The following is a transcript of an interview with Republican Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina that aired Sunday, May 8, 2022, on “Face the Nation.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: We want to turn back to the fight over abortion rights with Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace of South Carolina. She’s in Charleston this morning. Happy Mother’s Day to you, Congresswoman.
REP. NANCY MACE: Thank you. And happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there today.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to have a conversation with you here and then we’ll continue it on the other side of this break. But first up, you are against abortion, but you believe that victims of rape and victims of incest should still have access to abortion. Do you think those exceptions should be backed up with a federal law?
REP. MACE: Well, absolutely. I’m someone who- I am pro-life, but I do support exceptions for rape. I’m a rape victim myself. And when you realize what’s happened in your life, the trauma, the emotional, the mental, the physical trauma in a woman’s life, that decision- she should make that decision with her doctor and between her and her God. And I’ve worked to support those exceptions in my life, not only as a state lawmaker, but now as a member of Congress. And South Carolina has a fetal heartbeat bill that was signed into law that had those exceptions because I told my rape story. And those stories are often missed and criticized and women are attacked when they tell those stories. And that’s something that I’ve talked about extensively throughout the years as well.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I know you have and I want to talk to you about those as well, because there is so much nuance here. I’m going to take a quick commercial break. And I want to ask you in more detail what kind of legislation you think could pass at the federal level? What needs to happen at the state level? So stay with us, if you would. We will be right back in a moment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We want to continue our conversation with South Carolina Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace. Congresswoman, you have spoken publicly about being molested when you were 14, raped at age 16, and how that has shaped your feelings and convictions about rape. I read that you said that it took you 25 years to talk about your- your attack and that you only shared it with your mother and one of your good friends. So I wonder what you think about some of these restrictions in states that would require rape victims to provide police reports in order to obtain an abortion.
REP. MACE: Right. Well, I- I can’t speak to other states, I- from experience as a state lawmaker, I know that South Carolina’s fetal heartbeat bill would not have passed without exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother. And I told that story. I felt it was really- a really important story, a story that’s often missed and not told because women are afraid. And you can even see in public comments and on social media when I talk about it, the ways in which that I get attacked for telling that story. And one of the things that I think partially that’s missing in this conversation is- is that. When you have victims, when Ohio did their fetal heartbeat bill, there was a ten-year-old girl that had been found to be pregnant who had been raped repeatedly by her father. And so, as I know, it’s part of the Republican Party platform, the vast majority of Republicans support those exceptions for rape and incest and life of the mother and it’s important for for some of us to step forward and tell those stories that are often missed in all of this as well.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So to be clear, you would support a vote in Congress, federal legislation to enshrine those exceptions.
REP. MACE: Well, yeah. And I think that- I think one of the things that’s missing and I’m glad that you’re bringing this up in all the conversation, the media coverage about Roe v. Wade being overturned, is that what this does- It’s not an all-out federal ban on abortion, but it puts it back into state legislatures and into Congress. You saw Congress a couple of years ago ban late term abortions, for example. And so what this does is it puts it back to the states. It puts it back into Congress to- to deal with and figure out. And it was even Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who we all know was a- was working for women’s rights and thought there was a constitutional right–
MARGARET BRENNAN: –She did–
REP. MACE: –knew that Roe v Wade was flawed.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah, she did. She said that she said that back in the nineties. It was a problem in her confirmation process. But- so let’s talk about states then. The governor of South Carolina, your home state, fellow Republicans, said if Roe versus Wade is overturned, he wants further restrictions without those exceptions of rape or incest. He’s considering restricting abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. Is that too restrictive?
REP. MACE: Well, I would- would only support legislation in South Carolina that have- had exceptions for rape and incest and life of the mother. I don’t believe that- that-
MARGARET BRENNAN: What about six weeks of pregnancy?
REP. MACE: -would pass without those exceptions. Well that- that bill has already been signed into law, the fetal heartbeat bill for South Carolina that he signed, I guess it was last year, had- it was 6 to 8 weeks is when the heartbeat is found. But that bill had exceptions for rape and incest and life of the mother. So that law is already on the books in South Carolina and it’ll be up to the legislature to determine if they want even more restrictions on it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But- but that’s where this gets messy, right? Because if you’re saying it’s up to the states when we look at national polling, it shows that there is a majority of Americans who want to kind of keep the status quo. At the state level do you actually think the South Carolina legislature is in tune with public opinion here? Because, I mean, our polling shows more than two thirds of Republicans say abortion should be generally available or available, with stricter limits. Is it a political mistake to just paint this as- as pro-life, pro-choice?
REP. MACE: Well, I think that some of the polling is- is murky, too, depends on how you ask the question and who’s paying for the polling. There is some polling out there that says that there are only 25% of Americans, some say up to 30% that want abortion in every case, they don’t want any restrictions. So that says to me that there’s a vast, vast majority of Americans that are okay with restrictions on abortion. We have some of the most liberal abortion laws in the world. If you look at Europe, there are many European countries that don’t allow abortion after the first trimester–
MARGARET BRENNAN: –12 weeks or so.
MACE: Yeah. And in Poland, for example, they don’t allow any abortions unless there- it’s rape, incest or life of the mother.
MARGARET BRENNAN: –It is a bit of an outlier there in Europe–
MACE: — So it’s a complicated issue–
MARGARET BRENNAN: It is.
REP. MACE: Right. But the- Portugal’s 12 weeks. Yeah.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. Congresswoman, I want to quickly ask you, you’re being primaried by a Trump-backed candidate. Do you think your position on this is going to make it more complicated for you? Do you think President Trump is still the leader of your party?
REP. MACE: Well, my position on- on life with exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother is in line with my district. It’s in line with the majority of, I believe, voters in my state as well. We’ve raised over four and a half million dollars for this race. My opponent has raised less than 300,000. And, you know, I’m working very hard to win this not just by single digits, but by double digits. And I think he’s been- been given bad advice. My opponent lost- had her top-secret security clearance revoked for leaking classified information about our military. I live in a very fiscally conservative district, and she voted for the highest tax hike in South Carolina history. And so there are very stark contrasts in our record. And we raised the most money, we have the highest polling, and I’ve got 40 days to go until the June primary. I’m looking forward to winning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’ll watch for it. Thank you, Congresswoman. We’ll be right back.