New Bush policy adviser said he'd support jail for doctors who performed abortions

John Byrne
Published: Friday June 16, 2006

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On a PBS program aired this weekend and taped in April, new Bush domestic policy adviser Karl Zinsmeister told the host that he would personally support doctors being jailed for performing abortions, RAW STORY has discovered.

Zinsmeister, President George W. Bush's newly appointed chief Domestic Policy Advisor, gave the interview prior to his White House appointment. Zinsmeister was appointed May 24.

Asked if he would "feel comfortable putting a doctor in jail for performing a procedure that a woman wants?" Zinsmeister said, "sure," while noting that he supported some limitations in cases of rape or incest.

The relevant transcript follows.


BEN WATTENBERG: Do you want to have laws that prevent people from having abortions?

KARL ZINSMEISTER: You know, personally I would vote in favor of that.

WATTENBERG: So you would feel comfortable putting a doctor in jail for performing a procedure that a woman wants? And not just on-demand, but it could be rape, incest, life of the mother.

ZINSMEISTER: Sure. No, again, I have a definition that had some exceptions for rape and incest where there could be real psychological damage to the mother. But yeah, Ben, I mean, you know, if a Ghanan immigrant wants to have a clitorectomy done by a doctor on his daughter, I would also send him to jail for that. There are places we have to draw lines and I don't pretend to, you know, have the only answer in this area. I understand that's a contentious area but I think the larger point that you have to have some boundaries is an important one. And my own preference is not to have these rules and these laws that externally oppress people, but instead incorporate these inside people, to have them decide for themselves that they would rather get married than have children without being married; to have them decide for themselves that they'd rather put their child up for adoption rather than have an abortion. You do that in a slow organic process by encouraging and teaching and leading people to try to make more socially constructive choices, and religion is a very important tool for doing that. It's, for instance, we know it's one of the best ways to get off of drugs; it's one of the best ways, one of the only ways that's had any affect [sic] in getting people form [sic] becoming repeat criminals when they get out of prison. You can't coerce this, you can't press people. It has to be sincere.


Correction: The first edition of this article said, based on an article on another site, the interview was taped May 24, but an email from PBS said the interview was taped in April.