Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, currently running for re-election, has said that a pregnant woman infected with the Zika virus should not be allowed to have an abortion, despite the risk of microcephaly or other birth defects.
Rubio, whose presidential bid ended in March, hails from Miami, where the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a historic travel warning due to Zika last week. The anti-choice Republican made the comments in a weekend interview with Politico.
"I understand a lot of people disagree with my view," he said, "but I believe that all human life is worthy of protection of our laws. And when you present it in the context of Zika or any prenatal condition, it's a difficult question and a hard one. But if I'm going to err, I'm going to err on the side of life."
"Obviously, microcephaly is a terrible prenatal condition that kids are born with," he continued. "And when they are, it's a lifetime of difficulties. So I get it. I'm not pretending to you that that’s an easy question you asked me. But I'm pro-life. And I'm strongly pro-life. I believe all human life should be protected by our law, irrespective of the circumstances or condition of that life."
Rubio's Democratic opponent, South Florida Rep. Patrick Murphy, condemned the stance in a statement to reporters. "Zika is most dangerous for women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, yet Marco Rubio still opposes a woman's right to make her own health decisions," he said. "It's clear that Marco Rubio will always put his ideology above women's health care—and our families deserve better."
And Rubio's position, especially seen alongside his push to repeal the Affordable Care Act, drew fire online.
Marco Rubio would ban women with Zika from abortions, says "I get it" about "lifetime of difficulties," but wants to repeal ACA. What a man.
— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) August 7, 2016
But that baby with microcephaly I forced you to have does not get free healthcare
Rubio: No abortions for Zika... https://t.co/EgzVWC9xgg
— Ryan Nicolas (@RyanRNicolas) August 7, 2016
— Cecile Richards (@CecileRichards) August 8, 2016
As progressive Florida blogger Martha Jackovics wrote on Sunday:
Rubio isn't just a pro-life hypocrite when it comes to abortion. He's also a pro-life hypocrite when it comes to health care. He's a proud member of the Let's Kill Obamacare Club, and he hails from a Republican controlled state that not only tried to make Obamacare harder to get, but which also said no to Medicaid. (The same Governor Rick Scott, who had a hand in all of the above, also tried to kill Planned Parenthood in Florida. He also cut funding to mosquito control when he first got into office, because it was one of the evils of "Big Government." Those mosquitos are now spreading the Zika virus to pregnant women in Florida, because freedom!)
While Rubio is busy proclaiming to anyone who will listen that he's "erring on the side of life," he conveniently leaves out the fact that those women infected with Zika he's demanding give birth to babies who will be born with microcephaly will be in dire need of health care. So much health care in fact, that the CDC can't even begin to calculate the potentially staggering costs yet.
"So while Rubio would 'prefer to err on the side of life' merely to score a few votes and political points among the anti-abortion types, the anti-Obamacare, and the say no to Medicaid types, he'll never have to face the real life consequences those lives he wants to play God with will," she wrote. "Nope. Rubio wants to score votes and political points and play with people's lives just so he can go back to the Senate job he admits he hates."