Campaign Watchdog: Democrats' abortion claim about Andy Barr false

jstamper@herald-leader.comNovember 2, 2012 

The statement: Andy Barr "says here he'll vote to outlaw a woman's right to choose, and make it a crime — with no exceptions. ... Not even if your life is at risk."

— Radio ad by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

The ruling: False

The facts: Republican Andy Barr's stance on exceptions to an abortion ban has been a hot topic this week after he refused to answer a question about the issue during a debate Monday night on Kentucky Educational Television.

Barr, a Lexington lawyer, is challenging Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler of Versailles in Tuesday's election. Barr has promoted himself as a pro-life candidate throughout his campaign, including in a mailer that showed a photo of his daughter.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee claims Barr said he would make no exceptions to a ban on abortion, even when the mother's life was in danger. That's not what happened during the KET debate.

Moderator Bill Goodman repeatedly asked Barr if abortion should be illegal in cases of rape, incest or when a mother's life is endangered. But rather than answer the question, as the DCCC ad claims, Barr skirted the issue by saying he is proud to be pro-life and would vote for the "pro-life position" on all abortion-related issues he expects Congress to consider. Specifically, Barr said he is against taxpayer-funding for abortion, partial-birth abortion and gender-selection abortion.

He similarly avoided answering reporters' questions about exceptions to an abortion ban for most of the week.

On Thursday, a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader reminded Barr that he had told the newspaper in 2010 that there should be only one exception to an abortion ban. "Other than when the life of the mother is at stake, I believe Congress should do all that it can to protect the life of every human being — born or unborn," Barr answered in a Herald-Leader questionnaire two years ago.

The newspaper had specifically asked, "In what instances do you think abortion should be legal?"

Barr confirmed Thursday that his stance has not changed in the past two years. He explained his silence this week by saying he was "trying to build consensus on a difficult issue."

Campaign Watchdog finds the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's claim to be false. Barr refused to state his position on abortion exceptions for several days, but he did not say abortion should be illegal when a woman's life is in danger.

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