Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s campaign on Sunday evening quickly tried to walk back comments the Democratic presidential candidate had made earlier in the day in support of a nationwide abortion restriction after the first three months of pregnancy.
“Mr. Kennedy’s position on abortion is that it is always the woman’s right to choose. He does not support legislation banning abortion,” the campaign said in a statement, attempting to clarify remarks Kennedy had made to an NBC reporter at the Iowa State Fair that had prompted praise from a major anti-abortion rights group.
Kennedy, who’s waging a long-shot bid for the nomination against President Joe Biden, had said that he believes “a decision to abort a child should be up to the women during the first three months of life,” but that “the state has an interest” in restricting abortions after the first trimester and that he would support a federal law banning abortions after that period.
“Once a child is viable outside the womb, I think then the state has an interest in protecting the child,” Kennedy told NBC. He also added: “I’m for medical freedom. Individuals are able to make their own choices.”
The Kennedy campaign said he misunderstood the question “in a crowded, noisy exhibit hall at the Iowa State Fair.”
According to video of the exchange, the NBC reporter had asked Kennedy, “So three months, you would sign a federal cap on that?” to which he replied, “Yes, I would.”
The campaign’s statement came shortly after Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America praised Kennedy for the position he outlined to NBC, calling it a “stark contrast to the Democratic Party’s radical stance.”
SBA Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser called Kennedy “one of the few prominent Democrats aligned with the consensus of the people today” and used his comment to NBC to criticize Biden on abortion.
CNN has reached out to SBA Pro-Life America about the Kennedy campaign’s subsequent statement.
Kennedy has a long history of spreading vaccine misinformation and unfounded conspiracy theories, taking stances on some issues that could undermine his Democratic bona fides as he tries to challenge Biden, whom many in his family are backing. CNN’s KFile reported last month, for example, that Kennedy’s campaign paid a litany of prominent activists – which includes some anti-vaccine advocates, public health conspiracy theorists and Republicans, either individually or through their businesses, according to campaign filings.