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Tudor Dixon opposes abortion after rape, but Dem attack ads twist her words

tudor dixon
Republican governor candidate Tudor Dixon opposes exceptions for rape in incest for abortions. But a Democratic attack ad goes too far in claiming the rape of a 14-year-old is a ‘perfect example’ of her opposition. (Screenshot)
  • Democratic attack ad blasts GOP governor candidate Tudor Dixon for supporting abortion ban
  • Dixon opposes exceptions for rape or incest but says ‘perfect example’ comment taken out of context
  • Initial interview with Dixon was edited to shorten her response

Oct. 1: Donald Trump touts ‘fantastic’ Michigan Republicans, returns again to 2020
Sept. 13: 
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LANSING — Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon opposes allowing abortion to end pregnancies caused by rape or incest, but an edited video interview and subsequent Democratic attack ad took her controversial comment out of context, according to a Bridge Michigan analysis. 

A 30-second commercial from Put Michigan First, airing across the state as the opening salvo of a $4 million ad campaign, uses Dixon’s own words to highlight her opposition to abortion and support for a statewide ban, a realistic possibility given the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June to overturn Roe v. Wade. 

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The ad includes comments from Dixon’s July interview with Detroit-based podcaster Charlie LeDuff, who asked her if a 14-year-old abused by her uncle should be forced to carry a pregnancy to term. 

“Perfect example,” Dixon said in the interview, as initially published by the No BS Newshour but edited in a way that shortened her response. The clip made national news and opens the new attack ad backed by the Democratic Governors Association, which is working to help re-elect Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. 

The Michigan Democratic Party and other opponents seized on the comment, suggesting Dixon believes incest and rape resulting in the pregnancy of a child is a "perfect example" of why she supports banning abortion. Democrats released a second ad Thursday that includes media coverage of her "perfect example" comment. 

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Dixon, however, has accused the media of publishing“ half a quote” out of context to “push a fake story.” In a social media post, the Norton Shores Republican said she was attempting to argue that potential elimination of parental consent abortion laws could make it harder to catch abusers.

“The question posed was a perfect example of WHY eliminating parental consent for minors endangers children & eliminates a chance for sexual abusers to be caught & prosecuted,” Dixon wrote in an Aug. 5 tweet, repeating a debatable argument that ballot proposal supporters have criticized.

An extended video clip later published by the No BS Newshour confirms that Dixon was not attempting to call the rape of a minor a “perfect example” of why abortion should be illegal, as reported by some media outlets and amplified by Democrats.

Instead, Dixon appeared to be returning to an earlier argument that a potential ballot proposal to enshrine abortion rights in the Michigan Constitution could threaten existing regulations, including the state’s parental consent law, which prohibits physicians from performing abortions for minors under the age of 18 without written permission a parent, legal guardian or court. 

"It changes all our laws in Michigan,” Dixon said in the interview. 

LeDuff then asked her: “So the question would be like, a 14-year-old who, let's say, is the victim of abuse by an uncle. You're saying carry that?”

“Perfect example,” Dixon said, before continuing with an explanation that was initially edited out of the segment: “The way that could be set up is you're protecting that guy, and we gotta get those guys in jail.”

In a subsequent episode of his No BS Newshour, LeDuff defended the decision to edit out that explanation, indicating that Dixon’s response was clipped because she’d pivoted and was not answering the actual question he asked.

He continued to press her on the question of whether a teenage rape victim should be forced to continue the pregnancy: “A life is a life for me,” Dixon said, reiterating her opposition to abortion even in cases involving rape or incest. 

The hypothetical question came just days after a 27-year-old man reportedly confessed to raping a 10-year-old Ohio girl, who had traveled to Indiana to obtain an abortion becaues the procedure had been outlawed in her home state. 

Democratic Governors Association spokesperson Sam Newton stood by the new ad that begins with Dixon’s “perfect example” comment, arguing the Norton Shores Republican is trying to “run from her dangerous plan to ban abortion,” as documented in several other interviews and news reports. 

“The more context there is to Tudor Dixon’s agenda, the more dangerous it gets – and exactly why our ad simply allows Michiganders to hear Dixon in her own words,” Newton told Bridge in a statement. 

Dixon, in a statement provided through her campaign, argued that Whitmer is the one with “extreme” and “radical” positions on abortion because she supports a ballot initiative that abortion foes contend could invalidate existing restrictions. 

“Gretchen Whitmer wants this election to be about anything but rising prices, spiking crime, underperforming schools and roads that are no better than when she took office,” Dixon said. “Those issues are what I’m running to address. I’m not going to let her change the subject with political hypothetical and rhetoric.”

Abortion is poised to be a major issue in the November general election after the U.S. Supreme Court in June overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that had guaranteed a federal right to abortion.

While Michigan has an old abortion ban on the books, the procedure remains legal here, at least for the time being. 

Amid a larger legal fight, courts have temporarily blocked enforcement of the 1931 law that would make it a felony for physicians to end a pregnancy unless an abortion is necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman. 

Whitmer has promised to “fight like hell” to protect abortion rights and has requested the Michigan Supreme Court to strike down the 91-year-old law as part of a lawsuit she filed in Oakland County Circuit Court. 

Dixon supports the abortion ban. Asked whether she favors any exceptions, Dixon last year told reporters “no exceptions” – a clip also documented in the new ad — but has since said she supports an exception for the life of the mother. 

Dixon initially defended her comments in the LeDuff interview, saying she is “not hiding” from her opposition to abortion and belief that “we should have the courage… to let unborn children be born.”

Voters could ultimately decide the fate of legal abortion in Michigan this fall. 

Reproductive Freedom For All last month submitted more than 750,000 voter signatures for a proposal to amend the Michigan Constitution and guarantee the right to legal abortion across the state. Whitmer has said she signed the petition.

If those signatures are certified by the Board of State Canvassers, the measure will appear on the November ballot.

It's not immediately clear if the proposal would invalidate Michigan's existing parental consent law, as Dixon suggested. 

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Opponents say it would, while legal scholars have offered different interpretations, and the question could ultimately be decided by in court if voters approve the measure.

Regardless, supporters of legal abortion have disputed Dixon’s argument that the ballot proposal could make it harder to catch and prosecute rapists. 

“Survivors of sexual violence have already had their right to control what happens to their body violated,” said Ashlea Phenicie, director of communications for Planend Parenthood of Michigan.

“Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban — which Dixon supports — would violate that right again, forcing the survivor to carry a pregnancy to term and give birth against their will. Further traumatizing survivors and blocking them from accessing health care is not justice. Our legal system is equipped to prosecute perpetrators of sexual violence without stripping survivors of their fundamental rights.”

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