Back in February, we wondered what exactly Ted Cruz’s position on the anti-abortion strategy of fetal “personhood” was. At a campaign stop in Iowa, Cruz said that he hasn’t “supported personhood legislation,” but over the past several years the Texas senator had made several statements supportive of personhood laws and amendments, which would outlaw all abortion and could even jeopardize some forms of birth control.
True to form, when Cruz was asked directly about his stance on “personhood” today, he dodged the question, saying that he didn’t want to talk about “labels.”
Eliza Collins at Politico reports that according to a partial transcript of an interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd that will be broadcast tonight, Cruz was not eager to clarify his views about the issue:
Pointing to the Texas senator’s past history of wavering before eventually signing a pledge promising to support a personhood amendment to the Constitution in 2015, Todd asked, “Where are you on personhood? Are you going to pursue this as an agenda or are you just simply supporting the idea? Do you know what I mean by the difference?”
“Well listen, some of the labels in this debate can get confusing because different people mean different things about labels. I don’t want to get in a back and forth on labels,” Cruz responded. “I believe every human life is a gift from God and we should cherish and protect and celebrate them.”
Cruz … declined to answer when pressed if he thinks IUDs, which some conservatives oppose, are an acceptable form of contraceptive.
Todd then returned to personhood, asking: “Are you going to pursue it as an addendum?”
“I told you I’m not going to get into the labels, but what I will say is we should protect life. But I’m not interested in anything that restricts birth control. And I’m not interested in anything that restricts in vitro fertilization because I think parents who are struggling to create life, to have a child, that is a wonderful thing,” Cruz said, dodging further questions from Todd.
“Well, no one is questioning whether you’re pro-life. This is a different. That’s why I’m asking. Would you pursue this?” Todd asked again.
“I will happily support anything that protects life. And protecting life is a value that matters. Whether it is stopping partial birth abortion, which I think is a barbarism. Or whether it is fairly enforcing the criminal laws against Planned Parenthood. You know, a few months ago, we had this series of videos that were horrifying,” Cruz said.
Cruz is correct to say that the “personhood” label can “mean different things”… but he has in the past endorsed nearly every one of those different meanings.
One “personhood” strategy is to pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution declaring that personhood begins at conception, which would not only overturn Roe v. Wade but would actively outlaw abortion nationwide; Cruz endorsed that strategy when he signed a pledge for a Georgia anti-abortion group last year.
Another strategy is to pass statewide “personhood” amendments, which would create challenges to Roe v. Wade in the courts; Cruz endorsed that strategy in a video address he recorded in South Carolina in February.
“Personhood” can also mean the dubious effort to bypass Roe v. Wade by simply passing federal legislation declaring that embryos and fetuses are “persons” under the Constitution; Cruz said last year that such a strategy would “absolutely” work.
So, Cruz has pledged to support a federal amendment, praised state-level amendments, and endorsed a federal legislative strategy all aimed at establishing legal “personhood” for zygotes and fetuses, but also says that he has never “supported personhood legislation.”
It’s no wonder he doesn’t want to talk about labels.