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Joshua Gillin
By Joshua Gillin September 23, 2016

Rubio would take away right to abortions for rape or incest victims, Murphy says

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy said Sen. Marco Rubio has a zero-compromise position on abortion.

In a new campaign ad that started appearing Sept. 20, 2016, Murphy’s campaign said Rubio, the Republican incumbent, refuses to give ground on the issue, even in extenuating circumstances.

"Marco Rubio would take away a woman’s right to choose for victims of rape or incest," the ad said. It included video of Rubio saying, "I don’t require there to be an exception for rape or incest."

Murphy has faced criticism that he’s a conservative in Democrat’s clothing, so his ad touted his own support for abortion.

The ad goes on to say Rubio wouldn’t allow the procedure for pregnant women with Zika.

Rubio has previously confirmed he would oppose allowing a woman who has contracted the virus to abort a fetus that potentially had severe microcephaly. He said he preferred "to err on the side of life" rather than allow the procedure.

But what has Rubio said about allowing exceptions for rape and incest victims? We checked his record and found that even though Rubio strongly opposes abortion, his stance on granting exceptions is a bit more nuanced than Murphy described.

Rubio’s record

Rubio’s history against abortion is well documented. He has advocated for further restrictions on abortion, including banning the procedure after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

But allowing abortions for rape and incest victims is a trickier subject, which came up while Rubio was running for the GOP presidential nomination.

During an Aug. 6, 2015, Republican debate in Cleveland, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly pointed out Rubio favored a rape and incest exception to abortion bans, which Rubio refuted.

"I have never said that. And I have never advocated that," Rubio said. "What I have advocated is that we pass law in this country that says all human life at every stage of its development is worthy of protection. In fact, I think that law already exists. It is called the Constitution of the United States."

Rubio reiterated this view after that debate on Glenn Beck’s radio show, saying he personally supported banning abortion unless the mother’s life was endangered.

"Now I recognize that other people don’t hold that view, and in order to save lives in this country, I have supported bills that had to have exceptions in them," he told Beck.

Now back to running for re-election to the U.S. Senate, Rubio has supported legislation that contained rape and incest exceptions at least twice.

Back in November 2013, he was one of 40 cosponsors for a Senate bill called the "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act." The bill, which stalled in committee, banned abortions at 20 weeks or greater but includes exceptions, including rape and incest.

Rubio also cosponsored a similar version in 2015 that required adult women to obtain counseling or medical treatment for the rape 48 hours before the abortion, with separate criteria for minors about reporting the rape to law enforcement.

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We also found examples of bills Rubio supported that did not appear to contain a rape exception.

In 2000, then-state Rep. Rubio voted for a Florida ban on late-term abortions. The original version of that bill didn’t contain a rape exception, though it allowed a doctor to take steps to save the life of the mother. It became law in May 2000, but court decisions ended state enforcement of the ban.

Another example is a 2013 U.S. Senate bill Rubio cosponsored that was similar to those earlier proposals but pertained to the District of Columbia. That bill made an exception to save the life of the mother, but not for rape or incest.

Rubio’s own "Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act," which he introduced in 2015, would have made it illegal for a minor to cross state lines for abortions to get around parental notification laws. Rubio’s bill included an exception in order to save the mother’s life, but not if the mother was a victim of rape or incest.

Recent rhetoric

Rubio’s clear preference is that an abortion not be performed, but he is willing to support anti-abortion legislation that includes an exception for rape and incest.

He says as much in the very soundbite Murphy’s ad uses.

The clip is from a November 2015 event with pastors in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. If you review it in full context, Rubio says he prefers essentially all abortion to be illegal, but is willing to vote for legislation containing exceptions. It begins with Rubio stating his position, referring to the aforementioned Cleveland debate (the words plucked out by the Murphy campaign are in bold):

"I’ve taken great criticism for it. You know, I stood up on a debate stage and was challenged about the fact that I don’t require there to be an exception for rape or incest, and this is a tough position," he said.

Rubio stresses the word "require," and then continues:

"And I’ve said, listen, I will vote for bills that have exceptions, because they save lives, and (a) 20-week abortion ban has exceptions. And I’ll vote for anything that saves lives. But I don’t require. That is not a majority position, even in the Republican Party. But I just don’t feel this is a political issue, I really don’t, but I will support those that have exceptions, because I’m in favor of anything that protects life."

That same month, he told the Associated Press,"I, as president, will sign a bill that has exceptions," he said. "I've supported bills that have exceptions."

Rubio has often repeated similar statements, sometimes turning the subject to falsely accuse Hillary Clinton of supporting late-term abortions. But his Republican primary opponents continued to attack him on the issue into 2016.

In February, he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that as president, "if they pass a law in Congress that has exceptions, I’ll sign it because I want to save lives." But he still thought the unborn always deserved protection, even in the event of a "crisis pregnancy." Still, he understood that was not the popular position among the general electorate.

"That’s why any law that limits abortions that passes will almost certainly have exceptions. And I’ll sign it with exceptions," he said.

Our ruling

Murphy said, "Marco Rubio would take away a woman’s right to choose for victims of rape or incest."

Rubio has been a staunch opponent of abortion for years, but his position is subtly shaded. He thinks abortion should not be allowed unless the mother’s life is endangered. But he is willing to support legislation that contains exceptions allowing the procedure for victims of rape and incest. He has backed measures both with and without exceptions.

Rubio has said if he had his way, he’d prefer to ban almost all abortions. But his record shows he’s willing to give at least a little ground on the issue, which Murphy has obscured in his ad. We rate the statement Mostly True.

https://www.sharethefacts.co/share/7568d76f-0a7f-449a-9cf5-135c627ee132

Our Sources

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, "Reckless," Sept. 20, 2016

PolitiFact Florida, "Marco Rubio claims Gov. Crist's veto of abortion bill clears the way for taxpayer funded abortions," June 14, 2010

YouTube, "Rubio: ‘I have never said’ I support an exception for rape and incest ‘and never advocated for it’," Aug. 6, 2015

Los Angeles Times, "Marco Rubio takes tough stand against abortion, with no exceptions for rape or incest," Aug. 7, 2015

MSNBC, "On reproductive rights, Rubio says no exception for rape," Aug. 7, 2015

PolitiFact Florida, "Rubio said he's never advocated for abortion exceptions for rape or incest," Aug. 7, 2015

Washington Post, "Throughout career, Marco Rubio has been a strong, if subtle, abortion rights foe," Aug. 13, 2015

Salon.com, "Rubio reaffirms opposition to rape and incest exceptions: He backs abortion ban ‘irrespective of the circumstances’," Aug. 17, 2015

PunditFact, "Liberal pundit: Marco Rubio opposes rape, incest abortion exception," Oct. 25, 2015

Associated Press, "Targeted by Democrats, Rubio finesses his hard-line position on abortion," Nov. 25, 2015

CBN News, "Brody File Exclusive: Marco Rubio On Life Issue: ‘I would rather lose an election than be wrong on that issue’," Nov. 30, 2015

CNN, "Marco Rubio turns abortion attack on Hillary Clinton," Feb. 4, 2016

YouTube, "Rubio: Rape is a 'terrible situation' but victims should have the baby," Feb. 7, 2016

The Independent, "Marco Rubio says he would rather lose White House than compromise on 'no exceptions' for abortion," Feb. 7, 2016

PolitiFact, "Marco Rubio says Hillary Clinton supports abortions 'even on the due date'," Feb. 10, 2016

YouTube, "Rubio: I don't require there to be an exception for rape or incest," Sept. 20, 2016

Politico, "Rubio: No abortions for Zika-infected women," Aug. 6, 2016

Tampa Bay Times Buzz blog, "New Murphy ad calls Rubio 'reckless on choice'," Sept. 20, 2016

Florida House of Representatives, HB 583, accessed Sept 21, 2016

Florida House of Representatives, SB 160, accessed Sept 21, 2016

Congress.gov, S. 886, accessed Sept 21, 2016

Congress.gov, S. 1670, accessed Sept 21, 2016

Congress.gov, S. 1533, accessed Sept 21, 2016

Congress.gov, S. 404, accessed Sept. 21, 2016

Interview with Galia Slayen, Murphy spokeswoman, Sept. 21-22, 2016

Interview with Michael Ahrens, Rubio spokesman, Sept. 21-22, 2016

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