I’ve heard people describe Charlie Crist as “pro-choice” and others describe him as “anti-choice” when it comes to Reproductive Rights. The truth is somewhere in between as it was for many partisan, yet moderately inclined Republicans in 1990s, an era when the Christian Coalition was ascendant in legislative and congressional elections. Many Republicans from urban areas referred to themselves as “pro-choice” yet cast a large number of votes against women’s health and reproductive rights. Charlie Crist fit this profile.
As Crist was posturing to run for US Senate in 1998 he began to take more and more cues in his talking points from the Florida Christian Coalition. His voting record became virtually indistinguishable from religious conservatives in the Senate during the 1997 and 1998 Legislative sessions. He stopped referring to himself as pro-choice. Once the GOP nomination was secured (without opposition) Crist again began calling himself “pro-choice.”
In 2002, Crist would play the same game in the race for Attorney General. Strongly implying he was anti-choice in the GOP Primary (he was running against two pro-choice Republicans, though much of the party establishment lined up with senator Locke Burt who while openly pro-choice was also substantially more conservative on fiscal issues than Crist…the other Republican, Tom Warner was a moderate across the board) and then running left on the issue when facing Buddy Dyer in November.
In 2006, Crist began marching towards a hard line anti-choice position by saying while he was still pro-choice “I would rather encourage adoption. I would prefer not to change law, I would rather change hearts,” according to the Associated Press. This matched the drift of other formerly pro-choice Republicans, and formerly anti-choice Democrats like Harry Reid, Dick Gephardt and David Bonior in the 2000s towards the established positions of their parties.
By early 2010 Crist was “strongly pro-family and pro-life and has made these issues a priority throughout his career of public service,” according to his Senate Campaign which at the time was taking on water against hard-line conservative Marco Rubio who had zero ambiguity on the issue. Crist’s Campaign statement was false as the statements below will demonstrate. Not only had Crist given lip service to being pro-choice but he actually had a number of pro-choice votes in his legislative career.
As Charlie Crist approaches the 2014 campaign, he will no doubt adopt a hard-line pro-choice position. Again his record is somewhere in between pro-choice and anti-choice. Like so many other issues, Crist has shifted for convenience based on his opposition and the political landscape at the time.
“I am pro-choice, but not pro-abortion. I believe that a woman has the right to choose, but would prefer only after careful consideration and consultation with her family, her physician, and her clergy; not her government.”
– Charlie Crist on Choice in 1998 (St. Petersburg Times)
• 1994: Crist Supported Abortion Right. According to the St. Petersburg Times in 1994, Senator Charlie Crist supported a womanʼs right to chose. According to the article, Crist supported the right of women to have abortions but was against government funding of them. Also, Crist would ʻprobably” support a law requiring parental consent before having an abortion. (St. Petersburg Times, 10/ 09/94)
• 1995: Crist Sided with Democrats on Vote for Abortion Waiting Periods. According to the St. Petersburg Times in 1995, State Senator Charlie Crist lined with Democrats in voting against a bill calling for a 24-hour waiting period and counseling for women seeking an abortion. The bill failed the Senate Health Care Committee after a 3-3 tied vote. According to the article, “Sen. Charlie Crist, R-St. Petersburg, crossed party lines to vote with Democrats on the committee against a bill that had heavy support from abortion opponents.” Crist: “I generally donʼt like the government telling people what to do. I believe in individual rights and freedom. Thatʼs why Iʼm a Republican.” [St. Pe- tersburg Times, 04/19/95]
• 1996: Crist Voted For 24 Hour Abortion Waiting Period But With Age Restricted Amendment. According to the St. Petersburg Times in 1996, Senator Charlie Crist voted in favor of a bill requiring young women to wait 24 hours and obtain counseling before getting an abortion. However, Crist also offered an amendment that restricted the bill to women younger than 18.The legislation, voted in the Senate Health Care Committee, was approved with a 5-3 vote. According to the article, Crist favors a woman’s right to choose abortion but said it is appropriate to be sure that minors are adequately counseled. [St. Petersburg Times, 03/29/96]
• 1997: Crist Voted For Ban On “Partial-Birth” Abortions. According to the St. Petersburg Times in 2005, Senator Charlie Crist voted for a ban on so-called “partial-birth” abortion procedures [in 1997]. [St. Petersburg Times, 3/3/05] • 1998: Crist Opposed Constitutional Amendment Banning Abortion. According to the Palm Beach Post in 1998, Charlie Crist said, “no” when asked, “Do you favor a constitutional amendment to ban abortion?” [Palm Beach Post, 11/01/98]
• 1998: Crist: “I Am Pro-choice.” According to the St. Petersburg Times in 2005, Charlie Crist ad- mitted that he was pro-choice in a 1998 St. Petersburg Times questionnaire. Crist: “I am pro-choice, but not pro-abortion. I believe that a woman has the right to choose, but would prefer only after careful consideration and consultation with her family, her physician, and her clergy; not her government.” [St. Petersburg Times, 3/3/05]
• NARAL Pro-Choice America: Crist Is A “Mixed Choice” Politician. According to the St. Peters- burg Times in 2005, NARAL Pro-Choice America labeled Charlie Crist a “mixed choice” politician. [St. Petersburg Times, 3/3/05]
Crist in Nov. 2009: “I’m Pro-Life;” Paper Notes He Voted Against Abortion Restrictions On Nov. 24, 2009, the St. Petersburg Times reported that in a sit down with its editorial board, Crist stated, “It’s hard to be more conservative than I am on issues — there’s different ways stylistically to communicate that — I’m pro-life, I’m pro-gun, I’m pro-family and I’m anti-tax. I don’t know what else you’re supposed to be, except maybe angry too.” The Times went on to add, however, that Crist “as a state legislator voted against abortion restrictions.” [St. Petersburg Times, 11/24/2009]