Watch CBSN Live

Bill Clinton Responds To Anti-Abortion Rights Activists

From CBS News' Aaron Lewis:

STEUBENVILLE, OHIO -- Bill Clinton was confronted by anti-abortion rights activists at a rally for his wife Hillary in Steubenville, OH last night and the former President did not back down.

A few protesters, standing in the middle of the standing audience in front of the stage, displayed a sign in the middle of the speech reading "Abortion Kills Children."

President Clinton recognized the sign and decided to address the issue.

"Even though she as a woman did not believe we should overturn Roe v. Wade," he said, in defense of his wife, "she said – and she said again at the outset of this election – that every abortion is a tragedy and they should be more rare, but safe and legal. And I agree with her."

A loud ovation rose from the partisan crowd inspiring Mr. Clinton to continue elaborating on his wife's record on women's issues.

"When Hillary was in the White House, she supervised our efforts to number one, let young women who have children out of wedlock live with their parents and still keep all their welfare benefits so that the grandparents can take care of the kids while the women went to school. Number two, led a serious effort to reduce teen pregnancy and we had the lowest teen pregnancy rate since the statistics had been kept when we were doing that. And guess what? Without overturning Roe v. Wade, or trying to keep people all torn up and upset or calling them killers, the abortion rate went down almost 20 percent on our watch."

But the issue wasn't put to bed just yet. Several minutes later, one of the activists shouted, "What about pro-life, Bill?"

A visibly agitated Clinton responded again, his voice growing stern, his language more forceful.

"I gave you the answer. We disagree with you. You want to criminalize women and their doctors and we disagree," he said. "If you were really pro-life, you would want to put every doctor and every mother as an accessory to murder in prison. And you won't say you wanna do that because you know that because you know that you wouldn't have a lick of political support.

And then Clinton related the issue back to his wife: "You can't name me anybody presently in politics that did more to introduce policies that reduce the number of real abortions instead of the hot air putting out to tear people up and make votes by dividing America."

He added a few moments later, "The policies she spearheaded saved a heck of a lot more lives than all the TV ads that were bought and all the hot air that was spread."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue