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Giuliani Tries to Clarify Abortion Stance

"There was never an ounce of doubt for his support for our position on that issue," Conlin said. But when asked during an interview with Fox News last Feb. 5 -- the day he filed his declaration of candidacy for the White House -- where he stood on parental choice, Giuliani said, "I think you have to have a judicial bypass."

When the "partial-birth" issue first arose, Giuliani strongly opposed banning the procedure. He defended then-President Bill Clinton for vetoing a bill barring late-term abortions. As he was getting ready to run for the Senate against Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2000, he refused to change his position on the issue of late-term abortions, though it would have cost him the endorsement of the Conservative Party in New York.

But when the court upheld the ban on the procedure last month, Giuliani's campaign put out a statement that said, "The Supreme Court reached the correct conclusion in upholding the congressional ban on partial birth abortion. I agree with it." He said yesterday, "My position on that evolved."

Giuliani said yesterday that, if he were asked by a friend or relative who was considering an abortion, "I would tell them not to have the abortion, to have the child and if nothing else, the adoption option exists and it's one that I would help you with." Conlin said she recalled a conversation in which Giuliani told her that if his daughter had an unintended pregnancy and wanted an abortion, he would "help her through that."

Conlin described the shift in Giuliani's positions on issues such as public funding and late-term abortions as beyond flip-flopping. "It's like whiplash following his statements on the issue," she said.

In Houston yesterday, Giuliani asked voters to look past abortion in judging his candidacy. As in 1989, when he first learned there was no way to avoid the politically volatile issue, he may find again that, despite his appeal, it will continue to dog his campaign for the GOP nomination.

Moreno reported from Houston. Staff researcher Madonna Lebling contributed to this report.

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