North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp has, in the past, had a pretty firm stance on abortions. While she’s pro-choice, she was opposed to public funding for abortions and late term abortions.
“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,” Heitkamp said during her 2012 campaign while her opponent, Rick Berg, was being attacked by national liberal groups for state legislation instituting such a ban.
Flash forward to 2016. The Senate may be considering a 20 week ban on abortion soon, and Heitkamp has been targeted by a pro-life group as a Democrat who might for it (see this post from yesterday). Which seems logical. After all, Heitkamp made a pretty clear statement on the issue during her 2012 campaign.
But the Senator has apparently changed her tune since her 2012 campaign. She now says she opposes a 20-week abortion ban.
Heitkamp’s office indicated Tuesday she would oppose the 20-week ban.
“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.
That’s remarkable, and perhaps something that should be seen through the lense of Heitkamp’s 2016 aspirations?
She clearly understands the political risk in taking this position, given her 2012 statement. If she were truly planning on running for governor in 2016, which Heitkamp has said she is considering, would she taking a stand against a ban on late-term abortions?
Especially considering that such a ban is very popular, both in North Dakota and nationally. No fewer than four national polls in 2013 showed majority support among women for a 20 week ban. In 2014a Washington Post poll showed 64 percent supporting such a ban and just 28 percent opposed. A 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.
Meanwhile, Heitkamp says she’ll announce her 2016 plans within a week.