Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson, who recently garnered the endorsement of one of the nation's most prominent pro-life groups, reiterated his views on right-to-life issues in an ABC interview Sunday.
Speaking on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," the former Tennessee senator said that the decision regarding right-to-life cases should ultimately belong to families.
Courts, he said, should only come into play if families cannot come to a consensus on the care a patient who is unable to make medical decisions should receive. But the presidential hopeful said he hopes that families facing such a decision should side with the protection of human life if there is a chance for the patient to live.
"People have a right to make the laws in their own state to resolve these issues if families can't get together," said Thompson. "If doctors and families can't stand at that bedside and make a decision, which, as I say, I hope would be always in favor of life if there is a chance for life … then it should go to the state court mechanism."
Thompson's comments came just days after received the endorsement of the National Right to Life (NRLC) – an anti-abortion group that also touches on issues of euthanasia.
Discussing the controversial case of Terri Schiavo, Thompson maintained his opposition to federal involvement in right-to-life cases, saying the decision over whether to keep the brain-damaged woman's feeding tube "ought to be a family matter."
In the 2005 case, the families of the patient were clearly divided over the care she should receive since falling into a persistent vegetative state.
Schiavo's husband, Michael, wanted to remove her feeding tube but her parents opposed the idea of starving her to death by dehydration. Although Michael Schiavo was in a relationship with another woman and had fathered their first child, he had refused to divorce Schiavo and hand over his guardianship to her parents.
A Republican-led Congress passed a bill allowing doctors to reinsert the feeding tube of Terri Schiavo, who was conscious at the time. But the Supreme Court later decided in favor of her husband.
Thompson said he thinks the actions behind Mr. Schiavo were "suspect" and that he would have backed Schiavo's parents.
"From what I know about the facts, or recall about it, I would side with the parents in, you know, keeping that child alive," said Thompson, whose own daughter died in 2002 as a result of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs.
The former senator said he supported the efforts by Congress to ensure patients like Terri Schiavo receive appropriate medical care but opposed the bill in Congress to allow her parents to take their case to federal courts.
"Congress took an extra step, said, 'We want you to have a federal hearing also.' The federal court, as I recall, came to the same conclusion the state court did. The point is, it is a family matter – ought to be a family matter," he said.
The presidential hopeful has also said he opposes federal involvement in regards to abortion. While Thompson has described his position as "100 percent pro-life," he said laws on abortion should be decided by the states.
Despite Thompson's opposition to a federal ban on abortions, the NRLC said they were pleased with his consistent pro-life voting record and thought he was "best-positioned" to beat pro-abortion presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, who has been a frontrunner in the polls.