Sen. Tom Coburn (R.-Okla.) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D.-Ill.) are on a crash course over Coburn’s remarks today about Durbin’s changing his mind about abortion — starting life as a pro-lifer and today being one of the most ardent supporters of abortion in the Senate.
Here’s what Coburn said today:
“But I want to put forward, for 45 years, Senator Durbin was adamantly pro-life and he wrote multiple, multiple letters expressing that up until 1989. He is a very strong advocate for the abortion stance and a free right to choose. But I think it’s important that the American people – that if he has the ability to change his mind on something he wrote in 1989, certainly you have the ability to say something was inaptly put.”
“And so this is just Senator Durbin. I’m teasing him a little bit. But I think it’s important that people recognize people can change their mind.”
“I continue to believe the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade should be reversed. There are other members on the other that are adamantly pro-abortion, pro-the destruction of human life today, that have changed their mind, changed their position. So it’s hard to be critical of you on something in 1985, have written something, when many of us have backtracked on things that we’ve said through the years.”
“And so I think it puts a little bit of perspective into where we’re going.”
Before breaking for lunch, Durbin criticized Coburn, and if it weren’t for Chairman Arlen Specter’s intervention, would have launched his rebuttal.
Durbin has vowed to revisit the issue. Stay tuned.
UPDATE — 5:03 p.m.: Here’s what Durbin’s staff has said in response to Coburn.
"Sen. Durbin reconsidered his position on abortion after meeting with victims of rape and incest and weighing the implications of making all abortions illegal. Sen. Durbin has always been forthright about his thinking on the subject and has made his position clear to the voters over the course of more than 12 elections. In contrast, Judge Alito has not made clear whether or not he still stands by his 1985 job applications to the Reagan Justice Department," said Joe Shoemaker, Communications Director.