N.H. sheriff candidate apologizes for saying he could use deadly force to stop abortion doctors

A Republican candidate for sheriff in New Hampshire apologized today after saying he could use deadly force if necessary to stop an abortion doctor, a comment made as the GOP tries to move beyond Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin’s own abortion comment.

“I want to be clear to the people of New Hampshire that I made several comments about the use of deadly force against abortion doctors that I regret, that I apologize for, and that I fully retract,” said Hillsborough County sheriff candidate Frank Szabo. “In making comments yesterday, I let my passionate stance against abortion get the better of me.”

Szabo, a Tea Party Republican challenging incumbent Sheriff James Hardy, a fellow Republican, added: “I honestly can’t imagine a situation where I would want to use deadly force. In fact, I would use every possible peaceful and lawful tool at my disposal to execute the job of Hillsborough County sheriff, and the people of the county should have confidence in that.”

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Hillsborough County is the most populous in New Hampshire, running along the Massachusetts border from Salem west to New Ipswich, and north through Manchester.

WMUR-TV and the Bedford, N.H., Patch reported Szabo’s initial comments on Wednesday.

“The big issue here is the sheriff is supposed to protect all of its citizens,” Szabo said initially. “Just because a person is not born yet doesn’t mean he or she shouldn’t have same level of protection. Someone needs to stand up and tell federal and state officials they’re wrong if it’s in the best interest of citizens ... but my main point is deadly force is always a last resort.”

In his statement today, Szabo said, “What I said was inexcusable, and as sheriff, I would not use lethal force against an abortion doctor.”

He added, “While I maintain that abortion is unlawful because it strips the right to life from a helpless unborn child, I recognize it is legal, and for that reason deadly force against an abortion doctor is not justifiable.”

Akin, a Republican challenging incumbent Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, apologized earlier this week after saying in a television interview that if a woman suffers a “legitimate rape,” her body has defenses to prevent her from becoming pregnant.

Akin himself is a staunch opponent of abortion.

The comment prompted condemnation from presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, who is in a tough reelection campaign against Democrat Elizabeth Warren.