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Thursday, April 05, 2007
Giuliani stands by support of publicly-funded abortions

Watch Giuliani on abortion in an interview with CNN's Dana Bash.

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (CNN) -- Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani told CNN Wednesday he supports public funding for some abortions, a position he advocated as mayor and one that will likely put the GOP presidential candidate at odds with social conservatives in his party.

"Ultimately, it's a constitutional right, and therefore if it's a constitutional right, ultimately, even if you do it on a state by state basis, you have to make sure people are protected," Giuliani said in an interview with CNN's Dana Bash in Florida's capital city.

A video clip of the then-mayoral candidate issuing a similar declaration in 1989 in a speech to the "Women's Coalition" appeared recently on the Internet.

"There must be public funding for abortions for poor women," Giuliani says in the speech that is posted on the video sharing site YouTube. "We cannot deny any woman the right to make her own decisions about abortion."

When asked directly Wednesday if he still supported the use of public funding for abortions, Giuliani said "Yes."

"If it would deprive someone of a constitutional right," he explained, "If that's the status of the law, yes."

But the presidential candidate reiterated his personal opposition to the practice.

"I'm in the same position now that I was 12 years ago when I ran for mayor -- which is, personally opposed to abortion, don't like it, hate it, would advise that woman to have an adoption rather than abortion, hope to find the money for it," he said. "But it is your choice, an individual right. You get to make that choice, and I don't think society should be putting you in jail."

And the Giuliani campaign noted later in the day that the former mayor would not seek to make any changes to current law, which restricts federal funding to cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother.

Giuliani also vowed to appoint conservative judges to the bench, though denied such a promise was a "wink and a nod" to conservatives in support of overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision on abortion.

"A strict constructionist judge can come to either conclusion about Roe against Wade," he said. "They can look at it and say, 'Wrongly decided thirty years ago, whatever it is, we'll over turn it.' [Or] they can look at it and say, 'It has been the law for this period of time, therefore we are going to respect the precedent.' Conservatives can come to that conclusion as well. I would leave it up to them. I would not have a litmus test on that."

Giuliani's support of publicly funded abortions is one of several issues that are likely to put him at odds with social conservatives in his party.

Regarding Southern Baptist Convention leader Richard Land's recent criticisms of Giuliani's three marriages, the former New York City Mayor said, "I've made mistakes. I've had a rocky road. I regret them. But they are between me, God, my conscience and the people involved. I wish I had led a perfect life. I keep striving, I keep trying to learn, I keep praying for help.

Watch Dana Bash's complete wide-ranging interview with Giuliani tonight at 7 p.m. ET on "The Situation Room." The presidential candidate also discusses his opponents for the GOP nomination, his views on Iraq, his relationship with his son and his fight with cancer.

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