Pro-Choice Is Not Pro-Abortion, Kerry Says

Times Staff Writer

Sen. John F. Kerry, a Catholic who is personally against abortion, attempted to explain Thursday how he could support abortion rights even though he believed life began at conception, a knotty issue that has dogged him on the presidential campaign.

“Let me tell you very clearly that being pro-choice is not pro-abortion,” he told ABC’s Peter Jennings. “And I have very strong feelings that we should talk about abortion in a very realistic way in this country. It is a very complicated, incredibly important moral issue that people have to face.”

Kerry recently came under fire from some Catholic leaders who suggested that pro-choice politicians should be denied Communion. And on the campaign trail, the Massachusetts senator has emphasized his personal opposition to abortion, which he says stems from his Catholic faith. Earlier this month, he told an Iowa newspaper that he believed life began at conception.


Thursday, Jennings pressed Kerry about whether he then believed that early-term abortions were murder.

“No, because it’s not the form of life that takes personhood in the terms that we have judged it to be in the past,” the senator responded.

“It’s the beginning of life,” Kerry added. “Does life begin? Yes, it begins. Is it at the point where I would say that you apply those [criminal] penalties? The answer is, no, and I believe in choice. I believe in the right to choose, and the government should not involve itself in that choice, beyond where it has in the context of Roe vs. Wade.”

Kerry said Thursday that he personally believed that, in the fertilization process, “a human being is first formed and created, and that’s when life begins.”

“There’s a transformation. There’s an evolution. Within weeks, you look and see the development of it, but that’s not a person yet, and it’s certainly not what somebody, in my judgment, ought to have the government of the United States intervening in.”