Republican congressional candidate Frank Pallotta flipped his view on abortion twice today, first saying that he would not support a national abortion ban in Congress and then a few hours later announcing that he would vote for a 20-week abortion ban and a Human Life Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
During the GOP primary in the spring, Pallotta made it clear he opposed abortion, proudly touting an endorsement from the anti-abortion group New Jersey Right to Life and stating in a questionnaire that he believes “life begins at conception.”
After Roe v. Wade was overturned in June, Pallotta issued a statement praising the Supreme Court’s decision and comparing the views of his opponent, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff), to supporting “legalized manslaughter.”
This morning, however, Pallotta seemed to soften that stance. He said he was a “pro-life candidate with exceptions of rape, incest, and life of the mother,” but also said the issue of abortion legality should be left up to the states.
“I’ve already stood up and said I would not follow a federal ban on abortion, for the same reason I agreed with overturning Roe v. Wade,” Pallotta said after a press gaggle with other GOP congressional candidates. “It should be held to the state level. You can’t stand up and say, Roe v. Wade shouldn’t be at the federal level, and then have an abortion ban be at the federal level.”
“I would definitely not vote for a federal ban on abortion,” he declared.
But that, too, was quickly walked back. Pallotta released another statement this afternoon clarifying that he did, in fact, support federal legislation to ban abortion: specifically, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which makes abortion unlawful after 20 weeks.
“Unlike my opponent who supports abortion without restrictions right up to the moment of birth, I am pro-life and support the Human Life Amendment,” Pallotta said. “I also would support common sense federal legislation based on science, like the Pain Capable Abortion Ban, which would prohibit abortion when the unborn baby can feel pain.”
The return to his initial stance has placated New Jersey Right to Life; Marie Tasy, the group’s executive director, said she was satisfied with Pallotta’s clarification.
But the double reversal may complicate Pallotta’s bid for the 5th congressional district, where voters lean towards Democrats and are likely more supportive of abortion access than Pallotta is.
Gottheimer, a three-term Democrat, has readily used Pallotta’s abortion views against him in the general election campaign. Just this morning, Gottheimer began airing a new abortion-focused TV ad that highlighted Pallotta’s “manslaughter” comments and called him an extremist.