In S. Carolina, Giuliani asserts personal, political abortion stances



CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Rudolph W. Giuliani, campaigning in South Carolina, firmly stated that as president he would not seek to make abortion illegal.

Aware of the damage his position might do to him among some conservative voters, Giuliani said that if someone was inclined to vote against him solely because of his stance on abortion, then so be it.

"I think abortion is wrong," he said. "But ultimately, I think it is a woman's right, a woman's choice. And government should not interfere with it by imposing criminal penalties on people."

Giuliani, a Roman Catholic who once considered joining the priesthood, has wrestled with the abortion question for years, often expressing his personal opposition. But he has also long supported keeping abortion legal.

Giuliani has often faced questions about whether his stance might hurt him with voters. When he campaigned in South Carolina two months ago, he said that, as president, he would appoint "strict constructionist" justices to the Supreme Court. Many saw that as a coded endorsement of the position of abortion rights opponents who want candidates to pledge to appoint justices who would overturn Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 court ruling declaring a constitutional right to abortion.

At an earlier appearance yesterday in the state capital, Columbia, Giuliani said that was not the case.

"The present state of the law on these issues is not something that I would seek to change," he said.

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