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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Bill McCollum flip-flop on abortion?

23

August

In the final stretch of the Republican race for governor, every nuance, every utterance and every snippet ever spoken by Bill McCollum, Rick Scott and their surrogates is under the microscope. And nothing receives the attention like abortion and other life issues.

Take the flap over McCollum telling the Christian Coalition, et al, that he doesn't support abortion, even in cases of rape or incest. The Scott folks pounced this morning, noting that "McCollum is on the record with the Orlando Sentinel saying that he does not support taxpayer funding of abortions except 'in circumstances where the mother's life or health is at risk or in cases of rape or incest.' "

Not quite. The blog in question refers to a letter McCollum wrote governor Charlie Crist, urging him to sign legislation regarding sonograms and abortion. (Crist vetoed it). In his letter, McCollum outlines three reasons to sign the bill. Reason number 2 is what's in question:

Second, the bill prohibits taxpayer-funded abortions. The bill specifically prohibits health insurance purchased through an exchange with any state or federal funds from providing coverage for an abortion unless it is performed to save the life or health of the mother or in cases of rape or incest.

It looks as if McCollum is explaining what the bill does. He's not saying he supports the bill because of the rape-or-incest clause. He's saying he supports it because it prohibits taxpayer-funded abortions. Since the Christian Coalition of Florida and associated groups are in McCollum's camp, we asked Florida Right to Life what they thought.

Matt Ozolnieks, chairman of the group's PAC, said a review of their records back to 2004 shows McCollum has been consistent on the issue. What about Scott? Ozolnieks said he's strong on "life issues" as well. "We have two strong prolife candidates," he said. What about the Christian Coalition voter guide, which went out of its way to question Scott's abortion stances by noting that some abortions might have been performed at some of the 343 Columbia/HCA hospitals he controlled in the 1990s?

"On further investigation, it turns out that has been blown out of proportion," Ozolnieks said. "He pushed for conscience clauses, which puts him in a prolife position."

Scott does think abortion should be permitted in cases of rape or incest. So why is his campaign raising the alleged McCollum flip-flop in the first place? Because McCollum has done at least two reversals this campaign season: 1) on supporting an Arizona-style immigration law and 2) supporting embryonic stem cell research. McCollum in 2004 said he supported the research on fertility clinic embryos that would otherwise be destroyed. This year, he said he never said that. But then earlier this month, he said he did change his position.

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[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 11:22am]

    

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