Marco Rubio, HIllary Clinton Face Off on Abortion: Who Is the Extremist?

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio speaks during the Republican U.S. presidential candidates debate sponsored by ABC News at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire February 6, 2016. | (Photo: REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

Presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio sparred over their differing abortion views, with each accusing the other of having an "extremist" stance.

Both candidates appeared separately Sunday on George Stephanopoulos' "This Week" to discuss their views on the life-ending procedure. The debate began when Stephanopoulos asked Florida Sen. Rubio if he would support exceptions when considering anti-abortion legislation, such as life of the mother, rape or incest.

Rubio responded by saying that although he believes abortion to be a "human rights issue," he would consider exceptions, such as the health of the mother, when approving a law.

"I do require an exception for life of the mother because I'm pro-life," the Florida senator said, adding that he would ultimately sign a law that included exceptions to achieve the greater goal of saving unborn babies from abortion.

But the circumstances of one's conception, such as rape or incest, should not determine one's right to life, he added.

"I believe a human being, an unborn child, has a right to live irrespective of the circumstances by which they were conceived. But I know that that's not a majority of Americans don't agree with me on that. And that is probably — and that's why any law that limits abortions that passes will almost certainly have exceptions. And I'll sign it with exceptions," the Florida senator told Stephanopoulos.

Rubio went on to accuse former Secretary of State Clinton of being an abortion "extremist," saying the Democratic candidate "believes that all abortions should be legal," including "partial birth abortion" that would take place "even on the due date [of the] unborn child."

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton answers a question during a CNN Democratic Town Hall moderated by American journalist and CNN anchor Anderson Cooper (unseen) in Derry, New Hampshire February 3, 2016. | (Photo: REUTERS/Rick Wilking)

Clinton didn't deny during her interview that her abortion position is as Rubio described, but shot back by suggesting that Rubio is the extremist for taking a "far right" approach to the abortion argument.

"I've been on record for many years about where I stand on abortion, how it should be safe and legal and I have the same position that I've had for a very long time," Clinton said, adding "what's really going on here is an effort by the Republicans to keep pushing as far as they can to overturn 'Roe v. Wade,' to defund Planned Parenthood, to make accusations and attacks that are really extreme."

Clinton, who is running for the Democratic nomination against Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, went on to say that she will "always take into account" exceptions to pro-life laws, including the "life and health of the mother, obviously, [and] rape and incest."

The former Secretary of State went on to defend late-term abortion, saying that there are several situations in which medical reasons exist for performing the procedure late in pregnancy.

"I've met women who have had to face this excruciating choice. This is not something that anyone that I've ever met with enters into without the deepest thought, the most careful consideration," Clinton told Stephanopoulos, adding that she finds it "just so unfortunate that politicians like Senator Rubio are trying to politicize these kinds of very difficult concerns."

Clinton added in a follow-up interview with CBS's "Face the Nation" that she believes Rubio's accusations to be "pathetic," arguing that the Republican candidate is targeting her abortion views in an attempt to bolster conservative votes.

"This is something that illustrates how Senator Rubio has just been going as far as he can to try to, I guess, buttress his credentials with certain parts of the Republican constituency," the former First Lady said.

Clinton and Rubio exchanged abortion arguments two days before New Hampshire residents vote in the first U.S. primary presidential election on Tuesday.

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