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WASHINGTON — A day after a magazine quoted him as saying abortion was “an individual choice,” GOP Chairman Michael Steele said Thursday he opposes abortion and that Roe v. Wade should be overturned.

WASHINGTON — A day after a magazine quoted him as saying abortion was “an individual choice,” GOP Chairman Michael Steele said Thursday he opposes abortion and that Roe v. Wade should be overturned.

A leading conservative called Steele’s remarks in the magazine “cavalier and flippant,” underscoring the new chairman’s precarious position with party regulars concerned about his off-the-cuff style and penchant for miscues.

Steele, who was adopted, told GQ magazine that his mother had the option of getting an abortion or giving birth to him.

“The choice issue cuts two ways,” Steele said in the wide-ranging interview published online Wednesday. “You can choose life, or you can choose abortion. You know, my mother chose life.”

Asked whether he thought women had the right to choose abortion, Steele said: “Yeah. I mean, again, I think that’s an individual choice.”

On Thursday morning, Steele attempted to clarify his remarks in a statement.

“I am pro-life, always have been, always will be,” he said. “I tried to present why I am pro-life while recognizing that my mother had a choice before deciding to put me up for adoption.”

Both in the interview and in his statement, Steele said he believed Roe v. Wade was “wrongly decided.” He said the Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion should be overturned and the decision left to the states.

In the GQ interview, Steele said he was opposed to gay marriage but wasn’t going to “beat people upside the head about it.”

Steele, a Catholic and former Maryland lieutenant governor, was elected chairman of the National Republican Committee nearly six weeks ago.

Since then, Steele has compared Republicans to alcoholics on a 12-step program and called Rush Limbaugh “incendiary and ugly,” though he has apologized to the conservative radio host. Steele has also promised to give the party a “hip-hop makeover” that would be “off the hook” and would attract even “one-armed midgets.”

Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, said in a written statement that he was disappointed with Steele’s remarks to the magazine on abortion and gay marriage.

“This only serves to reinforce the belief by many social conservatives that one major party is unfriendly while the other gives only lip service to core moral issues,” Perkins said, “which is why many have dropped their affiliation with the GOP.”

The Republican platform asserts the GOP’s opposition to abortion, saying that “the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life, which cannot be infringed.”

In his statement, Steele said he supports the platform. “The Republican Party is and will continue to be the party of life,” he said.

Steele said in the magazine interview that he believed marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman. “I just draw the line at the gay marriage,” he said.

“And I’m not gonna jump up and down and beat people upside the head about it and tell gays that they’re wrong for wanting to aspire to that and all of that craziness,” he continued.

Steele said states should address gay marriage.

“Just as a general principle, I don’t like mucking around with the Constitution,” he said.

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In photo: In this Jan. 30, 2009 file photo, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele speaks in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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