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Independent Utah Senate hopeful Evan McMullin struggled to explain his change in opinion on Roe v. Wade Sunday as the landmark abortion decision could soon be overturned.
MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan asked McMullin, who is hoping to unseat Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, how someone who was staunchly anti-abortion in 2016 and describes himself as pro-life could come out in recent days and say that he opposed overturning Roe v. Wade following the leak of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion.
Evan McMullin talks to the press as he campaigns for president in Salt Lake City, Utah, October 12, 2016. REUTERS/George Frey/File Photo (REUTERS/George Frey/File Photo)
McMullin released a statement after the draft leaked and said if Roe is overturned “some states will immediately enact extreme laws, such as total bans on abortion, onerous limits on birth control, and criminalization of women in desperate situations. I oppose those laws.”
McMullin ran as a conservative alternative to Donald Trump in 2016 but was a reliably liberal voice on MSNBC during the Trump administration and is being supported by Utah’s Democratic Party in his challenge to Lee. He won 21 percent of the vote in Utah in 2016 but only 0.5 percent nationally.
He said Sunday he was “committed to the sanctity of life” but that it meant the lives of women, children and the unborn.
Sen. Mike Lee., R-Utah, arrives for the confirmation hearing of Amy Coney Barrett before Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Oct. 12, 2020. (Win McNamee/Pool via AP)
“I think we’ve got to take a more comprehensive approach to that. This tug of war over the laws, we see extremist laws being passed around the country,” McMullin said, adding that the tug of war might never end if this continues to be the approach. “It’s going to create a public health crisis.”
As McMullin went on, Hasan interrupted and asked him to clarify whether he supports overturning Roe v. Wade and McMullin said, “I do not think that that is the way for the country to move forward on this issue.” McMullin later said he would vote against a national abortion ban if he were to unseat Lee and such a bill was presented in the Senate.
A crowd of people gather outside the Supreme Court, Monday night, May 2, 2022 in Washington following reports of a leaked draft opinion by the court overturning Roe v. Wade. (AP Photo/Anna Johnson)
Politico first reported Alito’s leaked draft opinion, which signaled that the conservative majority in the court was getting ready to overturn Roe v. Wade in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case.
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Alito wrote in the leaked draft. “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”