god of the bible; however, the states were always different to the federal government, and so there could be no church of america but there were churces of the various states.

Posted by jd | Report as abusive

How can republicians say that they are all about life but are PRO DEATH PENLTY?? Steele is correct, it is an individuals choice. I wish replublican would stop thinking they are GOD and allow individuals to think for themselves and stop trying to use “their” bible believes to scare or bully people into giving up there right to do anything but what they say. The bible also states it is wrong to judge, but that all they do is judge people who do not confirm to the GOP way of thinking. Any person who rules for and participates in a death sentence is committing a sin against life. Think about your message before you start quoting the bible.

Posted by deedee | Report as abusive

I am a christian, a Republican, and I approve of Mr. Steele’s comments. While I believe that the taking of an innocent life is wrong, it is up to each woman to make that decision for herself and her conscience. I am against government money being spent to support such destruction (or the use of government money to intentionally create the unborn for the sole purpose of destroying them to obtain stem cells). And this should be a state right issue.
DeeDee, the reason most conservatives I know have no problem being anti-abortion but pro-death penalty is the important word: Innocent. The unborn are innocent. A person convicted of capital murder is not – they have shown a complete lack of regard for human life – an unborn child cannot say that. Just as you are astonished by this apparent conflict by conservatives, how can a liberal defend killing an unborn child but not the convicted murder? doesn’t that unborn child deserve greater protection? I’ve also heard that state funds shouldn’t be used to sponsor state sanctioned murder… yet that is exactly what state/federally funded abortion is – state sanctioned murder. By the liberal argument, if you eliminate one, you must eliminate the other.

Posted by ntw | Report as abusive

Mr. Steel is not the person I thought he was…he is not what we need now. I am anxious to hear how Hannity responds this time. Will he defend Steele citing a media blitz from the left like he did with Rush?

What is happening? I will be devesated if Hannity gives Steele a pass on this one too.

Leaning to get out of the Republican party soon.

Posted by Val Rappa | Report as abusive

Wow. Er, if you read the Bible, the Constitution, and the GOP platform you’ll see that of those three, only the GOP platform speaks out against abortion. Are the Republicans so completely unconcerned about being honest that they can make that kind of statement without worrying about being called out on it?

Blackwell and Huckabee are giving the Republicans yet another well-deserved black eye. Why would any even remotely honest person sign on with these people?

Posted by Paul | Report as abusive

“I am a christian, a Republican, and I approve of Mr. Steele’s comments. While I believe that the taking of an innocent life is wrong, it is up to each woman to make that decision for herself and her conscience. ”

That type of statement is wrong in so many ways. My guess is that if you asked those guilty of horrible, racially based crimes if they felt that that what they were doing was right they would reply that their consciences were clear and untroubled. Does that mean we ought to tolerate those crimes because someone’s “conscience” told them it was OK?

Please think about the implications of what you are writing and believing!

Posted by Joe | Report as abusive

As an Independent who is a supporter of Barack Obama – I feel that Michael Steele is exactly what the Republicans need right now – not Rush Limbaugh. Rush represents the bloated, aging, older guard of the party that saw its heyday in the nineties and early part of this century. Jindal and Steele represent the new direction they need to grow with in order to be competitive with the democrats. Steele’s comments are right on with the message the party needs to hear if it wants to grow – not those with the spiritual ideology of Mitt Romney, (another old timer). If you want to get Independents like myself – who live on the progressive Pacific Coast to lean toward the Republicans – I would say that the direction that the current leadership is headed is correct.

Posted by Bill Martin | Report as abusive

It’s time for Steele to resign or it’s time for Pro-Life and decent Americans to distance themselves from the Republican party. I will not vote for a party lead by people like Steele who support the killing of innocent human beings.

Posted by Peter Shinn | Report as abusive

This debate has been going on forever. The pro-lifers are of the opinion that a fetus is human from the time of conception. Others believe otherwise. This conflict between two belief systems is irreconcilable. Dragging “God” into the argument is a red herring and has naught to do with legalities. The nadir to which the pro-life sentiment can fall was recently demonstrated in Brazil when a pregnant 9-year old girl was excommunicated from the Catholic Church for aborting twin fetuses. Her father, who had got her pregnant through rape, was left alone. This seems to me a complete miscarriage of justice that has resulted from policies which refuse to allow women control over their own bodies. To whit, it’s ok to rape a woman (servant, slave, chattel, or pick your own term) and impregnate her, but it’s not ok for her to remedy the situation.

Pro-lifers are not. They are simply mysogynists operating under a dangerously thin disguise.

Posted by Catspaw | Report as abusive

[…] speak of federal authority to legislate on marriage either. (To be fair, some within the your ranks aren’t thrilled with the States’ rights argument, preferring instead a Lincolnian stance on […]

Posted by Open Letter to the (Newly Resurrected) GOP – Socio-Political – Cato Gary Johnson Open Letter to GOP Rant Reason – Dueling Barstools | Report as abusive

The debate on abortion is merely opinion. Moral values are based on either self-centered, God-based or society-based non-provable basic assumptions. For the Catholic viewpoint let me excerpt from the free ebook series “And Gulliver Returns” (   The Abortion chapter in Book 4 elaborates the pros and cons of the 3 ethical assumptions. Let me attempt to summarize the changing Catholic position. From the 13th Century the views of St. Thomas Aquinas, that male embryos got their souls about 4 weeks after conception, females somewhat later, were the standard. His was a Christionized view of Aristotle’s ideas.
The crux of the modern idea, that the soul is infused at conception, might be traced to St. Paul (Romans 5:12) who started the ball rolling on ‘original sin.’ 500 years later St. Augustine popularized the idea. But the Blessed Virgin was born without original sin, her Immaculate Conception. Pope Pius IX declared this in 1854. Then in 1870 he decided that popes were infallible in church doctrine. So was his pronouncement retroactive?
Recent popes have generally followed Pius’s idea that the soul enters the zygote at the moment of conception. This brings with it some theological problems. Since many fertilized ova never implant in the uterus what happens to these little souls?
If you are really interested in the question, see the aforementioned chapter. It is done in detail.
Additionally, unwanted children don’t have a fair chance at a happy life, which may affect their chances of a joyful afterlife. Adoption is only a limited option since there are not unlimited adoptive parents–especially for questionably healthy babies–like crack babies. Abortion is good from both a self-centered and a society based morality. It is also moral from most religious views, if they don’t follow the Pope’s opinions. If you are a conservative Catholic who believes that the Pope gets his opinions directly from God, it makes sense. But if you are not a strong Catholic your opinions are certainly on thin ice–logically.

Posted by ProfBob | Report as abusive