Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Attempts to Walk Back His Latest Comments in Support of ‘Full-Term’ Abortion

AP Photo/Josh Reynolds

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., raised eyebrows last week when he seemingly endorsed late-term abortions, and now the independent presidential candidate is attempting to walk those comments back.

On Tuesday’s show, Megyn was joined by the hosts of Ruthless – Josh Holmes, Comfortably Smug, Michael Duncan, and John Ashbrook – to discuss Kennedy’s about face and what it means for his 2024 campaign.

RFK Jr. on Abortion

During an interview with Sage Steele on her new podcast, Kennedy was asked about his position on abortion. While he said “every abortion is a tragedy,” he added that he does not “trust” the government to have “jurisdiction over people’s bodies.”

When Steele pressed on whether or not there should be a limit on when women can end a pregnancy, Kennedy said he does not believe there are any situations in which someone would choose to abort a full-term pregnancy but, regardless, those decisions should be made by the woman, not the government. 

Steele followed-up more than once to clarify that Kennedy was, indeed, voicing his support for full-term abortion, which he explicitly confirmed:

KENNEDY: You know, I think with abortion, every abortion is a tragedy… And I think, ultimately, I don’t trust government to have jurisdiction over people’s bodies. I think we need to leave it to the woman… Something like close to 60 percent of abortions are among women who make the decision for economic reasons, and I think we need to do everything we can to make sure that women who want to bring their babies to term and are just scared of not being able to afford them, that that is never a consideration…

STEELE: Should there be a limit or you’re saying all the way up through full term a woman has a right to have an abortion?

KENNEDY: Yeah, I mean, I don’t think any woman ever, ever in history has said, ‘I’m going to have a baby. I mean, I am going to get pregnant, and carry that baby to eight months term, and then I’m going to terminate the pregnancy’… But again, I come down to the fact that I don’t trust the state, and I think we need to trust the woman…

STEELE: Even if it’s full term?

KENNEDY: Even if it’s full term.

Shortly after the sit-down with Kennedy, Steele interviewed his running mate Nicole Shanahan who expressed surprise at what he had said about his stance on abortion. “That is not Bobby’s position, as I understand it,” she said. “I think, maybe there was a miscommunication there.”

Megyn said there was no ambiguity from Kennedy. “Sage Steele understood him perfectly,” she noted. “He was very clear on the record about it, and his vice presidential candidate had no clue what his position was on the merits.”

The About Face

Amid backlash, Kennedy released a lengthy statement on X to clarify his remarks. He reiterated he has always been “a medical freedom advocate” and trusts “women’s maternal instincts,” but he admitted he was wrong in his “assumption” about late-term abortion. 

“Sometimes, women abort healthy, viable late-term fetuses,” he wrote, in part. “These cases of purely ‘elective’ late-term abortion are very upsetting. Once the baby is viable outside the womb, it should have rights and it deserves society’s protection.”

It is not the first time RFK has had to walk back comments on the topic. During an interview with NBC News last summer, he said he would be in favor of a federal abortion ban at 15 or 21 weeks. His campaign later put out a statement saying he “misunderstood” the question.

Will It Matter?

As experts debate whether Kennedy’s run does more damage to Donald Trump or Joe Biden, it remains to be seen how flip-flops like this impact his support. 

Holmes thinks Kennedy is trying to appeal to right-of-center voters, but he believes his record speaks for itself. “I am not doubting whether he has convictions on vaccines or what have you,” he said. “But there is not somebody breathing air that for 30 years during his professional career was further to the left than RFK, and the idea that you somehow now run for president with this appeal to disaffected voters in the center of the electorate is nuts to me. I just think it is all fraud.”

While Ashbrook was inclined to agree, he still thinks there is a swath of voters on both sides of the aisle who are looking for an alternative. “I think that he is going to get more votes than people expect because there is such a strong desire out there for a different type of candidate than the two that people were given,” he concluded. “A lot of people are just interested in something else and that is kind of what he is.”

You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Ruthless by tuning in to episode 791 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.