Tim Scott Fumbles Abortion Questions After Announcing Possible Presidential Bid

The South Carolina Republican won't say if he supports a national abortion ban.

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) might be running for president and might favor a national ban on abortion in the early stages of pregnancy, but he won’t say.

This week Scott announced a presidential exploratory committee and fielded questions from reporters but avoided giving definitive answers about whether he’d support a total ban on abortion or a 15-week ban.

“I would simply say that the fact of the matter is when you look at the issue of abortion, of the challenges that we have is we continue to go to the most restrictive conversations without broadening the scope and taking a look at the fact that ― I’m 100% pro-life, I’ll never walk away from that,” Scott told Newsmax TV in New Hampshire on Thursday.

Scott then brought up a May 2022 Senate Banking Committee hearing with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who had testified that banning abortion would hurt the economy because fewer women would be able to hold jobs. Scott called it the “wrong conversation.”

In a separate clip posted online by CBS News on Wednesday, Scott was asked if, as president, he would support banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, per a proposal by his colleague, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

“I would say this: I am certainly 100% pro-life, without any question,” Scott said. “I do think we spend not enough time understanding how far the far left has gone on the issue of abortion.”

Scott avoided directly answering a follow-up question, instead lamenting Democratic support for late-term abortions. He also brought up the Yellen hearing, which he said “stunned” him.

The senator was less evasive this week when asked about a 20-week abortion ban, an idea he and most Senate Republicans have previously supported. “Twenty-week ban, definitely,” he told WMUR in New Hampshire.

Scott was not one of the nine cosponsors of Graham’s 15-week bill, which he introduced last year after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that guaranteed a federal right to abortion nationwide. Last year’s reversal resulted in near-total abortion bans in more than a dozen states.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ― one of Scott’s likely opponents for the Republican presidential nomination ― is set to sign a six-week ban into law pending its passage by the Florida Legislature.

The Supreme Court’s decision prompted Yellen to discuss abortion at the Senate Banking Committee last year.

“Roe v. Wade and access to reproductive health care, including abortion, helped lead to increased labor force participation and enabled many women to finish school. That increased their earning potential,” Yellen testified. “It allowed women to plan and balance their families and careers. And research also shows that it has a favorable impact on the well-being and earnings of children.”

Scott, a panel member, recalled initially watching the hearing from his office but then making his way to the committee room to confront Yellen.

“Are you actually saying that a mom like mine should have an abortion so that we increase the labor force participation rate?” Scott recalled saying at the hearing. “That just seems ridiculous to me.”

At the time, he said Yellen’s remarks about how abortion affects labor force participation seemed “callous.”

“Well, I certainly don’t mean to say what I think the effects are in a manner that’s harsh,” Yellen responded, adding that allowing women to regulate their reproduction lets them live more fulfilling lives. And she noted that younger women, “particularly low-income and often Black,” have unexpected pregnancies that disrupt their education and future career prospects.

“There is a spillover into labor force participation... and it means the children will grow up in poverty and do worse themselves,” Yellen said. “This is not harsh. This is the truth.”

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