Garrett Soldano argues against abortion in situations involving rape

Garrett Soldano, one of the Republican candidates to be Michigan's next governor, voiced opposition last month to women having abortions after becoming pregnant through rape.

Soldano's comments on a January "Face the Facts" podcast gained national attention Tuesday and spurred criticism from Democrats as lawmakers ponder what could unfold if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that created a woman's right to have an abortion.

Garrett Soldano, chiropractor and Republican gubernatorial hopeful sits for a photo during a media interview in his home office in Mattawan, MI on October 29, 2021.

The conservative Mattawan chiropractor said one of his mentors had looked up his birth family and discovered his birth mother had been gang raped but "she had the courage to deliver him." Soldano said he hopes that women would "recognize that God put them in this moment."

"How about we start inspiring women in the culture to let them understand and know how heroic they are and how unbelievable they are that God put them in this moment, and they don’t know that little baby inside them may be the next president, maybe the next person who changes humanity," Soldano said in the podcast interview.

The interview had been highlighted on social media by Heartland Signal, a digital newsroom anchored to the progressive radio station WCPT 820AM in Chicago, according to its website.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the video had 695,000 views.

Michigan's incumbent governor, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, retorted in a Tuesday tweet by saying, "abortion is a fundamental right. I will stand in the way of any attack on Michiganders' ability to access that care."

Laphonza Butler, president of EMILY’s List, which seeks to get Democratic pro-choice women elected to political office, called Soldano’s comments "outrageous." 

"Garrett Soldano’s defense of forcing rape survivors to carry their attacker’s child is a disgusting, dangerous attack on women’s control over our own bodies and our own lives," Butler said in a Tuesday statement. "A decade ago, Republican candidates making similar statements about rape survivors were roundly condemned and defeated. Nonetheless, men like Garrett Soldano and his party continue to try to control women in the face of overwhelming public support for the right to choose."

Butler said that with the Roe v. Wade "under threat at the Supreme Court, the stakes have never been higher."An abortion rights coalition called Reproductive Freedom for All last month launched a ballot initiative that would amend the Michigan Constitution to  "explicitly affirm" reproductive rights, including abortion. 

The proposed constitutional amendment would override a 1931 Michigan law that makes it a felony to administer medicine or use "any instrument" to produce a miscarriage. The law is set to take full effect in Michigan if the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Right to Life of Michigan and the Michigan Catholic Conference have vowed to fight the initiative if it gains enough valid signatures to go on the November ballot. Right to Light said it would continue to fight to uphold and respect "the humanity of the unborn," while a spokeswoman for the Catholic Conference said it was "a sad commentary on the outsized and harmful role the abortion industry plays in our politics and state."

Soldano is among a field of more than 10 candidates who are exploring a run for the Republican nomination, including Metro Detroit businessman Kevin Rinke and former Detroit police chief James Craig. Although he trails Rinke and Craig in total fundraising, Soldano had the highest number of contributions among the GOP candidates from Oct. 21 through Dec. 31 at 6,086.

Soldano gained attention as the first candidate to air the first television ad of the 2022 Republican primary race for governor during the October 2021 football game between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University.

He stood by his podcast comments on Tuesday, saying in a Facebook video that he will always stand for life.

"Michigan state law protects life," Soldano said in a statement. "As governor, I will oppose any liberal efforts to expand abortion, and I will not be bullied by anyone over my beliefs."