Whoa: Heitkamp Brushes Off DC Reporter's Questions About Abortion Flip-Flop

“I do not support public funding of abortions, and believe that late term abortions should be illegal except when necessary to save the life of the mother,” Heidi Heitkamp told the Fargo Forum during her 2012 campaign.

That was a campaign promise, much like her stance on opposing the filibuster, and as I noted in a post earlier today she’s flip-flopped on both.

Now Heitkamp is dodging questions on the abortion issue. When a reporter from the Weekly Standard caught up to Heitkamp in Washington DC today, she refused to answer his questions. Here’s a transcript of the exchange:

THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Senator in 2012 you said you thought that late-term abortion should be illegal except to save the life of the mother–

Heitkamp: Where are you from?

TWSThe Weekly Standard magazine, and you–

Heitkamp: Why don’t you call the office?

TWS: Is there a reason you voted against today’s bill?

Heitkamp: Why don’t you call the office and we’ll set up an interview.

TWS: Have you changed your mind about the issue, senator?

Standard reporter John McCormack followed up with Heitkamp’s office, which rehashed for him the same boilerplate spin Heitkamp’s staffers have been dishing for some time:

Heitkamp’s communications director Abigal McDonough told me in an email: “Senator Heitkamp believes reproductive decisions should be left to a woman, her family, and her doctor, and it isn’t up to the government to determine what that timeline should be. She also supports the Hyde amendment and a state’s right to mandate parental consent for minors or restrict partial birth abortions, except when medically necessary to protect the life of the woman.”

The statement did not even attempt to reconcile Heitkamp’s 2012 support for banning late-term abortion and her vote on Tuesday. In fact, a straightforward reading of that statement–“it isn’t up to the government to determine what that timeline should be”–would indicate that Heitkamp opposes any gestational limit on abortion. […] Heitkamp’s spokeswoman declined to answer further questions on the record for attribution.

McDonough must have Heitkamp’s dissembling on the abortion issue ready in a cut-and-paste file. The statement McCormack got is, pretty much verbatim, what she also told The Hill on September 1:

“Senator Heitkamp believes reproductive decisions should be left to a woman, her family, and her doctor, and it isn’t up to the government to determine what that timeline should be,” spokeswoman Abigail McDonough wrote in an email.

It seems to me Heitkamp owes the public something more on both this abortion issue and her filibuster flip-flops. It’s clear she’s taken a sharp turn away from positions she specifically campaigned on. Aren’t voters owed an explanation when politicians do that sort of thing?

I should point out that a 20 week ban on abortion isn’t exactly controversial with most North Dakotans, or most Americans for that matter. As I wrote earlier today, no fewer than four national polls in 2013 showed majority support among women for a 20 week ban. In 2014 Washington Post pollshowed 64 percent supporting such a ban and just 28 percent opposed. Huffington Post poll had those numbers at 59 percent and 30 percent, respectively.

And while we should take polls from interest groups with a grain of salt, the Susan B. Anthony’s List is touting a poll they commissioned showing that nearly 70 percent of North Dakotans would support such a ban.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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