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Hannity

Rick Santorum and Al Sharpton Face Off Over Abortion, Race

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," January 24, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is getting mixed reaction from people on the right and left over comments that he made in a recent interview with Terry Jeffrey from CNSNews.com. Now, Santorum was asked if a fetus in the womb has a right to life from the moment of conception. This was the former senator's response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FORMER SENATOR SANTORUM, R-PA.: When Barack Obama is asked, you know, "Is a child in the womb a human life?" "Oh, it's above my pay grade." Just about everything else in the world he's willing to do, to have the government do, but he can't answer that basic question which is not a -- which is not a debatable issue at all. I don't think you'll find a biologist in the world who will say that that is not human life.

Question is, and this is what Barack Obama didn't want to answer, is that -- is that human a person under the Constitution? And Barack Obama says no. Well, if that person -- human life is not a person, then I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say that we are going to decide who are people and who are not people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: And joining me now to react is the man himself, former Pennsylvania senator, Rick Santorum.

And also with us from the National Action Network is Reverend Al Sharpton.

Guys, good to see you both. Thanks for being here.

Are you surprised at the reaction?

SANTORUM: Yes, I'm surprised at the reaction. I mean, basically, what I was saying is that we saw for the first -- more than 100 years in this country, when we denied personhood to human life in the form of black people in America and it took the 14th Amendment of the Constitution to bestow personhood under the Constitution and full constitutional protection to blacks in America.

And, now, the Supreme Court, 100 years later, 1973, says they're going to use that same 14th Amendment that granted personhood and they're going to say that this group of people, human life in the womb, is going to be denied personhood. And my said, my comment was that Barack Obama should be sensitive, more so than probably most people -- as a civil rights and constitutional lawyer, should be sensitive to how we define people in the Constitution.

HANNITY: Yes.

All right. Reverend Al, are you pro-life?

REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: I think that in response to what he said --

HANNITY: He just went right my over my question, I love it. Are you pro-life? Let me respond to what he said.

SHARPTON: Oh, that's what I'm here to do.

HANNITY: OK.

SHARPTON: You did not say that President Obama, as a constitutional lawyer or a civil rights lawyer, should be sensitive. You said as a black

--

SANTORUM: Yes.

SHARPTON: -- which brought race in, which had, in my opinion, no reason at all to bring race into an argument that is a constitutional argument. And that is an argument about where life starts. Blacks were not considered 3/5 of a human being because there was a debate about their humanity, because if they were 80 years old or a fetus they were considered less than human. The debate around pro-life, pro-choice is whether or not scientists and others, going before the court, determines where life starts.

That was not the debate with blacks. It didn't matter where life started or what point we were in life. We were considered less than human.

And to equate the two is, in my opinion, certainly --

SANTORUM: OK. Well, let me ask you this question, Reverend Al, if the child in the womb is not human life.

SHARPTON: That's not the debate. The debate is --

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: -- that is the debate. That's different.

SHARPTON: You tried to use -- you tried to use how blacks were dehumanized at any age and equate that with the argument that is before the American public and the courts. And that is not -- that does not fit.

SANTORUM: You just said the difference between the debate over slavery and the debate over abortion is the question of whether we're talking about a human life or not. That's just what you just said.

SHARPTON: No. I said there's a debate over where human life starts.

SANTORUM: OK.

SHARPTON: There was no debate over where blacks' life started.

SANTORUM: Which is -- which is what I just said.

SHARPTON: The debate was blacks that at any age, they didn't say blacks that hadn't started a heartbeat yet or blacks that didn't have lungs yet. Any black, any age, at any stage --

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: Was denied personhood -- was denied person of a person under the Constitution.

SHARPTON: They were 3/5 of a human, at any age.

SANTORUM: They were denied rights under the Constitution.

SHARPTON: Is that what we're debating here? Are we saying that somebody that is born or unborn is only 3/5 human? It is not the same thing.

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: Let's throw something else into the mix here. Because I think this is important. The Guttmacher Institute, which I don't support, which compiles reproductive health status, they say black women abort their children at five times the rate of whites in America, twice the Hispanic rate. The rate is 11 abortions per 1,000 women, white women, 28 for every 1,000 Hispanics, and 50 for every 1,000 black women. Much higher rate, five times greater than the white community.

So, there is a racial component in that sense because the percentage in the black community is that much higher.

SHARPTON: Again, I think -- if we are talking about the senator's comment, that is -- none of that is what he debated. What I'm trying to get him to say and we can go on and talk about pro-life, pro-choice, is that he should acknowledge that those that the thing -- the comparison he made in the statement is not an appropriate comparison.

SANTORUM: OK. Well, let me get to that. I'm not going to acknowledge that. And the reason -- well, hold on, because you've had your chance talk, now give me mine.

SHARPTON: Fine.

SANTORUM: You look at the child in the womb and you say there's a debate on whether that's a human life. Reverend Sharpton, there is no debate. That entity, at the moment of conception is alive and it is genetically human. You were that entity at some point. He was that entity, everybody was that entity. It is a human life.

The question is, according to Justice Blackmun, read the Supreme Court case, is not whether that's a human life or not -- that maybe your question. But that's a biology question. You talk to any biology teacher, you bring them in here, they will tell you the same thing -- that is a human life. The question the Justice Blackmun posed was whether that is a person. And that, Reverend Sharpton, is exact argument that was made on slavery.

SHARPTON: That is an exact distortion of what you said, because we're not debating whether or not blacks, which you brought up, not me sir, when you brought up the president should be sensitive because he was black.

SANTORUM: That's right.

SHARPTON: We're not debating whether or not at any stage blacks were human. We were debating that all blacks. There wasn't even a debate. It was law that all blacks at any stage, at any age, were less than human.

SANTORUM: That's right.

SHARPTON: To equate that --

SANTORUM: And it was wrong. It was a great wrong.

SHARPTON: It was wrong and it was two different things.

SANTORUM: No it's not two different things.

SHARPTON: We're not talking here about -- there are scientists that say that life starts at conception. There are others say when the fetus is formed and when there's a brain and when there's a heart. There was no such debate around --

HANNITY: We got to take a break here. One of the questions I want to ask both when we get back here is the intention of Senator Santorum's comments -- were they not meant to help save the lives of innocent unborn? And especially --

SANTORUM: Particularly as you mentioned in the black community where there is --

SHARPTON: He should have said that. But that's not what he said.

HANNITY: Hang on, we'll give you a chance, I promise.

All right. We'll have more with Rick Santorum and the Reverend Al Sharpton after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HANNITY: As we continue on "Hannity" with the Reverend Sharpton from the National Action Network and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.

Rick, as we go back, Senator, to your comments, I find it most remarkable -- you're talking about Barack Obama -- for a black man to say, no, we are going to decide who are people and who are not people.

I'm hearing Reverend Sharpton's arguments here. Maybe I' m interpreting it a different way -- I think you seem to be taking a stand for the life with these higher statistics of abortions in the African-American community and you want it to stop.

SANTORUM: Absolutely.

HANNITY: And do you not see that intention?

SHARPTON: First of all, I think -- I think that --

HANNITY: Answer this question: do you see that intention?

SHARPTON: -- if that is his intention --

HANNITY: Yes.

SHARPTON: -- then I think that's what he should state. And no one knows that better than you, because when you came to the National Action Network convention, you challenged me on using racial language in the past and I said you were right and I was wrong when I brought up race.

HANNITY: I should have taped that.

SHARPTON: I'm saying the same thing that applied when Sean Hannity challenged Al Sharpton, I now challenge Mr. Santorum. Same thing -- you can't have it both ways, Sean.

HANNITY: All right. No, no, let him explain.

SANTORUM: I'm not using racial language. What I'm saying is --

SHARPTON: You said because he was black. It's not racial?

SANTORUM: It's the same as saying that someone who is Jewish is sensitive to the issue of genocide. And Jewish groups and Jewish people, when there's genocide around the world, they don't sit back. They say, look, we're not going to see what happened to us as a people happen to another group of people.

What I'm saying is, what happened to the African-Americans, to blacks in America, was that blacks were not considered people under the Constitution.

SHARPTON: At any age, any stage.

SANTORUM: At any age and any stage.

SHARPTON: But that's not what's happening here.

SANTORUM: And now, we are saying another group of people are not being considered persons under the Constitution -- that was my point.

Sean's other point is, which is an important one, is what we see also is that abortion clinics, as you know, Reverend Al, they are located predominantly in black and minority areas. That's where abortion clinics are -- 3/4 of Planned Parenthood abortion clinics are in the black community.

You want to know one of the reasons you're seeing a higher abortion rate is because of -- from the beginning, Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, from the beginning, was all about trying to reduce minority populations in America.

SHARPTON: I don't debate what Sanger's intention was. What I debate is that if we are going to in a very serious debate in this country, around pro-life and pro-choice, if we're going to have a serious debate on when a fetus becomes a human being to bring the race element in, like because of someone's race they should be therefore automatically in one side I think is divisive. And if I can be corrected, I think you --

SANTORUM: I go back to -- you're not debating when a fetus becomes a human being. You're debating --

SHARPTON: That is the debate.

SANTORUM: It's not a debate. There's no question that the fetus is a human being. It's a human life.

SHARPTON: You will acknowledge that there are some that have --

SANTORUM: No, I won't acknowledge that.

SHARPTON: -- gone in front of the court and have said that this is -- that they do not consider conception to be point where life starts? Do you concede that?

SANTORUM: No, that may be their opinion.

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: I'm talking science. What does science say? Science says science -- if we're going to talk about science -- scientifically, biologically, that child in the womb at the moment of conception is a human being. It's a human life.

SHARPTON: This is what the courts are dealing with now.

SANTORUM: No, the courts are dealing with personhood.

SHARPTON: You have applied a racial standard to what our positions are.

SANTORUM: No, I'm not applying a racial standard.

SHARPTON: There are many blacks that are pro-life. There are many whites that are pro-choice. You are the one that took it upon yourself, to base on the race of the president to make this a debate that becomes something different.

HANNITY: Can I add one point to this? And I don't want to interrupt your debate. But when, in the black community, compared to the white community, there are five to one a higher abortion rate. Isn't race then a component?

SHARPTON: Race is a component when you raise that argument. But that wasn't his argument. And the argument in front of the courts is that based on women's right to make a choice, they may make a choice that I disagree with.

The question becomes when -- and there are arguments on both sides to this -- when the fetus becomes the human? What he has done that I think --

SANTORUM: Are you saying that fetus is not human?

SHARPTON: May I finish answering the question?

SANTORUM: Is a fetus not a human?

SHARPTON: What he has done with a slippery slope is saying that because of a certain race that we ought to have an automatic opinion a certain way, which in my opinion does not apply to what happened in slavery.

HANNITY: Are you concerned about the high rate of abortion in the black community?

SHARPTON: I'm very concerned -- I'm concerned about the high right of abortion, a lot of things in the black community.

HANNITY: OK. So there is a racial side.

SHARPTON: But I'm also concerned that people have the right to make choices in this country.

HANNITY: Last word.

SANTORUM: Since Roe versus Wade went into effect, almost -- the black population should almost double what it is today. Just so you understand that. Because of abortion, the black population in America is almost half of what it would have been other than abortion.

This is an issue that the black community should be concerned about, not only from the point I made. You're right, it's a separate point. But also the point that Sean made, I think from both points.

SHARPTON: And I would hope to see as you go forward in your campaign that you deal with a lot of things that blacks are disproportionately --

SANTORUM: I think if you look at my record --

SHARPTON: -- from across the board.

SANTORUM: -- you'll see that. You'll see that.

SHARPTON: But I think to rob people of their civil rights is not the answer to what you are raising and what --

HANNITY: The person who's most robbed of their civil right is that child in the womb.

SHARPTON: I think that to try and misconstrue what slavery was is also --

HANNITY: I'll never get out of here. Guys, a really good debate. Thank you both for being with us. Appreciate it.

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