Fact Check

RFK Jr. Endorsed Full-Term Abortions During May 2024 Podcast Interview?

The independent presidential candidate discussed his abortion policy in an interview with former ESPN host Sage Steele.

Published May 10, 2024

RFK Jr. at a presidential campaign rally on April 28, 2024, in Holbrook, Long Island, New York. ( Getty Images)
RFK Jr. at a presidential campaign rally on April 28, 2024, in Holbrook, Long Island, New York. (Image courtesy of Getty Images)
Claim:
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said he supported full-term abortions during a podcast interview with former ESPN host Sage Steele in early May 2024.

On May 9, 2024, right-wing political activist Charlie Kirk posted a video on X allegedly showing independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. expressing his support for full-term abortions during a podcast interview with former ESPN host Sage Steele.

In the footage, Steele asked Kennedy whether the overturning of Roe v. Wade should be upheld so individual states retain the right to determine if, and when, a woman can have an abortion.

"I wouldn't leave it to the states," Kennedy said, adding: "We should leave it to the woman. We shouldn't have government involved."

Steele then asked if that would still apply for full-term abortions, to which Kennedy replied: "Even if it's full-term."

Posting the video on X, Kirk wrote: 

Here is RFK Jr. affirming his commitment to China-style full-term abortion, without limits, nationwide:

RFK: "I believe we should leave it to the woman, we shouldn't have the government involved."

STEELE: "Even if it's full term?"

RFK: "Even if it's full term."

Similar posts could be seen elsewhere on X, TikTokReddit and across Facebook. Together the posts had amassed more than 2.6 million views at the time of this writing. Numerous news outlets reported on Kennedy's abortion comments, such as CNN, NBC News and Fox News.

The video posted by Kirk and numerous social media users was real and unmanipulated, which is why we have rated the claim that RFK Jr. made this remark as "Correct Attribution." The clip appeared on a podcast episode of the "The Sage Steele Show" at timestamp 1:07:37

Historically, Kennedy has made contradictory statements about his views on abortion. For example, in August 2023, he said "I believe a decision to abort a child should be up to the women during the first three months of life," according to Politico. "Once a child is viable outside the womb," he said, "I think then the state has an interest in protecting the child." His campaign later said he had misunderstood the question asked, and released this statement to The Washington Post: 

Mr. Kennedy supports a woman's right to choose. He believes the issue of late-term abortions is being used to artificially divide the American public. Practically speaking, these are exceedingly rare, and almost always done in situations of medical emergency. While they are both tragic and disturbing, Mr. Kennedy believes it is not up to the government to intervene in these difficult medical and moral choices. That should be left up to the woman and her doctor.

According to data from the CDC, fewer than 1% of abortions take place in the 21st week of pregnancy or later.

Sources

Kortsmit, Katherine. "Abortion Surveillance — United States, 2021." MMWR. Surveillance Summaries, vol. 72, 2023. www.cdc.gov, https://doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.ss7209a1.

Lee, Dan MacGuill, Jessica. 'Live Fact-Checking Updates: US Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade'. Snopes, 24 June 2022, https://www.snopes.com//news/2022/06/24/dobbs-supreme-court-roe-wade/.

McKend, Eva. 'RFK Jr. Says He's against Government Limits on Abortion | CNN Politics'. CNN, 9 May 2024, https://www.cnn.com/2024/05/09/politics/robert-f-kennedy-jr-abortion-limits/index.html.

'Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Appears to Surprise His Running Mate with His Position on Abortion'. NBC News, 9 May 2024, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2024-election/robert-f-kennedy-jr-surprise-running-mate-abortion-position-rcna151344.

Sage Steele Podcast. Robert Kennedy Jr. | The Sage Steele Show. 2024. YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovu7Hu1oEiQ.

Wulfsohn, Joseph. 'RFK Jr. Says He Supports Abortion "Even If It's Full Term"'. Fox News, 9 May 2024, https://www.foxnews.com/media/rfk-jr-says-supports-abortion-even-full-term.

Nick Hardinges is a London-based reporter who previously worked as a fact-checker at Reuters.