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WASHINGTON, D.C., June 16, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum stated recently that he supports protecting unborn children as persons under the U.S. Constitution, and that doctors should face criminal penalties for aborting unborn children.

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In an interview Sunday on Meet the Press, host David Gregory asked Santorum if he would concede any exceptions in legal protections for the unborn, such as circumstances involving rape or incest.

“I believe that life begins at conception and that life should be guaranteed under the Constitution,” said Santorum. “That is a person.”

Santorum said abortion in those circumstances would still be “taking a life.”

“And I would advocate that any doctor who performs an abortion should be criminally charged for doing so,” he continued.

Santorum said that while he has “never” supported criminal penalties for mothers over abortion, “I do for the people who perform them.”

Santorum also emphasized that the unborn child deserves all the rights of personhood guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution to born American citizens.

“I believe that life is sacred,” said Santorum, referencing the Declaration of Independence.

“I believe that life should be protected at the moment it is a human life. And at conception, it is biologically human. It is alive. It is a human life. It should be a person under the Constitution.”

Santorum is scheduled to appear at a candidate forum with Herman Cain, and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) at the National Right to Life convention in Jacksonville, Florida, next week.

See the full interview here.

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