In a town-hall interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd on Thursday, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz refused to give a straight answer on whether he would actively work as president to pass a law or constitutional amendment granting 14th Amendment rights to fetuses in utero.
Referring to a pledge Cruz made last August to support a so-called “personhood amendment” by way of securing the endorsement of the Georgia Right to Life pac, Todd asked whether that meant Cruz was “going to pursue this as an agenda” or “just simply supporting the idea” of fetal personhood.
“Well listen, some of the labels in this debate can get confusing because different people mean different things about labels,” Cruz answered. “I don’t want to get in a back-and-forth on labels. I believe every human life is a gift from God, and we should cherish and protect and celebrate them.”
Cruz has talked the talk on such anti-abortion bills repeatedly over the course of his political career. While running for Senate in Texas in 2012, Cruz told the National Pro-Life Alliance that he would support the “Life at Conception Act,” but when Kentucky senator Rand Paul introduced such a bill in Congress the next year, Cruz did not sign on as a co-sponsor.
The issue has come up several times during this campaign as well. In addition to his August pledge, Cruz said in a November interview with conservative Christian thought leader Robert George that he believed Congress could extend “personhood” rights to unborn fetuses without waiting for the Supreme Court or a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Most recently, he issued a video in February in which he stated his support for “legislation that defends the rights of all persons without exceptions, except to save the life of the mother, from conception to natural death.”
During the town hall, Cruz sought to redirect the conversation toward contraception, on which his views are less controversial. “I will say, when it comes to birth control, it is clear that Americans have a right to birth control,” he told Todd.
Todd tried again to get him to say definitively whether he would pursue “personhood” legislation, but the senator answered only: “I will happily support anything that protects life.”