Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said in an NBC interview that aired Sunday that he believes landmark Supreme Court cases on abortion were “wrongly decided as a constitutional matter” and that a fetus has constitutional rights.
“Those decisions were wrongly decided as a constitutional matter,” Cotton said on “Meet the Press” during a discussion on the cases of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey that established and upheld abortion rights.
Cotton argued that politicians should be the ones who make the decisions on abortion not “unelected judges.”
“These are decisions that the American people ought to make through their elected representatives,” he said.
“People are going to make different decisions. Those decisions will have more democratic legitimacy … if they are available for democratic debate, if people of different viewpoints, through their elected representatives, can make these decisions informed by all of the relevant facts,” he added.
“When do you believe a fetus has constitutional rights?” Todd asked Cotton, seeking his personal opinion on abortion.
“Like a lot of folks here in Arkansas, I’m pro-life and I think a basic responsibility of government in a civilized society is to protect innocent life,” Cotton said. “What I’m most proud of here in Arkansas is that we have recognized that the frontiers of medical science are being pushed back.”
“Medical science, of course, informs these decisions but ultimately these are moral questions, but medical science is advancing. Ten or fifteen years ago a child that was born at 22 or 20 weeks might not have been able to survive as the progress of medical science advances, though that informs our debate.”
Cotton repeatedly lamented “unelected judges in Washington” for allowing abortion procedures to continue across the states.
“I personally believe that life begins at conception, as long as we have unelected judges making the basic rules for abortion though we should try to find ways in which we can protect the most innocent lives that can survive,” he said.
Cotton continued: “I personally believe that life does begin at conception, that’s the standard that most Republicans who have held the presidency in modern times have held as well. Now, we understand there are certain tragic cases like rape or incest or where a mother’s life is in danger that we ought to make an account for — that was the position that Ronald Reagan has as well.”
Todd pressed Cotton on how he can believe life begins at conception and still make exceptions in the cases of rape or incest.
Cotton claimed without evidence and contrary to available polling data, that a “vast majority of Americans” are opposed to abortion.
In fact, the most recent Pew Research Center data showing about 58 percent of Americans think abortion should be legal in most situations, while approximately 37 percent say it should be illegal in most cases.
“Chuck because we live in a democratic society I recognize not everyone shares my views or the views of the vast majority of Americans or Arkansans, that’s why I say that one of the major problems with having unelected judges make these kind of decisions is we don’t have the ability to have those democratic debates,” said Cotton. “To have an open and frank conversation without playing within the guard rails that unelected judges have put up in this country.”
The senator acknowledged that “states are going to make different decisions. New York state earlier this year adopted a very extreme abortion law that would allow abortion almost up to the point of delivery. Some politicians in Virginia ealier this year, like the disgraced governor, proposed even euthanizing children that are born during an attempted abortion I think those are extreme positions.”
“Should this be a political decision or should this be a medical decision?” Todd asked, echoing a point Bernie Sanders made on the show earlier Sunday morning.