Republican senator Tom Cotton has suggested that he believes a foetus has constitutional rights.
Cotton discussed abortion at length on Meet the Press with host Chuck Todd. During the segment, he stated that he believes that life begins at conception and repeatedly criticised "unelected judges" of the supreme court for allowing the procedure across the US without “democratic debate”.
Existing abortion precedents, won through the supreme court, were in Cotton's eyes "wrongly decided as a constitutional matter”. He argues that instead these decisions should be made by the American people on a state by state basis through their elected representatives.
Abortion has been in the spotlight lately as Alabama and Georgia have passed strict laws which effectively ban abortion.
Colton asked Todd:
When do you believe a fetus has constitutional rights?
To which he responded:
Like a lot of folks here in Arkansas, I'm pro-life and I think a basic responsibility of government in a civilised society is to protect innocent life.
What I'm most proud of here in Arkansas is that we have recognised that the frontiers of medical science are being pushed back.
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.
Cotton then claimed, without evidence, that a "vast majority of Americans" are opposed to abortion. In fact, public opinion hasn’t changed much in the last two decades, with the most recent Pew Research Center data showing 58 per cent of Americans think abortion should be legal in most situations, while approximately 37 per cent say it should be illegal in most cases. Of course, support varies state by state, but nationwide it appears that a majority of Americans are actually pro-choice.